The weekend of June 15-17, 2018, marks a pivotal milestone for the 8th annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival presented by Citizens Bank. Other sponsors include: Highmark, Advanced Auto Parts, North Coast Brewing, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Big Y Group, Richard King Mellon Foundation and Flyspace Productions. Partners include Kente Arts Alliance, Courtyard Marriot, Drury Hotel, Acrobatique Creative, Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times Magazine, Entertainment Cruise Productions, and Clarke Public Relations. A signature program of the African American Cultural Center at the newly relaunched August Wilson Center, the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival will continue to be helmed by Janis Burley Wilson, the new president & CEO of the AACC, who created and directed the jazz fest since its founding in 2011.
The Pittsburgh Jazz Festival line up includes: Marcus Miller, Gregory Porter, Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Garrett, Polly Gibbons, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, Emmet Cohen with special guest, Tootie Heath, Donny McCaslin, Pedrito Martinez, Miguel Zenon, Jose Alberto, Ambrose Akinmusire, Orrin Evans, Noel Quintana, DJ Selecta, the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble and more.
As a multi-instrumentalist, Marcus is highly proficient as a keyboardist, clarinetist/bass clarinetist and, primarily, as a world-renowned electric bassist, topping critics' and readers' polls for three decades. His résumé as an A-list player brims with over 500 recording credits as a sideman on albums across the spectrum of musical styles: rock (Donald Fagen and Eric Clapton), Jazz (George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Sample, Wayne Shorter and Grover Washington, Jr.), pop (Roberta Flack, Paul Simon and Mariah Carey), R&B (Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan), hip hop (Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg), blues (Z.Z. Hill), new wave (Billy Idol), smooth jazz (Al Jarreau and Dave Koz) and opera (collaborations with tenor Kenn Hicks and soprano Kathleen Battle). As a film music pro, Miller rose from writing the go-go party classic "Da Butt" for Spike Lee's "School Daze" to becoming the go-to composer for 20+ films (from the documentary "1 Love" to the animated children's fable "The Trumpet and The Swan" to the Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry classic "Boomerang"). As a producer, writer and player, he was the last primary collaborator of jazz legend Miles Davis, contributing the composition and album "Tutu" to the canon of contemporary jazz music. The breadth of his collaborative talents were best showcased in his work with the late, great soul man Luther Vandross, contributing to well over half of his albums as a producer, composer and/or player on a string of hits capped by "Power of Love/Love Power" for which Marcus won his first Grammy, 1991's R&B Song of the Year.
For Gregory Porter, the influence of Nat King Cole on his life and music runs deep, a through-line that reaches back into some of his earliest childhood memories, and culminates in the release of the two-time GRAMMY-winning vocalist's stunning fifth studio album Nat King Cole & Me, a heartfelt tribute to the legendary singer, pianist, and Capitol recording artist. "He was one of a kind. He left such great music - such beautiful things to listen to that you can't help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool," Porter enthuses. After his role in the Tony-nominated musical It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues - but before rising to international acclaim in his solo career thanks to his mellifluous baritone, poignant originals, and invigorating concerts - Porter dramatized his deep appreciation for Cole in a semi-autobiographical musical, Nat King Cole & Me, which premiered in 2004.
More than any other artist in traditional jazz today, saxophonist/composer/arranger Kenny Garrett and his band are known to entice audiences to want to get up and groove. Be it in Spain where a man from Cameroon leaped up and broke out some African moves then was joined by a young break-dancer, or in Germany where a clearly classically trained ballet dancer was brought to his feet; in Poland where a fan literally jumped from the balcony onto the stage to dance, or at a festival in Barbados where music lovers got on up and grooved in the rain to "Happy People," the spectacle is always the same: the spirit takes over and the movements come naturally. It is this spirit that Garrett has instigated and witnessed from stages around the world that fills Do Your Dance!-the saxophonist's fourth for Mack Avenue Records.
"I look out and see people waiting for the songs that they can party to and express themselves," confirms Garrett, the nine-time winner of DownBeat's Reader's Poll for Alto Saxophonist of the Year. "Do Your Dance! was inspired by audiences moved to rise from their seats and 'lift a foot!' Some are reluctant to participate because they think that others are better than they are. I tell them, 'Do your dance.' That means even if you have to 'stay pocket,' do the Funky Four Corners or the Nae-Nae, don't worry about what the other person is doing. Let it all hang out and 'do your dance!' On the title track we combine the spirit of a `70s-style beach get down with just a touch of hip-hop-ever in search of the link between the two. I had it playing while I was talking to my daughter on Facetime. When it got to the end with that new vibe, she smiled and I thought, 'Uh huh-gotcha!'"
Celebrating 40 years in music, three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning drummer, producer and educator, Terri Lyne Carrington started her professional career at ten years old, being the youngest person to receive a union card in Boston, MA. She was featured as a "kid wonder" in many publications such as People, EBONY, and Modern Drummer magazines, among others. After studying under a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music, Carrington worked as an in-demand musician in New York City, and later moved to Los Angeles, where she was a late night TV drummer for the Arsenio Hall Show and Quincy Jones' VIBE TV show.
Throughout her extensive touring and recording career, she has worked with luminary artists such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Al Jarreau, Stan Getz, David Sanborn, Woody Shaw, Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, John Scofield, Esperanza Spalding, Yellowjackets, and countless others. Carrington is also the first female artist to win a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. In 2005, Carrington returned to her hometown where she was appointed professor at her alma mater, Berklee College of Music. Currently, she holds the position of Zildjian Chair in Performance, Berklee Global Jazz Institute. She is also the Artistic Director for both the Beantown Jazz Festival and Berklee Summer Jazz Workshop, and Co-Artistic Director of The Carr Center, Detroit, MI.
Whether she's belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soulshouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad, Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else. With a voice that is alternately sultry, assertive and roaring, Shemekia's wide-open vision of contemporary blues, roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach. The Chicago Tribune says Copeland delivers "gale force singing and power" with a "unique, gutsy style, vibrant emotional palette and intuitive grasp of the music." NPR Music calls her "fiercely expressive."
Copeland's return to Alligator Records with Outskirts Of Love (she recorded four albums for the label from 1998 through 2006) finds her at her most charismatic, performing roots rock, Americana, and blues with power and authority, nuance and shading. Produced by The Wood Brothers' Oliver Wood, Outskirts Of Love is a musical tour-de-force, with Copeland rocking out on the title track, taking charge in Crossbone Beach, honoring her father, the late Johnny Clyde Copeland with her Afrobeat-infused take on his Devil's Hand, tackling homelessness on Cardboard Box and showing off her country swagger on Drivin' Out Of Nashville. She puts her stamp on songs made famous by Solomon Burke (I Feel A Sin Coming On), Jesse Winchester (Isn't That So).
EMMET COHEN TRIO FEATURING ALBERT "TOOTIE' HEATH
Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen has emerged as one of his generation's pivotal figures in music and the related arts. A recognized prodigy, Cohen began Suzuki method piano instruction at age three, and his playing quickly became a mature melding of musicality, technique, and concept. Downbeat observed that his "nimble touch, measured stride and warm harmonic vocabulary indicate he's above any convoluted technical showmanship." In the same spirit, Cohen himself has noted that playing jazz is "about communicating the deepest level of humanity and individuality; it's essentially about connections," both among musicians and with audiences. Possessing a fluid technique, an innovative tonal palette, and an expansive repertoire, Cohen plays with the command of a seasoned veteran and the passion of an artist fully devoted to his medium.
The younger brother of Percy and Jimmy Heath, Albert "Tootie" Heath has long been a top hard bop-based drummer with an open mind toward more commercial styles of jazz. After moving to New York (1957), he debuted on record with John Coltrane. Albert Heath was with J.J. Johnson's group (1958-1960) and the Jazztet (1960-1961), worked with the trios of Cedar Walton and Bobby Timmons in 1961, and recorded many records as a sideman for Riverside during that era. He lived in Europe in 1965-1968 (working frequently with Kenny Drew, Dexter Gordon, and backing touring Americans), and, after returning to the U.S., he played regularly with Herbie Hancock's sextet (1968-1969) and Yusef Lateef (1970-1974).