the Territory

In winemaking, there is a concept called “terroir”– that mix of dirt, rain, sun, wind, and water that makes one vineyard’s grapes taste different from another’s. It is possible that a territory shapes its artists too; that it seeps into our tunes and our dreams, inspires us, connects us, running deeper than genre or musical style. When you love a place, its story can’t help but make its way into your own, and you can feel its current in the work.


Darrell Grant, piano
Joe Locke, vibraphone
Brian Blade, drums
Steve Wilson, alto saxophone
Clark Sommers, bass
Hamilton Cheifetz, cello
Thomas Barber, trumpet
Kirt Peterson, bass clarinet
Marilyn Keller, vocals

Informed by Oregon’s historical heritage as well as the incredible and diverse landscapes of the region, The Territory’s nine movements draw on both jazz and classical music to address pivotal moments in Oregon’s cultural history and reflect on the space between the myth and the reality of the territory. They range from the rhythmic invocation of the opening “Hymn to the Four Winds,” based on a Nez Perce chant, to the joyous 1930’s swing of “Sundays at the Golden West.” Composition is paired with improvisation to evoke the earth-shaping power of “The Missoula Floods” and the mystical aura of “Daybreak at Fort Rock.” At the heart of the piece are "Chief Joseph's Lament," which sets to music a portion of the surrender speech given by the legendary leader of the Grand Ronde Valley Nez Perce. "Stones into Blossoms,” which evokes the Japanese-American internment during World War II, and “The Aftermath,” a reflection on the 1887 massacre of 26 Chinese miners on the banks of the Imaha River. The piece’s finale, “New Land,” celebrates the hopes and aspirations of newcomers of all ages and races who continue to remake the land anew.

the ensembles

The world-premiere performance of The Territory was presented by Chamber Music Northwest on July 13, 2013 to a sold-out crowd at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium in Portland, Oregon. The nine-member ensemble included several of Grant's long-time collaborators, including Grammy award-winners Brian Blade and Steve Wilson, celebrated vibraphonist Joe Locke, and Chicago bassist Clark Sommers as well as renowned cellist Hamilton Cheifetz, Portland vocalist Marilyn Keller, trumpeter Thomas Barber, and bass clarinetist Kirt Peterson. The recording of this performance was released on the 2015 PJCE Records release “The Territory.”

Grant also maintains a touring ensemble that  features Northwest-based performers Mike Horsfall on vibraphone, John Nastos on saxophones and flutes, bassist Eric Gruber, and drummer Tyson Stubelek in addition to Cheifetz, Keller, Barber, and Peterson.This “Oregon Territory Ensemble” was featured at the 2014 Portland Jazz Festival, and it has also appeared at Bend’s Jazz at the Oxford Series, Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s jazz club, and at Grant’s November 2015 CD release performance.

The Territory is ground, water, sky, and everything in between. It is what was here before you came and what will be here after you are gone.