Duo Port Mande uses music to bring many worlds together

NADINE MATTHEWS | 3/28/2019, 4:27 p.m.
Although both clarinetist Jeremy Jordan and pianist Mark Dover in the past lived in Los Angeles, it took moving to ...
Music duo Port Mande: Jeremy Jordan (left) and Mark Dover Charles Yang

Both Jordan and Dover are avid hip-hop fans. “Hip-hop,” says Jordan, “is a hybrid art form. People look at hip-hop like, it’s only music. But it’s only half music. The other half is poetry, which is a separate discipline.” He believes Andre Benjamin typifies the hip-hop artist who pays attention to both. “I was like I can tell this guy is really invested in both the music and words. He’s a powerful lyricist and poet without music at all. I like Mos Def a lot for the same reason.”

With their vast musical influences, it was interesting to find out which musicians each found particularly affecting. Jordan replies, “The great pipe organ work of Bach. He truly embodies the spirit of what being a musician is about. He looked as music as a science and as an art form. Bach is totally cerebral but also totally emotional. Most people spend their whole artistic careers trying to find that balance.”

Jazz clarinetist Eric Dolphy is an understandable favorite for Dover. “Eric Dolphy definitely is a hero of mine for sure,” he enthuses. “He almost single-handedly brought the bass clarinet into kind of the fabric of modern jazz and modern American music. So we are super indebted to him.” He also loves classical composers such as Maurice Ravel and Brahms and points to music by legendary R&B musician Donny Hathaway as having the ability to take him to another plane, spiritually speaking. “Donny Hathaway’s recording of ‘For All We Know.’ Wow! I challenge you to listen to it and not be filled with goosebumps. So many emotions, so much sadness, but also so much joy.”