February 23
PORTLAND, OR: Holocene w/ Scott Amendola-Phillip Greenlief Duo. NOTE: EARLY SHOW (Doors 5pm, Show 6pm). $15. 21+.

Stay tuned... get on our email list to find out about more upcoming shows.



photo credit: Jason Quigley


(See also: Instagram / Facebook)

>>8/11/23: MY ONLY SECRET - Out Now!

>>---> ORDER HERE <---<<

Co-released on CD and Purple Vinyl via the incredible Portland vinyl labels Beacon Sound and Jealous Butcher Records. Mixed by Todd Sickafoose. Mastered by Jason Powers. Featuring guest appearances by James Powers, John Savage, Nicole McCabe and Timothy Young. Darrell Grant wrote the liner notes. Cover art by Kavi Wallsmith. Design by Rob Jones. Photography by Jason Quigley. Dedicated to Reed's mom, Sandy Wallsmith, who passed away in May.

>>---> ORDER HERE <---<<

>>7/1/23: August 17th: My Only Secret Album Release Show w/ Frank Irwin Quintet

>>3/8/23: April 5th at Holocene

>>10/19/22: November 3rd at the acoustically rich The Old Church in Portland, with Battle Trance.

>>5/1/22: Two sets at the Jack London Revue coming up soon.

>>1/24/22: Album release show for VOICES!!! w/ guests Laura Gibson, Laura Veirs and more on February 26th as a part of the PDX Jazz Festival. Double bill with James Powers/Laurel's Barn. Big thank you to PDX Jazz and Alberta Abbey for making it possible for this to be a FREE, all-ages event.

>>10/15/22: Our new album, Voices, is officially live, today. This is a project born of collaboration with artists we admire and hold dear. It features Holland Andrews, Peter Broderick, Gavin Castleton, Redray Frazier, Laura Gibson, Luz Elena Mendoza, Rebecca Sanborn, Annalisa Tornfelt, Edna Vazquez, and Laura Veirs. Huge thank yous to Todd Sickafoose for mixing, Josh Powell and Jason Powers for engineering, Gus Elg for mastering, Taylor Ross for the cover images, Dylan McConnell for design, and Kim Gumbel for management help. Stay tuned for online releases of music videos by Jim Blashfield, Rachel Blumberg and Sarah Whelden, as well as writings about each track, but, for now, we hope you enjoy: Voices.

>>8/31/21: We will be performing at The Lot at Zidell Yards in a double bill with singer-songwriter Edna Vazquez on 9/27/21 to release our song/video collaboration "Tatehuari," from our upcoming album Voices. All outdoors/socially distanced seating/masks required when in public areas. Hope you can make it!

>>8/13/21: We will be performing and screening four new music video previews outdoors at the Portland Art Museum on 8/20/21 to kick off the Montavilla Jazz Festival. Our set starts at 8:15pm, followed by Montavilla Jazz's Call + Response and Blue Cranes Voices videos at 9pm.

>>1/1/20: We will be performing at the Portland Jazz Festival, opening for the legendary Archie Shepp on February 22nd at the Newmark Theater

>>11/21/19: Holocene w/ Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, performing new arrangements of Blue Cranes music for the band plus eight additional horns.

>>9/24/19: Mississippi Studios w/ Methods Body

>>2/23/19: Portland Jazz Festival @ Alberta St. Pub w/ Methods Body

>>12/7/18: Jack London Revue w/ Wayne Horvitz' Snowghost Trio

>>11/18/18: All Ages show at Royale Brewing!

>>11/12/18: Mississippi Studios w/ Invisible Bird (feat. Scott Amendola and Shane Endsley)

>>10/10/18: Secret Society w/ Subtle Degrees (Travis Laplante / Gerald Cleaver)

>>8/11/18: Mississippi Studios for 1939 Ensemble's album release, w/ Amenta Abioto

>>4/18/18: Jack London Revue w/ Wayne Horvitz Trio.

>>9/10/18: Mississippi Studios w/ Dave King Trucking Co.

>>1/1/17: Happy New Year! We'll be at Mississippi Studios w/ Battle Trance on January 25th.

>>9/1/16: On September 22, we'll be at the Doug Fir in Portland w/ Danish-Finnish band Liima (Efterklang + percussionist Tatu Rönkkö)

>>6/1/16: June 22nd at Secret Society in Portland w/ John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet.

>>5/5/16: May 24th at Secret Society w/ Like a Villain and Ahleuchatistas.

>>3/10/16: We're playing with NYC-based drummer/composer Allison Miller's BOOM TIC BOOM (feat. Myra Melford, Jenny Scheinman, Ben Goldberg, Kirk Knuffke, Haggai Cohen Milo) on April 9th at Alberta St. Pub.

>>1/1/16: On February 15th we'll be playing with Ches Smith's trio w/ Craig Taborn and Mat Maneri at Mississippi Studios.

>>11/23/15: Also coming up, on December 14: We will be the musical guests for The Moth's mainstage show at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland.

>>11/25/15: We'll be playing December 10th @ Jimmy Mak's in Portland for the Andrew Endres Collective's album release:

>>11/10/15: Coming up, November 24th w/ Catherine Feeny/Chris Johnedis. Featuring new horn arrangements by Reed Wallsmith, Joe Cunningham, Noah Bernstein, Barra Brown, Kela Parker, Doug Detrick:

>>10/21/15: November 1st at the Doug Fir:

>>8/1/15: On August 30th we will be playing in the forest with Heidi Duckler Dance in a site-specific performance of dance choreographed by Carla Mann to the music of Blue Cranes. Hoyt Arboreteum. 5pm and 6:15pm.

>>7/25/15: PDX Pop Now! was a blast.

>>4/9/15: May 5th in Portland, with the inimitable Tim Berne's Snakeoil

>>4/1/15: April 8th in Portland, with NYC-based saxophonist and flutist Anna Webber's SIMPLE Trio (feat. Matt Mitchell - piano, John Hollenbeck - drums), and Gavin Castleton:

>>2/5/15: Looking forward to playing this year's Treefort Music Festival (Boise, ID) March 26-29.

>>12/1/14: We will be the musical guests for The Moth show at Portland's iconic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on December 15th.

>>4/1/14: Chris Speed! Dave King! Chris Tordini! Blue Cranes! In two weeks!

>>1/1/14: Happy New Year! We will be touring on the East Coast next week, including a show at NYC Winter Jazzfest. It would be great to see you out there! A big thank you to the Regional Arts and Culture Council for help with funding this tour.

>>9/30/13: Coming up in November at the newly renovated Alberta St. Pub: Kneebody + Blue Cranes.

>>9/15/13: Really looking forward to playing with Ben Goldberg's Unfold Ordinary Mind (feat. Nels Cline, Ches Smith, Ellery Eskelin, Rob Sudduth) next week in Portland:

>>7/14/13: Looking forward to performing in Seattle this coming Saturday (7/20) in a double bill with a group performing the music of John Zorn/Naked City's Torture Garden (featuring Wayne Horvitz, Mike Stone, Brad Mowen, Keith Lowe, Tristan Gianola, and Blue Cranes' Reed Wallsmith), and in Portland on Sunday headlining the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival!

>>7/13/13: Thanks everyone for coming out to our Music Millennium in-store last night! That was really fun.

>>6/5/13: Los Angeles--we'll be there tomorrow night at the Blue Whale with Dylan Ryan Sand. Pick of the night in the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly!

>>5/26/13: Thank you all for a wonderful release party on Friday night. We'll be on tour in California and Southern Oregon next week. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Click below to see some wonderful photos by Inger Klekacz from our release show:

>>5/15/13: Really looking forward to releasing our new album in Portland at Mississippi Studios, and then touring the West Coast. click here for tickets.

>>4/15/13: Pre-order a special limited edition version of Swim on colored vinyl or CD and help raise funds for Blue Cranes. Includes a special handmade insert designed by Tiny Little Hammers, screen printed by Papercut Press, and signed by the band. To place an order, click here.

>>4/14/13: So excited!!! Our new album, Swim, will be released nationally on June 4th, 2013 (Portland release show on May 24th). This is our first time collaborating with producer Nate Query (The Decemberists / Black Prairie) and Cuneiform Records. It will be available on Colored Vinyl and CD. The cover image is by photographer Megan Kathleen McIsaac:

>>3/26/13: Really looking forward to playing with Joel Harrison's Spirit House (featuring Brian Blade, Cuong Vu, Kermit Driscoll and Paul Hanson) next week in Portland.

>>2/12/13: We're looking forward to sharing the stage with composer/pianist Wayne Horvitz this Saturday night (2/16) at the Portland Jazz Festival. We'll be performing as a sextet--his music and ours. Tickets here.

>>1/18/13: News flash: we'll be releasing a new album in May 2013 on the DC/Maryland-based avant-garde label Cuneiform Records. More soon!

>>12/28/12: Next week, after you recover from New Year's Eve, join us as we support 1939 Ensemble in a benefit for Portland's KZME Radio:

>>10/30/12: Coming up next week with our friends from storm ravaged NYC--Jessica Lurie (sax/composition), Brandon Seabrook (guitar), Rene Hart (drums), Allison Miller (drums):

>>10/19/12: Battle Hymns and Gardens (featuring Blue Cranes' Joe Cunningham and Reed Wallsmith on saxes/composition) are presenting ECM's Elina Duni in Portland next week:

>>9/10/12: We have a track featured today on NPR's A Blog Supreme, in an article about the melding of jazz and punk.

>>9/9/12: Portland show coming up!

>>7/8/12: California!!! Here we come!!!

>>6/8/12: We are performing this Saturday in the Creative Music Guild's Improvisation Summit of Portland. This two day festival features a staggering number of talented improvisors. In addition to our set, members of Blue Cranes will be performing in several large and small ensembles with dance and film.

>>3/11/12: The critically acclaimed composer/pianist Graham Reynolds of Austin, TX is joining us in Portland for a show with Classical Revolution PDX as a part of the March Music Moderne Festival of new classical music. Expect many cross-group collaborations.

>>1/17/12: Coming up in March: Tim Berne/Snakeoil with Blue Cranes in Portland:

>>1/3/12: We've uploaded a bunch of live videos from the vaults of some of our performances across the U.S. on our YouTube channel. Check back for updates.

>>1/2/12: Hillsboro!!!! Here we come!

>>10/29/11: We are presenting a series of workshops on composition this coming month:

>>10/27/11: Posters for tomorrow's show with Allison Miller's amazing band Boom Tic Boom.

>>8/1/11: We'll be playing two shows in the City of Portland's Concerts in the Park series this summer: Friday, August 12 at the Washington Park Amphitheater (w/ NW Dance Project) and Friday, August 26 at Elizabeth Caruthers Park.

>>6/17/11: Oh no! The Willamette Week cartoon department slaughtered us! (Rebecca! look ooooooout!!!!!)

>>6/7/11: Coming up!

>>5/5/11: Check out our complete TRAIN TOUR BLOG for the Willamette Week.


We made this week's New Yorker!

BROOKLYN! Here we come! Wednesday 4/13 at Barbes (and Thursday 4/14 at Littlefield!)


Blue Cranes US Train Tour dates:

3/19: PORTLAND TOUR KICKOFF: Tony Starlight's (presented by the Portland Jazz Festival)
4/1: NORTHFIELD, MN: Carleton College (performance + workshop)
4/3: CHICAGO, IL: The Hungry Brain (Emerging Improvisors series) (w/ David Bryant)
4/5: DETROIT, MI: Club Bart
4/7: ROCHESTER, NY: The Bug Jar
4/9: CAMBRIDGE, MA: The Plough and Stars (w/ Rebecca Gates)
4/10: PROVIDENCE, RI: AS220 (w/ Rebecca Gates)
4/12: HOBOKEN, NJ: Maxwell's (w/ Rebecca Gates)
4/13: BROOKLYN, NY: Barbès
4/14: BROOKLYN, NY: Littlefied (w/ Honey Ear Trio + Ben Perowsky's Moodswing Orchestra feat. TK Wonder)
4/16: PHILADELPHIA, PA: RUBA (w/ Aerial Photograph)
4/19: NEW ORLEANS, LA: Royal St. Deli
4/21: AUSTIN, TX: Fusebox Festival
4/22: AUSTIN, TX: Fusebox Festival / Play Me I'm Yours Festival
4/24: VENICE, CA: Town House Basement (w/ The Youngs)
4/25: BAKERSFIELD, CA: CSU Bakersfield (performance + workshop)
4/26: SANTA BARBARA, CA: Mercury Lounge
4/30: PORTLAND, OR: The Woods (w/ Wayne Horvitz's Pigpen)

Thank you to everyone who came out for our Train Tour kickoff show in Portland. Let the tour commence! The first show of our tour will be in Northfield, Minnesota, on Friday, April 1. We'll be blogging about our experiences on the rails on the Willamette Week website, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook pages. Updated tour dates are to the left of this page.

>>2/12/11: Thank you to NARP (National Association of Railroad Passengers) for helping promote our April train tour. NARP is a DC-based non-profit working to help rebuild what used to be an amazing rail network in the U.S. Check out an article about our train tour on the NARP Blog.

>>2/4/11: We're playing Friday, February 25 @ the Portland Jazz Festival w/ Nik Bärtsch's RONIN:

>>1/13/11: On Friday, January 21, we will be releasing two albums: Oversea Orbits and Cantus Firmus EP. Oversea Orbits: Observatories Remixed features each song of Observatories remixed / reworked / re-envisioned by: Sound installation artist / film scorer Ethan Rose (Portland / Chicago); singer/songwriter/producer Gavin Castleton (Portland / Providence); Gameboy pop artist Jonny Classic (Providence, RI), early dub, dancehall, and sound system-influenced Gulls (Portland); the jagged beats and gloomy melodies of Quiet Countries (Portland); Elders' post punk blown-out through a full stack (Davis, CA); improvised looping artist JP Jenkins (Portland); and improviser/electronic artist Doug Theriault (Portland). The enhanced CD also includes three bonus videos: "Ritchie Bros.," by the dada-esque Weird Fiction, "Grandpa's Hands" by found footage master Dennis Hitchcox, and "Blue Cranes Shredz" by Shredz worshippers Chris Hudson and Gavin Castleton. The cover art was designed and hand screened by Eric Redpath and Jessica Cooke at Papercut Press (Davis, CA). Cantus Firmus is an EP of Blue Cranes covering Blonde Redhead, David Bazan and the Red House Painters. It was recorded at SuperGiant Studios in West Linn, Oregon, and features Kyleen King on violin/viola. The release show will be at the Secret Society Ballroom (Portland) with Gulls / JP Jenkins Duo, Gavin Castleton, and Doug Theriault. More info to the left.

>>12/20/10: We just found out that Blue Cranes will receive funding through the Regional Arts and Culture Council to compose and record our next album!

>>12/16/10: Opening tonight! Blue Cranes perform to dance pieces choreographed by Minh Tran, Carla Mann, Andrea Parson, Tracey Durbin, Sarah Slipper and Kemba Shannon. See info to the left.

>>12/1/10: This will be in Santa Cruz on Fri. Dec. 10, and Davis on Sar. Dec. 11!:

>>11/24/10: Seattle, Bay Area, Portland: we are coming your way this December. see dates to the left.

>>11/19/10: We are the musical guests on Live Wire! Radio tonight at the Alberta Rose Theater (Portland). This show will be broadcast on Saturday, 11/27 at 7pm PST on 91.5 FM in Portland, and on the web at OPB.ORG.

>>10/28/10: Tractor Tavern (Seattle) w/ string trio!

>>10/17/10: We're looking forward to double billing Oct. 27 with Scott Amendola (Nels Cline / Charlie Hunter / Bill Frisell), John Shifflett, and Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217, Brian Blade, Chicago Underground Trio)

>>10/1/10: Our heros from the North! at the beautiful TaborSpace in Portland!

>>9/14/10: Thank you Music Millenium!

>>9/12/10: Our Kickstarter campaign to tour the U.S. by train in Spring 2011 was successfully funded yesterday!!! If you are interested in helping us find a show in your town, please contact us! Thank you to everyone who participated!!!!

>>9/10/10: Press for the Portland pre-release of Observatories:

The Oregonian
Willamette Week
Portland Mercury
CD Baby Editor's Pick
Oregon Music News

Arts Dispatch

>>07/09/10: Press Release for Observatories:

Portland, OR’s Blue Cranes Release 3rd Album of Indie-Tinged Chamber Music, “Observatories,” September 14, 2010

It takes a minute for a band to hurdle growth spurts and become the eloquent ensemble it hopes to be. But striving for a truly individual sound, one that depends on the contributions of each member is a noble goal. After three years as a quintet with two saxophones up front, Blue Cranes have achieved such a victory. They prove it with Observatories.

On its third album, everything gels for the acclaimed instrumental outfit from Portland, Oregon. Working that thin line between prog-jazz improvisation and indie rock catchiness, the band arrives at a unique spot. Like forebears such as The Ordinaires and The President, and contemporaries like Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors and John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet, Blue Cranes have found ways to make exploration seem like the most enjoyable process around.

The songs and performances on Observatories are all about rewards of collective articulation..... [read more]



National Street Date: Tuesday, September 14
Portland Release Show: Saturday, August 28
California Sneak Preview Tour: August 18-26



>>2/21/10: tour! (with kickoff 2/27 at pdx jazz festival)

>>2/10/10: Well look at that! Blue Cranes popped up in Dell's press release for the Mini 3:

>>1/27/10: Coming up in February at The Know with good friends from Davis, California (Elders):

>>1/14/10: Donate to Haiti relief: Oxfam, Mercy Corps, Partners in Health.

>>1/7/10: Thanks to everyone who came out to the Mission Theater two nights ago. Our next show is an intimate two set night at Blackbird Wine (details to the left). I'm looking forward to expanding the quiet end of our dynamic range in this room with no p.a.

>>10/21/09: We are finished tracking our new album. Thank you to Timothy Young (guitar), Anna Fritz (cello), Kyleen King (viola), Marilee Hord (violin), and everyone in the adhoc percussion and vocal sections who joined us for the recording. Immense thanks to Jason Powers at Type Foundry for engineering. Now to mix!

>>10/06/09: We are performing with NYC's Claudia Quintet this Halloween (see details on the left):

The Claudia Quintet is made up of: John Hollenbeck (drums), Drew Gress (bass), Chris Speed (clarinet & tenor sax), Matt Moran (vibes), Ted Reichman (accordion).

This will be an early show (6:30 doors, 7pm show). Blue Cranes will play first.

>>7/24/09: California here we come.

OLD NEWS: click here

"A force of nature."

"Rich melodies."

"Strong backbeats."

"Joyous interplay."

"One of Portland's brightest lights."

"Says more than most singer-songwriters—without any words at all."

"A truly unconventional approach to improvised music."

[read more reviews...]


Reed Wallsmith - alto sax
Joe Cunningham - tenor sax
Rebecca Sanborn - keyboards
Jon Shaw - bass
Ji Tanzer - drums

Since their formation in 2004, Blue Cranes have become a key player in the Portland, Oregon creative music/DIY scene and one of the most exciting groups to keep tabs on in the Northwest. They've developed a singular musical voice grounded in melody and explosive improvisations--marking off their unique microcosmic territory in post-jazz circles.

Keeping a band together, particularly among the mercurial community of jazz musicians, is no small feat. Other gigs beckon. Life outside of making art takes precedence. It’s a reality that makes the continued existence and progression of Portland quintet Blue Cranes feel so momentous. The ensemble — saxophonists Reed Wallsmith and Joe Cunningham, drummer Ji Tanzer, keyboardist Rebecca Sanborn, and bassist Jon Shaw — has been working together in a variety of formats since 2004, creating a solid body of work that has connected them to both the traditional sounds and the future-minded artists of their chosen genre.

What has kept them together, even as Cunningham has lived outside of Portland for the past few years, is strong personal and creative bonds. As a collective, their remit has always been to continually push their art further and further outside their comfort zones and to the edges of their abilities. It’s what fueled the group’s last album, 2021’s Voices, which found Blue Cranes recording for the first time with an assortment of vocalists (Laura Gibson, Edna Vazquez, Holland Andrews, Peter Broderick, Laura Veirs). And that desire to stretch even further beyond their previous work is at the heart of their new album My Only Secret. “I felt like I was getting in a rut, harmonically,” Wallsmith says. “I was trying to get out of that. To bring in more complexity and not do the same thing again.”

To that end, Wallsmith brought elements of twelve-tone and through-composition into his writing. “Semicircle” has an ever changing tonal center, while “Forward” keeps shifting and evolving in the manner of cloud formations being pushed along the sky. Cunningham, meanwhile, took on a nonlinear form of songwriting. “Gaviota” evokes the minimalist work of John Adams with its intertwining melodies and an extended coda that brings in some rattling percussion, the flute playing of John C. Savage, and the trombone of James Powers.

Another major shift for the band was to change the way they recorded My Only Secret. Created during the height of the quarantine, Blue Cranes altered their usual way of recording out of necessity, tracking each part separately and in duets across the studio window in Wallsmith’s basement. With some help from longtime cohorts Jason Powers and Todd Sickafoose, Wallsmith built the songs up using the individual components, usually adding Tanzer last in the process, because, he notes, “Ji is such an expressive player and is so in the moment, reacting to what’s happening. I felt like we’d lose all that otherwise.” Even with this temporal separation, says Cunningham, “it was like we were responding to each other. There was communication happening in the same space but at different times. And somehow it sounds like we’re playing live in the same room.”

What will always stay the same with Blue Cranes no matter how much they change as people, as players and as composers is the vibrant emotional core within the music they create. Each song on My Only Secret has a core memory attached to it, whether it is the birth of a child (“Sloan”), a parent’s comfort after the death of a beloved pet (“Rhododendron”), or the agony of the 2016 election results (“Forward”). They feel every moment of every song deeply, something which colors every note they play. “We’re a good emotional band,” says Cunningham. “We can go to that place.” The beauty of My Only Secret, like all of the work Blue Cranes has produced to date, is that they want anyone and everyone to join them.



Matt Merewitz - Fully Altered Media