The Emerald City Jazz Kings is the resident repertory jazz and historic popular music ensemble of The John G. Shedd Institute. Under the direction saxophonist Jesse Cloninger since 2012, the Jazz Kings mounts 4 unique, thematically-organized concerts each year covering a wide range of 20th century historic popular music from the 1920s to the '50s, with an especial emphasis on the classic American songbook, swing, and standards-based jazz. The group is also a frequent guest of The Shedd's annual songbook project, Oregon Festival of American Music.
The Jazz Kings was organized in 1996 by Steve Stone and Shedd director Jim Ralph to investigate an important but somewhat overlooked period of transition in American music, the late 1920s and early '30s transition from New Orleans jazz to swing, from vaudeville to motion pictures, from Broadway revues to musical comedy--all of these accompanied by startling electronic developments which changed the nature of performance and audience perception-radio, sound motion pictures, the microphone and new recording techniques. Soon the group expanded its mission to include the full range of historic American popular music that now makes up its repertoire.
Each Jazz Kings show is unique, allowing an ongoing exploration and celebration of the almost endless nooks and crannies of America's popular music during its extraordinarily rich first half-century. The size of the group ranges from 7 to 15 fronted by 2 to 4 vocalists. Six members have been with the group since its founding with most having at least 5 years under their belt.
An extremely important if hidden feature of these concerts are the quality of the arrangements. The Jazz Kings have a huge standard library accumulated over the past 20 years, but Jesse and a team of 4 to 5 arrangers during any year still create at least half of the arrangements from each show from scratch, to the specifications best suited to the show at hand, and usually with an eye to re-creating especially important or interesting historic performances. And whenever possible, we actively seek out top quality professional arrangements that are true to historic performances.
"Sweet and Hot," exploring music from the year 1930
"Sweeter and Hotter," music from 1931
"Dear Old Southland,"
"Piano Man", a 3 concert mini-series with special guest Dick Hyman
"Forty Second Street"
"Doin' the Raccoon - Great Tunes from the World of Shieks & Flappers"
"Fascinating Rhythm - A Tribute to George & Ira Gershwin"
"Star Dust Memories - Remembering Hoagy Carmichael"
"Rockin' In Rhythm - The Music of Duke Ellington"
"Wrappin' It Up - So Long Prohibition, It's Swingtime!"
"Blues In The Night - The Magic of Harold Arlen"
"The Latin Tinge"
"Bixology - At the Jazz Band Ball With Bix Beiderbecke"
"The New Yorkers - Broadway Jazz With Cole Porter & Friends"
"Puttin' On The Ritz - An Evening With Irving Berlin"