Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy CD Release Party ~ Thursday, July 29, 2010 ~ 8:00 – 9:30pm
Stick around after for the Roger Humphries Jazz Jam Session
CJ’s Restaurant and Lounge
2901-2911 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Citiparks Bach, Beethoven and Brunch ~ Sunday, July 18 ~ 10:30 am – noon
Pittsburgh Guitars presented by MCG Jazz
Fifth and Shady Avenues, Point Breeze/Squirrel Hill
Monroeville Jazz Festival~ Saturday, July 17, 2010 ~ 3:00 – 9:00pm
Boyce Park Wave Pool North Parking Area
Free with a non-perishable food donation for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Line-up: (all local musicians)
Center of Life Youth Jazz Band
Etta Cox – Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald
Mike Tomaro – Tribute to Benny Goodman (I’m playing in this band)
Eric Mintel Quartet with Donna Bailey – Tribute to Dave Brubeck
For over 15 years Paul Gertner and I have been combining Jazz and Magic in performances and corporate presentations. The latest iteration of the presentation took place at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA, June 14-20, 2010.
Over the years we have explored many connections between Jazz and Magic. In jazz we learn standards like “Take the A Train” and in magic we learn the classics such as the “cups and balls routine.” The great magicians are master improvisers just like the master jazz musicians, and both art forms focus greatly on interaction with their audiences. Also, magicians build there routines based on the tremendous legacy of previous magicians just as we do in jazz. Most importantly, both Jazz and Magic have a deep respect for the masters that have paved the way for what we do now.
See a version of JazzMagic we did for a recent TEDx Conference in Pittsburgh:
As Charles “Teenie” Harris’ photography poetically illustrate, Pittsburgh has been home to a long line of great jazz artists. Masters such as Roy Eldridge, Billy Eckstein, Art Blakey, Mary Lou Williams, George Benson and others were not only great performers but leaders, educators, composers and arrangers. Their influence is heard throughout the world and their legacy lives on through the tenacity and commitment of organizations like MCG Jazz and itsPittsburgh Jazz Legacy Project.
Pittsburgh has been at the epicenter of jazz since the 1930s when all the great big bands of the era would stop in the city, for as long as a month, to perform on their way from New York City to Chicago. The significant number of Jazz Legends who got their start in Pittsburgh is due, in part, to this exposure. Over the past century, cultural diversity coupled with robust philanthropic support for the Arts in the Pittsburgh region has laid the foundation for jazz to flourish and has produced many of the greatest Jazz Masters the world has ever known.
With support from BNY Mellon, MCG Jazz is excited to announce the release of a new CD by the 21st Century Swing Band entitled,Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy. The 21st Century Swing Band features nine of Pittsburgh’s finest musicians with special guests Roger Humphries, John Wilson, Maureen Budway and Joe Negri. Each of the 15 songs is dedicated to a specific Pittsburgher whether it is Stanley Turrentine, Henry Mancini, Dakota Staton or Ray Brown.
In 1979, I started a band while as an undergraduate at Ithaca College calledAURORA. The band had trumpet, saxophone, trombone, guitar, bass, piano and drums. It was such and exciting period for jazz as the mixing with rock, Latin and R&B gave jazz musicians the opportunity to play in places that were new for jazz musicians. The band played instrumental jazz with a Tower of Power or Chicago type approach which appealed to the college crowd. We would play in dance clubs and perform the Average White Band tune– “Pick Up the Pieces” for 20 minutes with long solos and a hip groove. Then we would play something from Jeff Lorber, Chick Corea, The Brecker Brothers, The Crusaders and maybe Freddie Hubbard’s “Super Blue” to let the kids cool off. The cats in the band were transcribing tunes off the records at a breakneck pace and we were having a ball playing this music while learning new harmonies and grooves at the same time.
Now, 30 years later, I put together an updated version of the band here in Pittsburgh with my brother Jay (who was in the original band) and Mike Tomaro the fantastic arranger and reed player here in town. All three of us cut our teeth on this music and we have had a tremendous time going down memory lane in the process of picking out the tunes. The other three musicians James Johnson III, Alton Merreland Jeremy MacDonald were not even born when we were playing this music in 1979! While we have only had one gig so far, the experience of recreating this music and playing it with a new generation of musicians has been very gratifying – hopefully more to come. Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on great tunes from the 1975-85 era. Our next scheduled gig is August 22nd as part of the Reservoir of Jazz Series at Highland Park at 5PM.
We just finished three days of of live concerts with Keiko Matsui and Bob James playing four hands on one piano. Something that you certainly don’t see everyday. We filmed the concert which will be a part their new project to be released later this year. It was a fantastic experience working with Bob and Keiko and witnessing their virtuoso performances night after night.
Visit www.bobjames.com for information when you might catch the show in your town.
I’ll be posting a video clip here as soon as it’s ready.