Musicians playing brass instruments on stage

Jazz Festival

Logo with a saxophone and base that reads Mt. Hood Jazz Festival

Jazz Festival 2025: April 25-27

Jazz Fest 2024 has now passed. But there are plenty of ways to learn about our jazz community and connect to jazz culture through MHCC! Interested in future events? Email questions to Director of Jazz Studies, Music Instructor Dan Davey.

View the 2024 Jazz Fest Artists

Learn more about Jazz Fest 2024

Educational and Competition Opportunities for Students

The MHCC Jazz Festival offers a three-day dive into jazz culture, featuring performances by nationally and locally renowned artists! It also hosts an educational competition for high school and middle school jazz ensembles. This includes:

  • Divisions for high school big bands and combos.
  • Divisions for middle school big bands and combos.
  • Opportunities to qualify for the Oregon State Jazz Championships.
  • Options to perform for ratings or "comments only."
  • Constructive recorded and written feedback on your ensemble’s performance.

School jazz ensembles are invited to compete at the festival on the MHCC campus. Students grow as musicians through performances, masterclasses, and encounters with regional and international jazz heroes. MHCC jazz program students also actively participate in the festival. They assist with operations and gain management experience. They have full access to events, and some perform in the festival lineup!

A Unique Festival Experience

The Mt. Hood Jazz Festival showcases the journey of a musician from middle school to professional. Your students will have the opportunity to:

  • Perform and receive valuable feedback.
  • Participate in an on-stage clinic.
  • Attend masterclasses specific to their instrument or a related topic.
  • Experience professional performances by leading regional and national jazz artists.
  • Enjoy music, vendors, food, and local culture.
  • Witness the musical journey from middle school to professional. 
Join us for a positive musical experience that will energize your students and your program!

Jazz at MHCC

History of the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival

Launched in 1982 by MHCC in collaboration with the City of Gresham and the Mt. Hood Jazz Association, the festival once drew crowds of 30,000. Performers included Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, and B.B. King, marking Rosemary Clooney's last live performance.

In 2019, MHCC acquired the festival name rights and, with community support, relaunched it as a livestreaming event in 2021, engaging over 2,000 viewers globally. The 2022 Jazz Festival returns to its original in-person format.

History of MHCC's Jazz Program

Started in 1966 by Larry McVey and Hal Malcom, the program focused on jazz education and was an early adopter of vocal jazz. It became a recruiting ground for big bands' leaders, like Stan Kenton, Mel Torme, and Buddy Rich.

In collaboration with the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival and KMHD Jazz Radio, students had exposure to top jazz artists. Alumni pursued education at prestigious institutions, becoming internationally known soloists and holding faculty positions.

Notable alumni include Chris Botti, Phil Baker, Dave Barduhn, Steve Christofferson, Tom DeLibero, Peter Dyer, Essiet Essiet, Gary Hobbs, Keller Koker, Patrick Lamb, Terry Layne, Martin Mueller, Donny Osborne, Dick Sarpola, Susie Jones, Jeff Uusitalo, Alan Yankee, and Ben Wolfe.

MHCC's Jazz Program

Under Dan Davey's direction, MHCC's jazz program is renowned in Portland, offering a comprehensive jazz education. Students perform at various events, including the Portland Jazz Festival, the Montavilla Jazz Festival, and the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.

The MHCC music curriculum provides a creative and rigorous environment, preparing students for a music degree in two years. Faculty offer personalized education in classical and contemporary music studies, instrumental and vocal labs, performance studies, and masterclasses. DownBeat magazine recommended the MHCC music program in its "Where to Study Jazz 2022" list.

Learn more about MHCC's music program

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