MCG Jazz announces our 28th annual jazz concert season. The series begins on September 27, 2014 and runs through May 8, 2015, showcasing 24 headlining artists and over 140 individual musicians! Diversity is the key this season with artists ranging from the versatile singer and entertainer Patti Austin to MCG’s first foray into traditional blues with the Blues Hall of Fame Tour featuring Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond and James Cotton.
Debuts abound this season with several artists marking their first appearance at MCG. Cecile McLorin Salvant, 2010 Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition winner, and Cyrille Aimee, winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition will wow audiences with their unique vocal stylings. Three big bands are a part of the season, all with premiere projects. The Bob Mintzer R & Big Band project puts a unique spin on tunes from Sly Stone, the Isley Brothers, Sam and Dave, and James Brown. Many years after going out of print, Duke Ellington’s jazz symphony Black, Brown and Beige gets a reboot by master Jon Faddis and the New York Jazz Orchestra. Rounding out the big band trio is young New Orleans native son Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Representing the continuing unfolding jazz legacy of New Orleans, this band rose from the rubble after hurricane Katrina to become a source of pride for their community.
Other highlights (and names that need no introduction) include NEA Jazz Master Branford Marsalis, smooth jazz sax virtuoso Gerald Albright, and Latin jazz superstar Poncho Sanchez.
Based on subscriber feedback and a growing trend in the performing arts, we are adjusting the time of our Saturday evening performances. Rather than have performances at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm, all Saturday shows will be at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm. Thursday and Friday evening performances will remain at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm.
Choose-your-own concert subscription packages of four or more concerts are available now. Single tickets range from $49.50 – $65.00 and will go on sale in August. Please call the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Jazz Box Office at 412-322-0800 for more information or visit www.mcgjazz.org.
SPECIAL CONCERTS & EVENTS
Jazz is Balance: Live Jazz & Yoga Thursday, July 10 at 6:00 pm at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
MCG Jazz partners with local yogi LA Finfinger for this brand-new concept! Live jazz accompanies a beginner / all-levels flow style yoga class. We’ll begin with a 15-minute musical meditation, followed by a 60-minute class and relaxation. Let the music move you and inspire you. Sponsored by Fillaseat Pittsburgh, Fillaseat.com
Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Euge Groove & Peter White
Friday, July 25 at 7:30 pm
at Robert Morris University
Tickets: Reserved seats, $50; General admission, $25
MCG Jazz returns to Robert Morris in Moon for what has become the hottest jazz party of the summer! Don’t miss Jazz Attack! Trumpeter and singer Rick Braun, oft-requested sax player Euge Groove, and guitarist and MCG audience favorite Peter White come together for one stellar jam.
2014-2015 SUBSCRIPTION CONCERTS
“The woman can sing anything… Austin’s voice was flawless: clear, powerful, full-bodied and colorful. She scatted with effortless aplomb.” – The Dallas Morning News
“Austin’s a witty raconteur as well as a skillful, nuanced vocalist.” – CoolCleveland.com
“The versatile singer and entertainer has dazzled us with their songs.” – JazzMonthly.com
“She has the ability to project and express the meaning of the lyrics with such conviction. She doesn’t merely dazzle with her virtuosity, everything is at the service of the lyric.” – ClevelandClassical.com
“She radiates style and drama, singing with poise and remarkable energy.” – People Magazine
Bob Mintzer R & Big Band
Friday, October 10 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, October 11 at 8:00 pm
“Bob Mintzer seems to flourish in every music-related environment that he encounters…his versatility is his greatest virtue. He’s a monster musician with writing chops that match or surpass his stellar saxophone skills.” – All About Jazz
Bob Mintzer is a triple threat: performer, composer and music educator. The Bob Mintzer R & Big Band project puts a unique spin on tunes from Sly Stone, the Isley Brothers, Sam and Dave, and James Brown.
“Music chose me at a very early age” says Bob. “I was completely taken by the 12 tones, whether hearing music played on the radio, television, recordings, or live concerts around the New York City area. I was struck by the emotional outpouring of great musical performance and completely consumed with how the music fit together in all its glorious detail.”
Bob has a long relationship with the MCG Jazz and has recorded 4 big band recordings here: Live at MCG, Old School New Lessons, Swing Out and For the Moment, a Grammy nominee in 2013.
Cécile McLorin Salvant Ensemble
Saturday, October 25 at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
“It’s fantastic to see a young musician with this much intelligent control over her material… her final high note on “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” was basically a mic-drop, an audience slayer.” – The New York Times
When Cécile McLorin Salvant arrived at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC to compete in the finals of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, she the youngest finalist. When she walked away with first place in the jazz world’s most prestigious contest, the buzz began almost immediately and only intensified in the months leading up to the launch of her Mack Avenue Records debut, WomanChild. “She has poise, elegance, soul, humor, sensuality, power, virtuosity, range, insight, intelligence, depth and grace,” Wynton Marsalis asserts “She radiates authority,” critic Ben Ratliff wrote in The New York Times and a few weeks later his colleague Stephen Holden announced that “Ms. McLorin Salvant has it all…. If anyone can extend the lineage of the Big Three—Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald—it is this 23-year-old virtuoso.”
The Buster Williams Quartet: Something More
The Sonny Fortune Quartet
Friday, November 7 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm
The Buster Williams Quartet
“Buster Williams’s remarkable fast pizzicato technique … illuminated the ballads.” – TheGuardian.com
“Williams creates a funky vamp that has the whole audience bobbing their heads…he can create a mood that few bassists can summon so successfully.” – NotesOnJazz.com
Buster Williams is a prodigious artist whose playing knows no limits. Second in his family to play bass, he grew up in the music and has played with every jazz giant of the last 60 years. His arrangements and compositions have been recorded by Roy Ayers, Roy Hargrove, Art Blakely, & Larry Coryell, Freddie Hubbard, Buck Hill, the Jazz Crusaders, Mary Lou Williams, and Herbie Hancock, to name a few and his numerous television commercials and movie soundtracks mean you know his music, if not his name.
The Sonny Fortune Quartet
“The audience appeared mesmerized as if the spirit of John Coltrane was channeling through Sonny’s alto saxophone…a stunning performance.” – JazzTimes
“The Sonny Fortune Quartet’s inspired performance … reveals a multi-talented artist still at the top of his game.” – AllAboutJazz
When critics speak of Sonny Fortune, names like Coltrane, Cannonball, Young, Bechet, Hawkins and Parker are mentioned. Quite a legacy – but well deserved – for Sonny Fortune embodies all of the finest qualities of those late, great musicians: hard work, dedication to his art, and exceptional music. In the Spirit of John Coltrane, which features performances from Coltrane alumni Reggie Workman and Rashied Ali, underscore Fortune’s reputation as, quoting Stereophile magazine, “one of the most intriguing alto players in contemporary jazz.”
Friday, November 14 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm
“Original songwriting and show-stopping performances continue to thrill audiences everywhere. As masters of improvisation, they stay true to the music, allow its full expression, then let it take on a life of its own.” – JazzMonthly.com
Spyro Gyra returns to MCG Jazz to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their platinum record, Morning Dance, an occasion for which the band will perform that album in its entirety!
Saturday, November 22 at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
“She can blow like a trumpet or dial things down to a stillness that’s seemingly beyond silence, drawing listeners deep into a shared moment of naked vulnerability…the effect wasn’t just moving – it astonished.” – Indianapolis NUVO
“Everything I’m singing now is a reflection of my truest self,” says Jane Monheit. “After all this time in the industry, after touring for 13 years, it’s time to just be me, with complete and utter freedom.”
From the song choices to the performances, her newest album, The Heart of the Matter, is a work deeply informed by Monheit’s life- as a woman, wife, and mother in the second decade of a remarkable career- and it reaches emotional levels she attributes to an “extreme comfort zone” in the recording studio. “I’m very close with my band, so to hear Gil’s beautiful work with my family beneath it inspired me to be completely unselfconscious… I think I’ve finally reached my level of onstage, live interpretation in the studio, which has always been a challenge for me.”
“When you’re playing with people you love,” says Monheit, “it always makes for better music.”
Larry Carlton Quartet
Saturday, December 6 at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
“He performed with supple gusto, bending notes and holding them until he’d arranged the perfect marriage of bebop and blues.” – The Dallas Morning News
Guitarist and composer Larry Carlton was faced with a choice a number of years back: whether to go solo and develop a name for himself or to continue the less risky, more lucrative existence as a session guitarist, making good money and recording with prominent musicians. Fortunately for fans of this eclectic guitarist, he chose the former, and has been selling out halls and impressing live audiences since 1978.
Christmas with New York Voices: Let it Snow!
Friday, December 12 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm
“They’re impressive to witness. We dare say there may be no better way to understand the wit and wink of jazz harmony than via these Voices.” – Time Out Chicago
The Grammy Award winning vocal group has refined their musical story to a high art. They are known for their close-knit voicings, inspired arrangements and unparalleled vocal blend. Their chameleon-like musicianship allows them to move seamlessly from setting to setting, be it orchestral/big band to the intimate trio lineup. With deep interests rooted in jazz, Brazilian, R & B, classical, and pop, their music mixes traditional sensibilities with more than a dash of the unexpected. Like the great jazz vocal groups that have come before — Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Singers Unlimited, and The Manhattan Transfer — they are firmly a part of that legacy and are dedicated to passing it on to generations to come.
Friday, February 6 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm
“Marsalis is such a master musician that he can keep his audience riveted with even the softest of sonic outputs.” – The Jerusalem Post
The Marsalis family legacy is the gold standard in modern jazz and NEA Jazz Master, renowned Grammy Award®-winning saxophonist and Tony Award® nominee composer Branford Marsalis carries on this legacy and is one of the most revered instrumentalists of his time. The three-time Grammy Award® winner has continued to exercise and expand his skills as an instrumentalist, a composer, and the head of Marsalis Music, the label he founded in 2002 that has allowed him to produce both his own projects and those of the jazz world’s most promising new and established artists.
Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Thursday, February 19 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm
The mission of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra is to inspire freedom and culture in the individual and the global community by creating authentic, engaging jazz experiences that celebrate the origins and transform the future of Jazz. Representing the continuing unfolding jazz legacy of New Orleans, this band rose from the rubble after hurricane Katrina to become a source of pride for their community.
Founder and bandleader Irvin Mayfield is on a path to position jazz at the center of American culture. His virtuosity and devotion to the music has made Mayfield one of the most recorded and decorated jazz musicians of his generation.
James Carter Organ Trio
Trombone Choir featuring Andy Martin, Jay Ashby & Jeff Bush
Saturday, February 28 at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
James Carter Organ Trio
“Listening to 43-year-old saxophone phenom James Carter, you get the impression that he can play anything he wants on his instrument.” – TwinCities.com
“When the players are as gifted as the James Carter Organ Trio, the jazz organ trio is a source of non-stop excitement. Carter is… always dazzling, always melodic, and presides with a beatific smile: it’s as if he’s channeled every great sax player ever.” – TheGuardian.com
Trombone Choir featuring Andy Martin, Jay Ashby & Jeff Bush
Don’t miss our tribute to the underappreciated tenor voice of the brass section! With Andy Martin (lead trombonist on the wildly popular television show “Dancing With The Stars”,) Jay Ashby (featured throughout four worldwide tours with Paul Simon) and Jeff Bush (veteran of The Glenn Miller Orchestra and Harry Connick Jr.’s big band.)
Kenny Barron Solo
Saturday, March 7 at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
Kenny Barron Solo
“Pianist/composer Kenny Barron epitomizes legend status, [and is] considered to be among jazz’s greatest pianists.” – Popmatters.com
“Poignant. Very expressive… There are few pianists today that excite me as much as Kenny Barron….” – New York Jazz Report
Whether he is playing solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition. His unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms has made him one of the undisputed masters of the jazz piano.
“When you see Cyrille Aimée perform, you instantly fall in love with her—her voice, eyes, curls and the joyful spirit she invests in each song.” – JazzTimes
In a Wall Street Journal feature on Cyrille (and vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant), writer Will Friedwald declared her “An astonishing and creative singer, with a brilliant sound, fresh ideas, impeccable rhythm and an overall approach that honors tradition without being shackled to the past.” Cyrille was the winner of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s International Vocal Competition, the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition and was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition.
Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige performed by
The Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra of New York
Friday, March 27 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, March 28 at 8:00 pm
“Triumphant!” — The Chicago Tribune
Many years after going out of print, Duke Ellington’s jazz symphony Black, Brown and Beige gets a reboot by master Jon Faddis and the New York Jazz Orchestra. After a performance of the piece, Chris Ernst of Nique.net said, “the heyday of jazz is easy to feel. Faddis’ virtuosic playing was mesmerizing.” Don’t miss this incredible night of music from a bygone era.
Friday, April 10 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm
“Gerald Albright burns on his soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes … his instincts for groove and musicianship go a long way in contemporary jazz.” – JazzTimes
With 15 CDs under his belt and one collaboration CD, saxophonist Gerald Albright has definitely gained his place in the music world as a player, songwriter and producer. His last visit to Pittsburgh was with 2013’s “Summer Horns Tour.” Whether he is playing contemporary or straight-ahead jazz, Albright stands in a class all by himself. He is known for his swiftness on stage, his unique round sound which is percussive yet soulful. He has the ability to surprise the audience with something out of the ordinary. Albright gives his audience what they come for – a great show!
John and Gerald Clayton Duo
Saturday, April 18 at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
Coryell is making some of the most exhilarating, ballsiest music of his career. – Vintage Guitar Magazine
As one of the pioneers of jazz-rock — perhaps the pioneer in the ears of some — Larry Coryell deserves a special place in the history books. He brought what amounted to a nearly alien sensibility to jazz electric guitar playing in the 1960s, a hard-edged, cutting tone, phrasing and note-bending that owed as much to blues, rock and even country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences.
John and Gerald Clayton
“The father-son connection works to create some real magic. They put together a straight-ahead jazz set that is both melodic and imaginative.” – BlogCritics.org
John and Gerald Clayton present father / son, bass / piano duo. This creative adventure was crowd-sourced as part of John Clayton’s “The Parlor Series” and a recent album release shares that name.
Blues Hall of Fame Tour: Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond & James Cotton
Saturday, May 2 at 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
“John Hammond is a master… He is a virtuoso. A Conjurer… a Modernist.” – T Bone Burnett
“Legendary is an overused term, but it’s also the only word that suits the heavyweight blues harpist, Charlie Musselwhite.” – Time Out New York
“Conjure up a list of all-time great blues harmonica players, and high up on it you’ll see the name James Cotton.” –NPR
“James Cotton is the greatest blues harmonica player alive today….Riveting, aggressive, rock-ready blues-harp.” –Wall Street Journal
The Blues Hall of Fame Tour celebrates those most significant artists who have forged and advanced Blues history. Since its inception in 1980, The Blues Foundation has inducted members for their historical contribution, impact and overall influence on the Blues. This package tour features a rare opportunity to see three living Blues legends and Hall of Fame inductees together on one stage!
Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band:
Tribute to Cal Tjader
Friday, May 8 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm
Poncho Sanchez’s music is best described as a kaleidoscopic swirl of some of the hottest colors and brightest lights to emerge from either side of the border. At any given show, on any given record, fragments of Latin jazz, swing, bebop, salsa and other infectious grooves collide and churn in a fiery swirl, with results that are no less than dazzling.
At 24, Poncho landed a permanent spot in Cal Tjader’s band. “I learned a great deal from Cal,” says Sanchez, “It was just a matter of being around such a great guy. It was the way he conducted himself, the way he talked to people, the way he presented himself onstage. He was very elegant, very dignified, and when he played, he played beautifully. The touch that he had on the vibes – nobody has that sound. To me, he was – and is, and always will be – the world’s greatest vibe player.” This concert tour and album is a true homage and tribute to Cal.