Between the mud and the rain, April is that in-between month. Things are just beginning to grow again, and suddenly, everyone is smiling. While it’s not very warm yet, April is the first step to curing spring fever.

So it’s no wonder that the USM Department of Music chose this confused, transitional time of year to hold several jazz concerts. Also, at the end of the month (April 28 and 29), Banu Gibson and the New Orleans Hot Jazz will perform with the Portland Symphony Orchestra at Merrill Auditorium.

This is also the month that the Portland Museum of Art is kicking off its exhibit, “America Entertained: Jazz to Jitterbug, Harlem to Hollywood.”

The art show, featuring works loaned from the writer and jazz enthusiast Jake Wien, celebrates cultural energy from the early 20th century to the World War II era. The exhibit will be on display until June 24.

Already, Corthell Concert Hall has seen plenty of action this month.

There was a jazz concert earlier this month, with combos such as the Afro/Cuban Combo led by Chris Oberholtzer, jazz studies director. Last week, Oberholtzer led another combo, the Chris O. Combo, in a concert that also featured the Thelonious Monk Combo led by Gary Wittner and the Fusion Combo led by Bill Street. The groups featured original music written by students, as well as standard jazz compositions.

And more jazz is coming. On Friday, April 20, the final faculty concert of the season features Wittner, an applied music faculty member, with the USM Jazz Ensemble at 8 p.m. in Corthell Concert Hall. The following night, April 21, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. in the concert hall. They will be joined by several a cappella chamber vocal groups performing doo-wop and barbershop – not exactly jazz, but hey, it’ll make people smile too.


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