So, you want to play the Montavilla Jazz Festival?
We are honored that you are inquiring about performing at the Montavilla Jazz Festival. It is amazing to see so much interest from the creative community in a festival that started as an ambitious idea by a handful of community-minded folks in East Portland. We get a number of requests throughout the year, and we have limited performance slots to showcase artists. Here are some things we would like you to know:
We only consider Portland-based artists
We pride ourselves in showcasing the very best in original Portland jazz. The festival started because the founders saw a gap in Portland jazz programming. There is an immense amount of Portland-based jazz talent from many diverse musical backgrounds that needed a stage.
If your set is not wholly originally composed music, then MJF is not a great fit.
The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble is a very close partner with the Montavilla Jazz Festival. Some of our programming ethos comes from PJCE’s mission. We love standards, but we want you to play your own music.
We value high-level artistic expression.
Of course, the success of all art is subjective, but the programming committee does its best to identify highly skilled artists who are truly contributing to pushing the music forward with exciting, original approaches to jazz.
This is a jazz festival.
If you do not consider your music jazz, that’s cool, but we are not likely interested. That said, the Montavilla Jazz Festival’s understanding of what “jazz” means is wider than that of many festivals. We pride ourselves on the diversity of our programming; be it straight-ahead or avant-garde, swingin’ or rockin’, we just want high-level, Portland-based, original jazz.
We want a story to tell.
Do you want your MJF performance to be a CD release event? Is this performance going to be the premier of a new composition or ensemble? Simply having a band full of killing cats is not compelling enough. In 140 characters or fewer, can you tell us why we should encourage people to come to your set at MJF?
Recent or upcoming professional activity is highly valued.
It is not enough that you performed with a legendary artist in the 1980s. You might even be a Portland legend yourself, but if you have not released a CD in a decade, and your website has not been updated since Y2K, and your YouTube presence is nonexistent…that makes it really hard for us to convince the community to celebrate you now. In a nutshell, if your band has some of the most smoking jazz musicians within one hundred miles of Portland but you do not have something to sell, that makes it hard for us to promote you.
Montavilla Jazz Festival does not book groups smaller than a trio.
Additionally, we hardly ever book groups that do not have drums involved.
The best time to submit is October through December.
There have been many times when an artist comes to us with a perfect project for MJF, but it is too late in our project planning. It takes months to plan the festival, and most festivals book their entire lineup much sooner than we do. The best time to show up on our radar is well after the current year’s August festival and before we start planning for the next year.