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April brings changes for Pittsburgh jazz lovers

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Shawn Peters
Grammy award-winning singer Gregory Porter

Janis Burley Wilson says dealing with change is one of the keys to appreciating jazz.

For that reason, she thinks she has an appropriate lineup for this year's Jazz Appreciation Month.

“We're trying to get people to think about who they are going to be listening to down the road, whether it's five years from now or 50,” says the vice president of education and community engagement for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “We are trying to get them listening to the people who are changing the way the music feels.”

The seventh annual celebration of the National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Appreciation Month opens April 1 with concerts in the Cabaret Theater and Backstage Bar, Downtown.

It began in 2008 with a lineup of largely local stars, but has grown and changed each year, including visits from vocal star Jon Hendricks to ex-Miles Davis sideman Kenny Garrett.

Music this year begins at 5 p.m. each Tuesday, but the featured acts will be at 8 p.m., opening with Grammy award-winning singer Gregory Porter.

The 5 p.m. shows will include some of the area's leading performers, such as drummer Roger Humphries and bassist Tony DePaolis. But Wilson says the 8 p.m. shows are the heart of the celebration.

Featured are:

• April 1 — Porter, of whom Wilson admits to being a total fan. He has been here at least once a year since the first JazzLive summer festival in 2011, appearing in the Cabaret and outside in the warm months.

• April 8 — Trumpeter Sean Jones, who, Wilson says, “sounds like all the greats like Clifford Brown, but, really, sounds like himself.”

• April 22 — Bassist Christian McBride, who she says “celebrates the legacy of Paul Chambers and Ron Carter, but is always looking ahead, too.”

• April 29 — Pianist Robert Glasper, bringing in a band that is a mix between rhythm-and-blues and jazz. “Roberts is the one that's on the edge,” Wilson says. “There won't be any ‘Moonlight in Vermont' from his band.”

Wilson admits some performances may stray at times to the edge.

“But I don't think there is one polarizing person there,” she says.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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