This year's festival theme, Bridges and Boundaries: Jewish & African Americans Playing Jazz Together represents past, present and future collaboration between African Americans and Jewish Americans. "The original idea for this festival came from Nat Henoff's writings about jazz as a meeting place for African and Jewish Americans." said Bill Royston, Artistic Director of the Portland Jazz Festival. "His writings of Steven Bernstein's 'Diaspora Blues' to the odyssey of Willie 'The Lion' Smith were of primary influence. Historically, the music drew people together, and today there is a new wave of Israeli musicians who have moved to New York and elsewhere across the United States."