REVIEW: Ian Christensen’s “Finding”

Maybe for some people, saying “Portland jazz” may sound like an oxymoron but Portland has a long and diverse history with jazz, back in the days when parts of the city proudly called itself “Jump Town”. A few decades of gentrification later, jazz may not be as widespread as it used to be but you’re able to hear how strong it is on this new album by saxophonist Ian Christensen. Finding (PJCE) is an album primarily consisting of Christensen’s compositions, with a few tracks coming courtesy of bandmates Ryan Meagher (who offers two tracks, including the delicious “Worn Luster”) and Andrew Jones (including the album’s closer, “Cattywampus”). At first, I was expecting the music to be along the lines of ECM Records but this is more bebop, at least to my ears. When I come into Portland a few times a year, I always make sure to turn the radio to the left of the dial to find some jazz and I’d probably find some powerful sounds from Christensen along the way. Everything on Finding is acoustic, so no synthesized or far-out grooves, it’s the kind of music you’d expect to hear in a club or church at 2:47 in the morning when you’re unable to find any food carts still open. It respects the legacy of jazz and it honors the legacy of Portland jazz that may have been hushed somewhat but not completely muted. Finding is an album that looks for the lost and discovers something quite remarkable.

Finding is available below via and Bandcamp.)

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