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On Saturday May 18th PJCE honors the late saxophonist and composer Jim Pepper in a concert at the Old Church. We’ll play music by Jim Pepper, Gordon Lee, and Glay Giberson, as well as music by our guest, hip hop artist and traditional singer and dancer 2 8 Tha Native, arranged by Farnell Newton and Stephanie Kitson.

Jim Pepper, who identified with the Kaw and Creek tribes, was a Native American jazz innovator who is best known for a song that reached the Billboard charts, Witchi Tai To. Pepper’s was an incredibly distinctive voice on the tenor saxophone, and had fruitful collaborations with many other A-list jazz players, often on the avant-garde side of the spectrum—Don Cherry, Paul Motian, Charlie Haden and Mal Waldron, among others. He also worked extensively with Portland’s own Gordon Lee, who talked with me about how he met Jim Pepper, and the “supernatural” effect that this man—who Lee jokingly called “the older brother I never wanted”—had on his life.

Tickets for the May 18th concert are on sale now at pjce.org. Get $5 off your purchase with the code “beyond” at checkout.

Also you can learn more about Jim Pepper and our program honoring him at Oregon Historical Society on May 10th at noon. Jazz writer Rick Mitchell gives an introduction on Pepper’s role in jazz’s larger story, Gordon Lee will talk about Jim Pepper and perform with 2 8 Tha Native, who will also talk about his own work in hip hop and that of other native artists in Portland today.

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