JazzLive festival to be 'little different this year'
From the fusion of the jam band Snarky Puppy to the classic sound of the Jazz Messenger Legacy Band, the JazzLive International Festival will examine many sides of the genre from June 20 to 22, Downtown.
The fourth-annual event put together by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust again will center on free concerts on outdoor stages as well as an opening-night jam session and a Jazz Crawl through clubs and restaurants.
But there is an effort to “make it a little different this year” by offering some newer performers that jazz fans might not have encountered before, says Janis Burley Wilson, vice president of education and community engagement for the trust.
This also is the first year the festival will not be held during the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, an effort to give the jazz event a bigger role in creating a “busy month Downtown,” says Shaunda Miles, director of communications for the trust.
It also helps in planning, she says, because trust staffers now can concentrate on the jazz event instead of also working on arts-festival tasks.
The featured performers were announced at a new conference April 2 at the Peirce Studio, Downtown, an event that also was a kickoff to Jazz Appreciation Month.
Burley Wilson says she has seen many festivals being built about appearances by the same performers, so she tried to bring in a few acts that were new to Pittsburgh and its jazz fans.
For instance, the weekend of concerts will feature first-time performances here for harpist Brandee Younger and singer Nancy Harms.
But, she says, some of those performers will grease their introduction to the city by having a Pittsburgh connection. Upper St. Clair native Chelsea Baratz performs in Younger's band. Pianist Emmet Cohen, who has been blazing the early days of his career in New York City, will be joined by another Upper St. Clair native, Benny Benack III, who is doing the same thing in Gotham.
• Singer Dianne Reeves will close the event June 22.
• The Jazz Messenger band will feature alumni of the band founded by Pittsburgh's Art Blakey, including trumpeter Brian Lynch, and bassist Reggie Workman.
• Singer Gregory Porter, who opened Jazz Appreciation Month concerts April 1, will return.
• Vibes master Joe Locke will present a “Blues and Ballads” program.
• The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra will be joined by singer Allen Harris.
• Trumpeter Sean Jones and bassist Dwayne Dolphin will do their “Jazz Meets Funk” gig, this time joined by trombonist Fred Wesley.
Burley Wilson says the times and dates of the shows have not been determined, but the stages will be in the same places as 2013 — on Penn Avenue near Seventh and Ninth streets and on Ninth Street.
Snarky Puppy will be the featured performer June 20, she says, after the Jazz Crawl through Downtown clubs and restaurants, which ends about 9 p.m. A jam session at the Sonoma restaurant and performances at the Fairmont Pittsburgh will follow, she says.
A pop-up vinyl jazz-album store will be located on Liberty Avenue, she adds, perhaps lasting for a time beyond the festival.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.