JazzTimes: A post-pandemic move from the street to the stadium is paying dividends
For years, the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF) took place on the street. Over one weekend in June, Downtown thoroughfares Penn Avenue or Liberty Avenue were closed off to traffic to make room for three stages. While the festival, which began in 2011, also featured some indoor ticketed concerts, the outdoor events were free to anyone lured in by the music.
Then 2020 came and Downtown was quiet.
Last summer, the festival came back with a twist: The two-day event moved across the Monongahela River to Highmark Stadium, with multiple stages set up on the artificial turf field that serves as home to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer team. Admission was no longer free, but a one- or two-day pass granted access to seven acts each day. The sound was fine for anyone sitting in the stadium seats, but most attendees opted to get closer, setting up their own folding chairs on the field, shifting between the stages with each act. Clearly, if you book it, they will come.
On September 16, the 12th Pittsburgh Jazz Festival kicked off at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) with a sold-out concert by Ron Carter Foursight. The esteemed bassist, still looking youthful at 85, clearly hasn’t grown tired of the iconic bassline he created for “Seven Steps to Heaven” with Miles Davis in 1963. It sounded as fresh as ever, coming amid a set that flowed from one tune to the next. When Carter hit a double-stop that slid up the neck, the weight and clarity of his tone were breathtaking. Pianist Renee Rosnes sounded especially fiery throughout the evening, angular and aggressive one moment, digging deep into “My Funny Valentine” the next. Jimmy Greene (tenor saxophone) and Payton Crossley (drums) completed the group, which seemed to be communicating on a higher wavelength.
Following the set, Janis Burley Wilson, president and CEO of the AWAACC and driving force behind the PIJF, presented Carter with the festival’s 2022 Luminary Award, thanking him for “85 years of light.” The festivities continued at the Wilson Center all night with A Taste of Jazz, which included jam sessions led by pianist Orrin Evans and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Frank Lacy.
This might be personal preference, but the opportunity to be among a crowd seeing live performances in an open-air venue on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 17) felt pretty thrilling. Maybe it was something to do with sitting on a 360-foot-wide field with a great view of the city behind the stage. Or the feeling of community generated by sharing space with fellow jazz fans. But the excitement level was high from the moment Melissa Aldana led off the day’s program at Highmark.
The tenor saxophonist’s set, drawn from her recent 12 Stars album, presented the ideal opening act, balancing a pensive delivery with the palpable urge to stretch out within the music. At times, Aldana recalled Charles Lloyd, using a tone that felt gentle as she explored melodic territory with aggression. “Intuition” was galvanized by some leaps into the upper register of her horn, not for a shrill effect but as an extension of her line.
Guitarist Dan Wilson hails from Akron, Ohio but, as Scott Hanley of jazz radio station WZUM pointed out, that city is “just a traffic jam away from Pittsburgh.” It explains why the guitarist, who has recorded for Christian McBride’s Brother Mister imprint, shows up regularly on the city’s club scene. His set bypassed his original tunes in favor of energized works by McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, and John Scofield. The latter’s “Let the Cat Out” inspired the quartet to extend beyond the blues structure, with Wilson getting into some wild rhythmic angles that propelled him further.
By mid-afternoon, the sun was beating down on the field, but as soon as pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s rhythm section launched its first song, a couple dozen dancers flocked to the plastic tile floor set up in front of the stage. Vocalist Aymée Nuviola encouraged them, many of whom swayed and stepped for the entire hourlong set.
It seems no jazz festival is complete without throwing together some “all-star” group of musicians, but PIJF had the right idea. “D Byrd@90: Tribute to Donald Byrd and the Blackbyrds” added to the party atmosphere of the day with a band that included another almost-hometown hero, trumpeter Sean Jones. (He hails from Youngstown, Ohio but lived and taught in town for several years.) The group also included Frank Lacy (trombone, vocals), Gary Bartz (alto saxophone), Endea Owens (bass) and, fresh from a set with his Kinfolk group, Nate Smith (drums). Songs like “You and Music” and “Change (Makes You Want to Hustle),” with their singalong choruses, might skew away from jazz, but Bartz in particular delivered a solo during the former tune that went beyond mere party blowing. Orlando Watson added depth with a deep piece of sociopolitical spoken word.
Saturday’s bill also featured the Vanisha Gould Quartet and Stanley Clarke N 4ever. Vocalist Gould performed with the unique instrumentation of piano, viola and upright bass, which played up the drama in songs like “Fall in Love with Me in the Fall.” Clarke, the legendary fusion bassist, closed out the evening with a band of 20-somethings who have clearly digested their leader’s visceral style, even if that means they sometimes veered toward excess during solos.
It bodes well when your opening band has a Hammond B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes, and clavinet onstage. DJ Harrison of Butcher Brown played all three as the Virginia-based quintet led off Sunday’s program. Their blend of electric jazz, funk backbeats, and hip-hop would almost have been better suited to a late-day set, when the park would be filled up. Nevertheless, Butcher Brown, who also performed here back in 2019, played with a tight urgency that maintained the edge of all their styles. Marcus “Tennishu” Tenney was especially impressive, alternating tenor saxophone and trumpet as well as spewing complex rhymes in “777.”
Vocalist Samara Joy opened her set with “This Is the Moment,” and the choice couldn’t have been more appropriate. Only 22 years old, she commanded the stage like someone with experience beyond her years, singing like a horn but wrapping herself in the lyrics, as opposed to using them for gymnastics. Part of her appeal comes from her midrange voice, which touches on Betty Carter huskiness, along with a Sarah Vaughan influence. When someone this young writes such perceptive lyrics for Fats Navarro’s “Nostalgia,” seeming to get into the great bop trumpeter’s head by converting his original solo into syllables, it’s clear she’s going places.
Before bassist Buster Williams performed a solid, straight-ahead set with his quartet, another bassist honored one of Pittsburgh’s veteran jazz players. Gerald Veasley, who serves as president of Jazz Philadelphia, presented drummer Roger Humphries with the 2022 Living Legacy Jazz Award, presented by PECO in connection with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Humphries, who played on Horace Silver’s Song for My Father, gave up his life on the road after touring with Ray Charles, preferring to raise a family and to perform and teach locally. Accepting the award, Humphries graciously brought his wife Regina onstage with him and talked both about her and the legions of musicians he’s nurtured.
Chief Adjuah (the artist initially known as Christian Scott) spoke during his set about how his bandmates have studied music from different cultures and incorporate that into their performance. This musical research could be felt in what was one of the most dramatic sets of the festival. Though primarily a trumpeter, Adjuah began by playing his custom-made Adjuah Bow, a stringed instrument similar to the African n’goni or kora, creating a pedal-point drone. As he sang, his group built a deep groove, steered largely by djembe master Weedie Braimah and trap drummer Ele Howell. When he moved to trumpet, the bent bell on Adjuah’s horn enabled him to create a swirling effect that added range to his already penetrating tone.
After that, anything might seem anticlimactic. But the rest of the evening pushed back on straight jazz, moving toward the party mode. The Average White Band, fun as they were, felt a bit lite after Adjuah’s heavy set. Ledisi followed, by which time the audience had swelled to the biggest size of the weekend, with folding chairs as far as the eye could see. Despite the relatively recent release of Ledisi Sings Nina, her set included only one song associated with Nina Simone, a funked-up version of “See-Line Woman.” She took a few breaks to show off her scatting skills, but most of the set was geared more toward R&B. Not that the audience minded. Ledisi’s recurring message of “Love yourself by any means necessary” drew loud responses from the field.
Incognito, on the other hand, harked back to the time when jazz and R&B flowed together in a more organic way. The British-based group debuted in 1981 with the album Jazz Funk, and its sound still fits that description all these decades later. Three horns, electric piano, and four vocalists—including Maysa Leak, who’s been working with the band since 1992—brought the festival to a rousing finish, energizing even those who might have been oversaturated by so much music.
Janis Burley Wilson, President/CEO of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and jazz singer Vanisha-Arleen Gould join WBGO News Director Douglas Doyle to talk about the lineup and history behind the festival.
Pittsburgh: A City Where Jazz History Leads the Future
Celebrate the Legacy of Jazz at the 2022 Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Produced by the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and Presented by Citizens Bank, September 16 – 18 at AWAACC and Highmark Stadium
PITTSBURGH, PA, August 29, 2022 – Never just a stop on the circuit, Pittsburgh has long been a town that has grown jazz, cultivated it, celebrated it and called it its own. One need not look any further than the storied Hill District – once known as the “Crossroads of the World” and “Little Harlem.” To have walked down Wylie Avenue in its heyday, on any given night one might have moved from the Crawford Grill to the Savoy Ballroom to the Hurricane Club to the Bambola Social Club, grooving to the likes of Basie or Ellington, swooning over Ella, or bopping with Coltrane, Mingus, or Dizzy. It was all there. The spirit and energy of jazz was never just a visitor to Pittsburgh, but always a permanent resident of the city.
And, man, was Pittsburgh growing those residents. Musicians who became jazz royalty cut their teeth in this town, people like Ray Brown, Art Blakey, George Benson, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Eckstine, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine and Roger Humphries—just to name a few. In the clubs and venues on the Hill and later in downtown Pittsburgh, they drew inspiration from each other, found their voices, and nurtured sounds that they would soon take out into the world, evolving music in new and innovative ways.
When reflecting about life on the Hill, the great August Wilson once said about a Bessie Smith 78-rpm, “It gave the people in the rooming house where I lived, and also my mother, a history I didn’t know they had. It was the beginning of my consciousness that I was the carrier of some very valuable antecedents.” And now, more than a half-century since so-called urban renewal demolished daily life in the Hill District, Wilson’s sentiments couldn’t be any truer. The authorities may have razed the buildings and taken up the streets, but they still couldn’t bulldoze its spirit – one that lives on through the 2022 Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, produced by the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) and presented by Citizens Bank, September 16 – 18 at AWAACC (Highmark Stadium (510 W. Station Square Drive).
A Stellar Lineup
The 2022 Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival is not just about a past tradition that looks backward. It’s about showcasing some of the greatest living artists out there, as well as the ones we’ll be talking about for years to come. Just take a look at the lineup. On almost any given day of the festival stages, you’ll see GRAMMY® award winners and nominees, legends and some of the most talked about up-and-comers.
Looking for legends? How about Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke, Average White Band or a tribute to the renowned Donald Byrd and the Blackbyrds. Maybe something more contemporary? Check out Ledisi, Chief Adjuah (formerly Christian Scott), Nate Smith + KINFOLK, Butcher Brown or Incognito featuring Maysa Leak. Maybe you want to make a discovery? Then come hear the likes of Vanisha Gould, Dan Wilson, Laurin Talese or Samara Joy.
And these are but a few of the artists that will be appearing over September 16-18 at the 12th annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival. For the complete roster, please check out the daily lineup.
Come Down, Come Home
“Jazz is synonymous with Pittsburgh,” says Janis Burley Wilson, President & CEO of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. “It was important for me to share this strong jazz lineage, and to invite jazz lovers home to Pittsburgh for this annual festival – to celebrate who we’ve been, who we are, and who we can be.” So, come on down to this year’s Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival to hear jazz in all of its varieties and variations – an art form that is as diverse as the artists who are making it. And come on home to Highmark Stadium to celebrate a weekend in which the sounds of jazz are more than passing melodies over Pittsburgh, but instead a permanent soundtrack of our identity and heritage – a central part of the soul and spirit of the city, past and present.
Tickets for Ron Carter Foursight at the AWAACC on Friday, September 16 start at $55, and are available for purchase here. Tickets for A Taste of Jazz, starting at $47.25, are available for purchase here.
One-day Jazz Fest passes for Saturday or Sunday are available starting at $45, and two-day Jazz Fest passes are available starting at $85 for performances taking place at Highmark Stadium. For more details, and to purchase tickets, please follow this link.
Student one-day passes for $30 and two-day passes for $55 will be available for purchase in-person at the venue, as well as $12 tickets for children (ages 4-12) and free Lap Passes for children under 3. These tickets must be purchased in person at the Highmark Stadium box office.
The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival would like to thank its sponsors, including Citizens, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, UPMC, UPMC Health Plan, UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Advanced Auto Parts, P&W Motors, Pittsburgh Custom Wraps, Xfinity, Allegheny County Airport Authority, AARP, River’s Casino, The Wilson Group and the Libation sponsor, Bacardi. Partners include JazzCorner, Downbeat Magazine, JazzTimes Magazine, Flyspace Productions, Adda Coffee, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey and others. A special thank you to the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival and Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival special media sponsor, The Comcast Corporation.
ABOUT CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP, INC.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $226.7 billion in assets as of June 30, 2022. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,300 ATMs and more than 1,200 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at www.citizensbank.com or visit us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
ABOUT AUGUST WILSON AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural organization located in Pittsburgh’s cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119,000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today.
Don’t miss the Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival, also produced by AWAACC, September 14-15 at Highmark Stadium. For more information, including the daily schedules, go to http://blues.awaacc.org.
AUGUST WILSON AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL ARTISTS FOR 11th ANNUAL PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 17-19, 2021
Featuring Chaka Khan, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Christian McBride, Branford Marsalis, Patrice Rushen, Gregory Porter, Jazzmeia Horn, and more
July 20, 2021 – Pittsburgh, PA – The August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) announced today additions to the line-up, Con Alma Jam Sessions, Chaka Khan after party, and more for the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF) presented by Citizens Bank. Taking place live, in- person, from September 17-19, 2021, the 11th annual festival includes newly announced jazz bassist and bandleader Christian McBride’s New Jawn; award-winning jazz pianist and composer Patrice Rushen & Friends; and three-time Grammy-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis; who join the previously announced ten-time Grammy Award winner Chaka Khan; pre-eminent jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves; Grammy-winning instrumentalist, composer, and producer Marcus Miller, and many others. In partnership with Pittsburgh’s famed restaurant and jazz bar Con Alma (613 Penn Avenue), located in the Cultural District, AWAACC will offer an array of jam sessions throughout the weekend beginning at 10 p.m. until close as well as at host hotels throughout the city.
To ensure the health and safety of its audience, artists, and staff, the PIJF is a fully ticketed event. Tickets to Chaka Khan at the Benedum Center and performances at Highmark Stadium are available now at pittsburghjazzfest.org. AWAACC will also host the “Through the Fire” after party for Chaka Khan ticket holders, featuring live performances and other special offers at the Center on Friday, September 17 following the performance.
In addition to Chaka Khan; Dianne Reeves; Marcus Miller; Christian McBride’s New Jawn; Branford Marsalis; and Patrice Rushen & Friends, the updated festival line-up includes Grammy-winning vocalistGregory Porter; vocalistJazzmeiaHorn, winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition; two-time Edison Award-winning, trumpeter Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah; jazz and R&B duo The Baylor Project; Pittsburgh native drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, who has performed alongside Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter and Alice Coltrane; Lakecia Benjamin, chosen as the “2020 Up and Coming Artist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association; The Kenny Garrett Quintet, whose leader, saxophonist and composer Garrett, was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and, most notably, a member of Miles Davis’s band.
In partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, on Saturday, September 18 at 11 a.m. EST, the Center will present the world premiere of Jazz Time! A Musical for Children and Families on YouTube. Created and performed by local Pittsburgh talent, Jazz Time! introduces children to jazz music, tempo, melody and improvisation through an engaging story by Anqwenique Kinsel with music and lyrics by Douglas Levine, and will be available for viewing throughout the festival
In addition to late night jam sessions at Con Alma, various PIJF “Host Hotels” will offer jazz performances throughout the weekend. To learn more about the host hotels and limited available discounted rates, please visit https://pittsburghjazzfest.org/travel/.
The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF) is curated by Janis Burley Wilson, AWAACC President & CEO, who created the festival in 2011 and has built it into its a signature program of the Center. For additional details and the complete festival lineup, please visit pittsburghjazzfest.org. The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival extends the non-profit AWAACC’s mission to celebrate Black culture and the African diaspora and highlights the Center as a leader in presenting programming that reflects the diversity of Pittsburgh and the nation. To learn more about the Center and its year-round activities, please visit https://aacc-awc.org/.
AWAACC, Highmark Stadium, and the Benedum Center are committed to the utmost safety of its patrons, artists, and staff, and there will be safety measures in place following federal, state, and local guidelines. Ticket buyers will receive a communication including all safety details closer to the event to ensure that all attendees have an enjoyable and healthy experience throughout the festival.
Tickets for all performances can be purchased at pittsburghjazzfest.org.
Tickets for Chaka Khan at the Benedum Center start at $55. One-day Jazz Fest passes for Saturday or Sunday are available starting at $40, and two-day Jazz Fest passes are available starting at $75 for performances taking place at Highmark Stadium. Jam sessions at Con Alma do not require tickets
Student one-day passes for $25 and two-day passes for $40 will be available for purchase in-person at the venue, as well as $10 tickets for children (ages 4-12) and free Lap Passes for children under 3. These tickets must be purchased in-person at the Highmark Stadium box office.
The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival would like to thank its sponsors, including Citizens Bank, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, UPMC, UPMC Health Plan, UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion, and Flyspace Productions. Partners include JazzCorner, The Westin Convention Center Hotel, the Pittsburgh International Airport, Drury Hotel, Downbeat Magazine, JazzTimes Magazine, and others.
AUGUST WILSON AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER ANNOUNCES PATTI LABELLE TO HEADLINE THE 9TH ANNUAL PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
PRESENTED BY CITIZENS BANK JUNE 20-23, 2019
The weekend of June 20-23, 2019 is the 9th annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival presented by Citizens Bank. As a signature program of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF) is curated and directed by Janis Burley Wilson, the President & CEO of the AWAACC, who created and directed the jazz fest since its founding in 2011. The festival is a combination of free outdoor concerts and ticketed shows inside the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. This year, PIJF will be headlined by the incomparable Patti Labelle.
“The legendary Patti LaBelle in the intimate setting of our theater will be a one of a kind experience.”- Janis Burley Wilson
Burley Wilson says, “The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival explores Funk in many forms this year; from Butcher Brown to WAR, and Black Women Rock Coalition’s tribute to Betty Davis to Stanley Clarke Band. The program will appeal to a broad base of music fans, while we stay true to our jazz roots, and funk things up a bit. We aim to please our devoted jazz fest attendees and attract even more jazz lovers from around the world. The team at the African American Cultural Center is committed to the continued growth and success of this dynamic festival that is a celebration of joy and unity through jazz.”
THE 8TH ANNUAL PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL PRESENTED BY CITIZENS BANK HAS A NEW HOME AND MOST HIGHLY ANTICIPATED LINE UP TO DATE
June 15-17, 2018
The weekend of June 15-17, 2018, marks a pivotal milestone for the 8th annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival presented by Citizens Bank. As a signature program of the African American Cultural Center at the newly relaunched August Wilson Center, the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival will continue to be helmed by Janis Burley Wilson, the new president & CEO of the AACC, who created and directed the jazz fest since its founding in 2011. With her new appointment, she plans to make changes to the footprint and to expand the festival format. Burley Wilson says, “The new name, new venue, and expanded program will please our devoted jazz fest attendees and attract even more jazz lovers from around the world. The team at the African American Cultural Center is committed to the continued growth and success of this dynamic festival that is a celebration of joy and unity through jazz. ”
The festival moves to Liberty Avenue to take advantage of the wider street and closer proximity to the August Wilson Center. In addition, the festival will feature more educational opportunities that include master classes and artist talks throughout the weekend. On June 15th, the popular free JazzFest Crawl throughout downtown Pittsburgh features regional jazz artists performing from 5:30-9:00pm. An opening night ticketed concert with mega jazz star Marcus Miller kicks off the festival with a concert at the August Wilson Center at 7:00pm. After the concert, the Taste of Jazz party at the August Wilson Center will feature diverse live music performances; salsa, jazz, classic R & B and solo piano performances throughout the building with over 17 restaurants serving tasty samples for attendees holding tickets for the event. The evening concludes with the legendary jam sessions led by featured festival musicians.
The Pittsburgh Jazz Festival line up includes: Marcus Miller, Gregory Porter, Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Garrett, Polly Gibbons, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, Emmet Cohen with special guest, Tootie Heath, Donny McCaslin, Pedrito Martinez, Miguel Zenon, Jose Alberto, Ambrose Akinmusire, Orrin Evans, Noel Quintana, DJ Selecta, the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble and more
DownBeat Magazine: Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival Builds on the City’s History
Pittsburgh’s contributions to the jazz firmament stretch from seminal figures like Roy Eldridge, Kenny Clarke and Earl “Fatha” Hines to modern-day luminaries like Geri Allen, Steve Nelson and Jeff “Tain” Watts. But as the 21st century dawned, the onetime Steel City lacked a major jazz festival.
That began to change one day in 2009, when Janis Burley Wilson, then an executive with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, met with trumpeter Sean Jones, drummer Roger Humphries and bassist Dwayne Dolphin for a barbecue at Dolphin’s Pittsburgh-area home. Jazz advocates all, they cooked up a plan and two years later, the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival was born.
“We have a great legacy and history here,” Burley Wilson said. “It was the right time to do it.”
The inaugural event in 2011 was conceived along the lines of the Detroit International Jazz Festival, but on a smaller scale. “We wanted to make sure the festival had a certain vibe—energetic, easily accessible and free,” said Jones, then a professor at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University.
That vibe persists. At this year’s event, now called the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (June 15–17), the bulk of the action will take place on three outdoor stages near Liberty Avenue. Though the staging area will be more spacious than last year’s location, near Penn Avenue and 9th Street, about 20,000 people are expected to pack the streets to hear the music—for free.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Marcus Miller to open the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival
Marcus Miller, the jazz composer and recording artist best known as an electric bassist, will headline the opening-night concert of the eighth annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, at the August Wilson Center and outdoors on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, June 15-17.
Among those scheduled to perform are Gregory Porter, Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Garrett, Polly Gibbons, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, Emmet Cohen with special guest, Tootie Heath, Donny McCaslin, Pedrito Martinez, Miguel Zenon and Jose Alberto, Ambrose Akinmusire, Orrin Evans, Noel Quintana, DJ Selecta, the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble and more.
Janis Burley Wilson, the new president and CEO of the African American Cultural Center at the AWC, created the former JazzLive festival in 2011 and directed it during her tenure at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. She brought it with her to her new job and considers the festival to be a signature program of the center.
Visit Pittsburgh: You don’t have to be a seasoned Jazz musician to love one of Pittsburgh’s coolest and funkiest summer festivals
Join us June 15-17, for the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival presented by Citizens Bank, when Downtown Pittsburgh is transformed into a huge jazz club complete with jam sessions, beer gardens, and concerts that will keep you vibing all weekend long. With laid-back and intimate settings for some of the most highly anticipated Pittsburgh jazz performances of the year, it’s an event you won’t want to miss.
The two days of the Jazz Festival are jam-packed with music, food, and good fun. Between free and ticketed events at the August Wilson Center and beyond, the festival will feature master classes, artist talks, as well as concerts from over 140 local and international artists including Marcus Miller, Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Garrett, Polly Gibbons, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, Noel Quintana, DJ Selecta, the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble and much more.
JAZZIZ Festival Guide: 8th Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, June 15-17
The 8th annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, formerly known as Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, returns to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the weekend of June 15-17.
This year, the event will move to Liberty Avenue to take advantage of the wider street and closer proximity to Pittsburgh’s African American Cultural Center at the newly relaunched August Wilson Center. Janis Burley Wilson, who created and directed the festival since its founding in 2011, was appointed as the Center’s new president and CEO, and an official news release states that she plans to make changes to the footprint and to expand the festival format with her new appointment.
“The new name, new venue, and expanded program will please our devoted jazz fest attendees and attract even more jazz lovers from around the world,” Burley Wilson says. “The team at the African American Cultural Center is committed to the continued growth and success of this dynamic festival that is a celebration of joy and unity through jazz.”
- August Wilson Center Announces Taste of Jazz Event
- The 8th Annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival Presented By Citizens Bank Has A New Home And Most Highly Anticipated Line Up To Date (June 15-17, 2018)
- Salsa Legend, Eddie Palmieri and his Salsa Orchestra Perform Live for Hispanic Heritage Month at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture – OCTOBER 8, 2017
- Festival: 2017 Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, Cultural District
- Jazz Festival: NU GRID Featuring Jean-Paul Bourelly, Graham Haynes, Vernon Reid & DJ Logic, Cultural District
- Jazz: Newly Commissioned Performance for Children & Families, Trust Arts Education Center
- Festival: 6th Annual Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival: Traffic Notice
- Festival: Traffic Notice for Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2015
- Festival: JazzLive @ James Gallery, West End
- Festival: 5th Annual Pittsburgh JazzLive Festival Announces Featured Artists