by Robert Bell
ART PORTER WEEK
Various times and locations.
The date Aug. 3 would have been Art Porter Jr.'s 50th birthday. The virtuoso saxophonist died in a boating accident in Thailand in 1996, shortly after playing a concert for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Porter and his father — a musician and instructor — were certainly beloved musical figures in their hometown of Little Rock. The younger Porter recorded several albums for Verve, and had a significant national and international following. He got his start playing drums in his pop's band, but eventually switched to saxophone. In fact, he was so young that it took special legislation — supported by then-Attorney General Bill Clinton — to allow the teen prodigy to perform in the normally 21-and-up clubs.
To celebrate his life, the good folks behind Art Porter Music Education Inc., the nonprofit that provides scholarships to budding musicians, have organized this string of performances:
Porter's Jazz Cafe is slated to open Aug. 3, with a performance from jazz pianist and composer Alex Bugnon. This event is open only to invited guests and APME sponsors.
On Aug. 4 at 8 p.m., The Afterthought hosts a jam session, with several Arkansas musicians paying tribute to Porter.
On Aug. 5, Cajun's Wharf hosts world-renowned producer, composer and jazz pianist Jeff Lorber, with whom Porter had performed and recorded. Tickets are $15 and the show starts at 7 p.m.
The week wraps up Aug. 6 with a concert from jazz and R&B song stylist Lalah Hathaway at Riverfest Amphitheatre. Tickets are $25 in advance (through Ticketmaster) or $35 at the door. The show starts at 7 p.m.