30th Anniversary Concert Series – Description of Performances

Michael Feinstein Trio – September 23 and 24, 2016

Michael Feinstein has built a dazzling career over the last three decades bringing the music of the Great American songbook to the world. From recordings that have earned him five Grammy Award nominations to his Emmy nominated PBS-TV specials, his acclaimed NPR series and concerts spanning the globe – in addition to his appearances at iconic venues such as The White House, Buckingham Palace, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House – his work as an educator and archivist define Feinstein as one of the most important musical forces of our time.

TIZER featuring Chieli Minucci, Karen Briggs, Eric Marienthal and Gerald Veasley, joining Lao Tizer– October 7, 2016

“Driven by an explosive mix of jazz, rock, classical, jam band influences and Afro Cuban and world rhythms.” – Downbeat

The band’s multi-genre, multi-national appeal expands beyond just jazz with a diverse resume that includes performance slots alongside Zappa Plays Zappa, Jethro Tull, Isaac Hayes, Al Jarreau, Spyro Gyra, George Benson, Soulive, Babyface, Bruce Hornsby and Robin Thicke.

The Summit:  The Manhattan Transfer Meets Take 6 – October 22, 2016

“Take 6 and The Manhattan Transfer have combined their talents to create an evening of incredible joy, and they do it without forgetting to swing! They must be heard to be believed.” — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Brian Culbertson: FUNK! Tour -October 25, 2016

Brian is always striving to push the boundaries of the jazz scene, which is evident by his forthcoming album, Funk! due out this September. This new set is a throwback to the P-Funk records from back in the day combining infectious bass lines, greasy horn licks, sing-a-long hooks and of course, landing hard on the One. This record is also a follow-up to his widely successful Bringing Back The Funk album from 2008, which was co-produced by the late Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire.

Freddy Cole 85th Birthday Bash with Nnenna Freelon and Joel Frahm – October 29, 2016

Celebrate legend Freddy Cole’s 85th birthday.  “I started playing piano at five or six,” Freddy remembers. “Music was all around me.” In the Chicago home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton. He also credits Billy Eckstine as a major influence.  Joining in the celebration is world-renowned jazz singer, composer, arranger and six-time GRAMMY nominee, Nnenna Freelon and a saxophonist with the “big tenor sound,” Joel Frahm.

Acoustic Alchemy – November 9, 2016

Guitarists Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale celebrate a remarkable two decades plus since 1987’s Red Dust and Spanish Lace established the British ensemble as an ever evolving, powerhouse force in contemporary jazz. Their thousands of fans around the world may be feeling nostalgic, but the duo, while keeping their trademark acoustic guitar synergy front and center, is clearly committed to forging ahead. Carmichael explains the energy is the result of a natural chemistry he’s developed with Gilderdale over the years since Gilderdale (formerly a backing guitarist with the band) became Carmichael’s full partner after the passing of founding member Nick Webb in 1998 and the release that year of Positive Thinking.

An Intimate Evening with Ramsey Lewis and Ann Hampton Callaway – November 19, 2016

Ramsey Lewis has been an iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for over 50 years with an unforgettable sound and outgoing personality that has allowed him to cross over to the pop and R&B charts. Multi-platinum-selling singer, Tony nominated actress, pianist and leading champion of the American songbookAnn Hampton Callawayhas written over 250 songs, including the theme to the hit TV series The Nanny and hits for seven of Barbra Streisand’s CDs.

Monty Alexander – John Clayton – Jeff Hamilton:  Celebrating 40 years– December 3, 2016

In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has built a reputation exploring and bridging the worlds of American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica, finding in each a sincere spirit of musical expression. In the process, he has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe and entertainment world: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare.  In the mid-1970s he formed a group consisting of John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums, creating a stir on the jazz-scene in Europe. Their most famous collaboration (and arguably Alexander’s finest album) is “Montreux Alexander,” recorded during the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1976.

John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey Deluxe Holiday and More – December 16, 2016

John Pizzarelli, the world-renowned guitarist and singer, established as one of the prime contemporary interpreters of the Great American Songbook, Pizzarelli has expanded that repertoire by including the music of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Antônio Carlos Jobim and Lennon-McCartney. His themed shows, often performed with his wife Jessica Molaskey, suggest there is no limit to Pizzarelli’s imagination or talent.

“The ability to infuse pop and jazz with a Chekhovian wisdom about life’s ups and downs is the special gift of John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, long-married musical partners whose work gets deeper each year,” –The New York Times

Under 30 for the 30th Etienne Charles & Creole Soul with featured guests Jazzmeia Horn and Melissa Aldana – February 4, 2017

One of the most compelling and exciting young jazz artists ushering the genre into groundbreaking new territory is trumpeter/bandleader Etienne Charles, who, still in his 20s, has already recorded three impressive and well-received albums for his own Culture Shock Music imprint. His new album, Creole Soul, is a captivating journey of new jazz expression.

Winner of the 2015 Thelonius Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition and 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, Jazzmeia Horn has a name that speaks for itself, capturing her very essence. Hailing from the great Dallas, Texas Jazzmeia has already earned a reputation in New York as a “Rising Star.”

As a child Aldana studied with her renowned saxophonist father Marcos Aldana (son of saxophonist Enrique Aldana, whose Selmer Mark VI tenor Melissa performs with to this day). She began on alto but after hearing the landmark “Sonny Rollins + 4” she switched to tenor and never looked back.

Ray Brown Tribute with Rufus Reid, Bass Choir and Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra– February 10 and 11, 2017

Rufus Reid, one of today’s premiere bassists on the international jazz scene, with his reputation firmly established in the education arena, now adds composition to his vitae. Rufus participated in the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop for five years which has empowered him to move more deeply into the composing arena. He has written for string orchestra, jazz ensembles large and small, concert band, double bass ensemble pieces and a solo bass composition.

Reid will pay tribute to the great Ray Brown, a Pittsburgh native who is widely considered the father of modern bass playing. Reid’s performances will be comprised of three distinct acts, the first of which will open with a solo bass number, followed by a composition written for three basses. The first act will close with a song written by Dr. John Wilson, which was originally composed for and performed by an all-bass quintet at Milt Hinton’s memorial service.

Reid’s second act will showcase his trio—piano, bass, and drums—and will include songs arranged to pay tribute to Brown. For the third act, Rufus Reid will be joined onstage by the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra where they will debut a new composition written in honor of Ray Brown.

Lewis Nash Celebrates Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey with special guest Roger Humphries– February 25, 2017

“Rhythm Is My Business” is the title of Lewis Nash’s debut recording as a leader, and rhythm is a booming business as far as Nash is concerned. He is the drummer of choice for an incredible array of artists – from the masters of the music to the hottest young players of today – and is equally in demand as a clinician and educator.  Nash will pay tribute to Pittsburgh Jazz Drumming Masters, Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey and will have a drum-off with MCG Jazz Pittsburgh Jazz Legend, Roger Humphries.

DIVA Jazz Orchestra & the Boys featuring Ken Peplowski, Maurice Hines, Claudio Roditi and More – March 10 and 11, 2017

DIVA Jazz Orchestra—an all female large ensemble—will be accompanied by five male soloists including Ken Peplowski, Maurice Hines, Claudio Roditi, Marty Ashby, and Jay Ashby. DIVA & The Boys will premier 10 new arrangements, each complementary to the respective soloist. Their show will also include a brand new song written by the great Johnny Mandel who has written songs for countless artists, including Peggy Lee and Barbara Streisand.

Joey Alexander Trio – March 17, 2017

Born on the island of Bali in the city of Denpasar in 2003, Joey Alexander first encountered a piano at the age of six, and was immediately able to pick out the melody of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” and other jazz standards from his father’s record collection by ear. His father, an amateur musician, nurtured Joey’s gift for swing and improvisation by introducing him to classic jazz recordings and taking him to jam sessions with seasoned musicians in Bali and Jakarta. From there, his musical intuition flourished, as did his love of playing jazz.

Learning by listening, Joey’s early influences include Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and John Coltrane, and he has a special affinity for trumpet players including Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Despite his lack of formal jazz training, Joey developed an authoritative technique, and with his depth of musicality he quickly rose in the Indonesian jazz scene and beyond.

Bob Mintzer Big Band and New York Voices – March 31 and April 1, 2017

This will mark the US debut of this pairing of acts. Their show will include three new Minzer compositions and six brand new arrangements co-arranged by Minzer and Darmon Meader (vocalist and arranger for New York Voices). The results will blend swing, bebop, and Latin styles for a one-of-a-kind performance of big band and vocal talent.

Bob James and Howard Paul plus Benedetto Guitar’s “Future Stars” – April 8, 2017

Multi-Grammy winning piano legend Bob James met guitarist Howard Paul in Savannah when James toured the Benedetto Factory. The two played together within a week of that visit at The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, South Carolina. James and Paul have spent the last several years performing as a duo when James was not on the road with FourPlay.

This program will feature two rising star guitar players to come out of the Benedetto Guitar school.

Morgan James: Reckless Abandon Tour with special guest Andy Allo – April 10, 2017

“A phenomenal talent whose feel for classic soul music is bone deep…This woman is on fire.”

— The New York Times

One voice is all it takes. The right vocalist can make you fall in love at first listen, elicit tears, or bring you back to a different era altogether. A microphone and a stage remain the only necessities. That holds true for New York-based soul singer, songwriter, and Broadway chanteuse Morgan James. On her full-length debut for Epic Records, “Hunter,” she casts an unbreakable spell with a powerhouse voice, theatrical swing, and a soulful poise.

“Hunter” boasts powerful and personal renditions of Prince’s “Call My Name” (reached Top 15 at Urban AC radio and #1 most added) along with Hall& Oates’ “She’s Gone” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”. Morgan assumed co-writing duties on eight of the collection’s eleven tracks and even performed all of her own background vocals and harmonies.  She is proud to note that no vocal tuning of any kind has been used on any of her albums. From the empowering farewell of “Fed Up On You” to the mournful rumination of “Say The Words”, or the soulful duet with Grammy Award winner Robert Glasper, “Let Me Keep You”, she continually bares it all—both emotionally and musically.

In addition to “Hunter”, Morgan has released a live tribute to Nina Simone, ”Morgan James Live”, as well as an EP featuring some of her fans’ favorite covers, “YouTube Sessions”. (She can also be heard on countless theatre and concept soundtracks).

Since “Hunter’s” release, Morgan’s music videos have accumulated more than 45 million views (and climbing). With viral sensation Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, Morgan toured the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  She is currently touring with her band and in the midst of writing her next album!

Joining Morgan James for her show will be Cameroon-born singer and songwriter Andy Allo is an artist who is truly paving her own path with a sound and vibe that is uniquely hers.

Andy released her first album, UnFresh in 2009 and two years later, joined Prince’s New Power Generation as a singer/guitarist and worked with the legend on her sophomore album, Superconductor. That album featured a funk/soul sound and made it to #4 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart.  She has performed on Jimmy Kimmel, Guitar Center Sessions and showed her acoustic chops on Billboard Sessions Exclusive.

“We knew she’d be leading her own revolution soon,” adds Prince. Indeed, that soon is now.

30th Anniversary All-Star Smooth Jazz Celebration

Featuring Gregg Karukas, Vincent Ingala, Peter White, Chuck Loeb – April 21, 2017

One of urban contemporary jazz’s most versatile and acclaimed artists for over 25 years, Gregg won the Grammy for producing, composing, arranging, playing all keyboards and engineering Echoes of Love (a collaboration with Omar Akram), which won Best New Age Album at the 55th Grammy Awards in February 2013.

Still in his early 20s,Vincent Ingala is the charismatic saxophonist has been named Billboard Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year in 2012, Sirius XM Watercolors Breakthrough Artist of the Year in 2013, and his music is consistently found atop the most noteworthy music charts in the world, including three number one hits on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart.

Smooth jazz guitarist Peter White’s lyrical lines and musical inventiveness are a joy to listen to. The affable Englishman’s charm and playfulness come through in his music, giving his style of smooth jazz a liveliness.

Grammy nominated guitarist, composer, and producer, Chuck Loeb has had a musical career that spans over four decades, and he is proud to be known as a “renaissance man” in the music world. He is a #1 jazz recording artist; composer of over 250 published songs, network television show themes and scores; a producer of over thirty world-renowned recording artists; as well as an in-demand clinician and educator.