Jumptown – Portland Jazz and the Leftbank

For a brief shining moment in Portland’s history, the Broadway/Williams area was home to some of the finest music being played west of Chicago. In his book Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz 1942-1957, Robert Dietsche passionately narrates the story of the music and the city which he has lovingly researched. In the first chapter of Jumptown, Dietsche describes “The Dude Ranch” – the hottest club of all – located in the corner ‘ballroom’ space of what is today’s Leftbank.

In Jumptown, published by OSU press, Dietsche writes, “Action central was Williams Avenue, an entertainment strip lined with hot spots where you could find jazz twenty-four hours a day. . . . You could stand in the middle of the Avenue (where the Blazers play basketball today) and look up Williams past the chili parlors, past the barbecue joints, the beauty salons, all the way to Broadway, and see hundreds of people dressed up as if they were going to a fashion show. It could be four in the morning. It didn’t matter; this was one of those ‘streets that never slept.”

Dietsche hosted “Jazzville” for OPB and has written and taught extensively on Jazz music and its presence in Oregon.

One Response to this post

On March 19th, 2009 at 3:14 pm Kevin Ketchum said:

WOW!! I go by this building all the time and was just amazed that it showcased such talents such as Coleman Hawkins and Monk. Those must have been some great ol’ days here. This info will further add to my knowledge of Portland history. Thank you.