Like jazz, life in the time of the pandemic is about improvisation. 

For the first time since its inception in 1980, the swinging sounds of the 40th annual Cathedral Park Jazz Festival 2020 will – as so many festivals and performances these days -  be virtual, streaming live online at Friday through Sunday, July 17-19, 2020, thanks to presenting sponsor, Oregonians Credit Union, and the organizer, the Jazz Society of Oregon. For the past 39 years, this long-running free festival has been held in North Portland’s scenic Cathedral Park under the historic St Johns Bridge.

Highlights of this year’s three-day festival celebrating jazz, blues, R&B, and funk: The Bayou Boyz in a tribute to the late New Orleans pianist Dr. John; violinist Eddie Parente, channelling the great jazz violinists like Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith, and Joe Venuto; and soulful vocalist Saeeda Wright and her nine-piece orchestra. Saeeda has sung backup for Prince, Lalah Hathaway, Live Warfield and others.

The complete lineup is as follows:

Friday July 17 (from 5pm until 10:15pm) begins with Tevis Hodge, Jr, then two acts that have each been finalists in the “International Blues Challenge”: the Rae Gordon Band, followed by Johnny Wheels and the Swamp Donkeys. The Bayou Boyz will wrap up the evening.

Saturday July 18 (from 2pm until 9:45pm) kicks off with the popular Devin Phillips Trio, followed by the Eddie Parente Quartet, Outer Orbit, the Bobby Torres Ensemble, and finally Saeeda Wright as the closing act.

Sunday July 19 (from 1:30pm until 8pm) starts with the Minidoka Swing Band, then the John JB Butler Quartet, followed by the Christopher Brown Quartet, the Mel Brown Trio featuring special guest vocalist Shirley Nanette, and the Ethio-soul Tezeta Band taking it home.

“This is the 40th consecutive year of the festival, which was started by a group of volunteers commemorating the construction of beautiful Cathedral Park,” said Rita Rega, Jazz Society of Oregon board member and artistic director. “It has evolved into a celebration of Portland’s diverse jazz music scene. It is also the longest-running community event in the Greater Portland area. While this year’s event won’t be in our usual spectacular outdoor setting, the spirit and music of the festival live on.”

In addition to Oregonians Credit Union, other sponsors include: METRO, Bill Mattecheck/NFP Insurance, Portland Event Productions, SoLMedia Productions, Deschutes Brewing, Stoller Family Estate Wines, Aeronet Communications, Shine Distillery, Southern Grill Catering, The 1905 Jazz Club, St. Johns Boosters, Northwest Self Storage, Vortex magazine, and KBOO and KMHD radio stations.

Background - Cathedral Park Jazz Festival

This year marks the 40th consecutive year of the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, which has been managed for the past six years by the Jazz Society of Oregon.

“This is a free, non-profit festival that provides the best in jazz, blues, R&B and soul, from around the greater Portland/Vancouver area,” said Rega. “In fact, the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is both the longest-running free annual jazz festival west of the Mississippi – and Portland’s longest-running annual community event.”

About the Jazz Society of Oregon

The Jazz Society of Oregon is an all-volunteer non-profit organization 501(c)(3) whose mission is to promote the local jazz scene in Portland and the rest of Oregon.  The Society supports jazz education, as well as fostering a greater appreciation of this thoroughly American art form.

Information on the 40th Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, including specific times of the livestream on all three days can be found at  

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Image attached (photo credit: Chris Lazarus): photo of the Jazz Society of Oregon’s free Cathedral Park Jazz Festival taken in better, pre-Covid days last year.  The 2020 festival takes place July 17, 18 & 19th and will be livestreamed at