Pittsburgh jazz festival will have them dancin’ in the streets
A summer weekend filled with cool jazz by hot local and national artists is on tap for audiences at the ninth annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival.
Produced by the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and presented by Citizens Bank, this year’s festival June 20-23 will feature traditional jazz and jazz funk beats designed to appeal to a variety of music lovers.
“From our Jazz Time program for children, to two days of free outdoor concerts, to jam sessions for the night owls, there’s truly something for everyone,” says Cydney Nunn, spokeswoman for the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
Janis Burley Wilson, president and CEO of the cultural center, has curated and directed the festival since its founding in 2011.
Along with free concerts in the streets and ticketed concerts in the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, the festival will present educational opportunities throughout the weekend that include community concerts, master classes and talks by festival artists.
“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,” Burley Wilson says.
LaBelle show sold out
Headlining the festival is world-renowned song stylist Patti LaBelle, who will perform to a sold-out crowd on June 21 in the center.
Among her best-known hit songs is “If You Only Knew,” her first solo single to hit the top of the Billboard RB chart. Other favorites include “Lady Marmalade,” “Stir It Up” (from the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack) and “Come What May,” from her 1979 album, “It’s Alright with Me.”
Following LaBelle’s performance will be a Taste of Jazz Party for ages 21 and up from 9 p.m. to midnight at the August Wilson center, featuring entertainment and food samplings from chefs at some of Pittsburgh’s best restaurants. Admission is $50.
Other featured artists
Other jazz instrumentalists and vocalists scheduled to perform during the festival weekend include Butcher Brown, described as “an up-to-the-minute throwback to the great progressive jazz bands of the ’60s and ’70s.” The Richmond, Va.-based garage jazz/funk band will play a free concert in the street at 7:30 p.m. June 21 on the Smithfield Stage.
Also performing will be Black Women Rock, dedicated to empowering young women to tell their stories through their music; The Stanley Clarke Band, featuring four-time Grammy Award winner bass player Stanley Clarke, and award-winning saxophone player Charles Lloyd.
On June 22 in the pop-up jazz club, the Jazz Studio, will be a Tamara Tunie CD release party. The actor, director and vocalist who performed her “Legends of the ’Burgh” in 2016, will debut her new project, which was recorded in Pittsburgh. Following her set will be New York-based jazz vocalist Paul Jost and his quartet.
Besides the musicians and vocalists, Nunn said this year’s Jazz Festival will feature “more food and drinks for everyone,” including a dozen food trucks and a Bacardi Bar with specially crafted mojitos, mules and margaritas.
“We’re also excited to feature for the first time live mural painting during the festival by local artist Camo Customz,” she said.
Camerin “Camo” Nesbit, founder/painter of Camo Customz, graduated from Schenley High School and Mercyhurst University. His creations are featured on custom clothing and accessories, canvas work, murals and motor vehicles.
Jazz festival schedule
Some events are free; others require paid admission. For details, visit pittsburghjazzfest.org.
8 p.m., Makaya McCraven, August Wilson Center
5:30-7 p.m., Jazz Crawl, multiple venues
7-8 p.m., Butcher Brown, 9th Street Stage
8-9:215 p.m., Patti LaBelle, August Wilson Center (sold out)
9 p.m.-midnight, Taste of Jazz Party, August Wilson Center
1:15-2 p.m., Roger Humphries’ Art Blakey Tribute, Smithfield Street Stage
2-3:15 p.m., Warren Wolf and Wolf Trap, Liberty Avenue Stage I
3:15-4:30 p.m., Joey Defrancesco, Liberty Avenue Stage II
4:30-5:45 p.m., Keyon Harrold, Smithfield Street Stage
5:45-7 p.m., Captain Black Big Band with Orrin Evans, Liberty Avenue Stage I
7:15-8:30 p.m., WAR, Liberty Avenue Stage II
9-10:15 p.m., Black Women Rock, August Wilson Center
9- 10 p.m., Tamara Tunie, Paul Jost Quartet, August Wilson Center
Noon-12:45 p.m., Alton Merrell Gospel Jazz, Smithfield Street Stage
1:15-2 p.m., Noel Quintana with special guest Ray Vega, Smithfield Street Stage
2-3:15 p.m., Nubya Garcia, Liberty Avenue Stage I
3:15-4:30 p.m., Sean Jones and Gary Bartz, Liberty Avenue Stage II
4:30-5:45 p.m., Christian Sands, Smithfield Street Stage
6-7:15 p.m., Charles Lloyd, Liberty Avenue Stage I
7:30-8:45 p.m., Stanley Clarke, Liberty Avenue Stage II
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.