Dmae talks with Portland Jazz great Thara Memory and Librettist S. Renee Mitchell about Sherman: A Jazz Opera opening at Ethos-IFCC during Black History Month. Sherman highlights Portland’s jazz history during the 1940s-50s, a high point of jazz when a growth of African American families moved into the North Williams Ave.

We learn about some of the hidden history of Portland’s jazz scene and the African American musicians who made the music. According to Thara Memory, much of that history is being lost daily as older musicians pass away and their history is ignored. “Sherman: A Jazz Opera” is perhaps the only actual jazz opera in America and it works to remember the legacy of Portland’s greatest music makers.

Thara Memory & S. Renee Mitchell

Thara Memory has been working for a couple decades on the music for this show that centers on Sherman Thomas a gifted saxophonist who mesmerized audiences in smoky jazz clubs at a time when the African Americans during WWII came to Portland to build war ships and also brought their East Coast music dubbing North Williams Avenue, the “Black Broadway.”

S. Renee Mitchell is an award-winning former newspaper journalist nominated for the Pulitzer twie. She brings her taleents as performer, singer, poet and playwright to create the libretto for this true African American opera.

Performing Thara Memory’s score in Sherman: A Jazz Opera are some of Portland’s best musicans including Janice Scroggins, Reggie Houston and La Rhonda Steele. ‘

The show runs February 18-27 at Ethos @ IFCC located at 5340 N. Interstate Ave. in Portland. Donations are sought for a larger production due in 2012. Contact Ms. Mitchell for further details.

Reggie Houston & LaRhonda Steele. Photo by Jon Farley

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