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Marty Ashby

Marty Ashby is a jazz guitarist, GRAMMY®-winning producer, programming consultant, motivational speaker and lifelong advocate of jazz music and its unique place in American culture. In his work as an arts administrator and educator, he remains dedicated to the belief that Jazz celebrates the experience of life. And that if everyone knew how to swing—musicians and non-musicians alike—the world would be a happier, more harmonious place.

He is Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, a program of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG), a multi-disciplined center for arts and learning. Since starting MCG Jazz in 1987, he has produced more than 2,000 concerts, 50 recordings on the MCG Jazz label, and raised $25 million. For three decades, Ashby has been an artistic advisor and producer for jazz concerts and festivals around the country and a consultant to non-profits working to expand the Jazz audience. He has presented his Jazz is Life® professional development workshop to corporate and community audiences nationally and internationally. Additionally, he teaches Business of Jazz courses at the university level. A professional musician since age eight, he continues to play and record.

After graduating from Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Ashby moved to New York City to continue the pursuit of music and capitalize on relationships developed while in Ithaca. In order to survive in the city, he had three jobs and worked as a musician in every conceivable way from tuba gigs to banjo gigs to $50 Jazz club gigs. One of his day jobs was selling subscriptions to the New York Philharmonic. The immense business structure of the orchestra fascinated Ashby and he ended up in a management position very quickly. Intrigued by the gross disparity between the orchestra, opera, ballet, etc., and the jazz industry, the goal became how to present jazz in the same manner as the other performing arts.

After spending the next five years working for a variety of performing arts groups including: The Cleveland Orchestra, Ohio Ballet, National Symphony and finally The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Ashby put the marketing, promotion, consumer database management, presenting, and fundraising techniques he had learned to work on small scale jazz events and festivals.

In 1987, Ashby was introduced to the newly completed Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and immediately knew he had to work there. Leaving the Pittsburgh Symphony and taking a 50% pay cut, Ashby set out to create a Jazz subscription series. Thirty years later, Ashby is now the Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, a program of the MCG. The mission of MCG Jazz is to preserve, present and promote jazz.

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Album Review

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Bernstein Reimagined

Read "Bernstein Reimagined" reviewed by Jack Bowers

This impressive anthology by the superb Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra is not so much Bernstein Reimagined as Bernstein Unleashed. The jazz component in Leonard Bernstein's memorable compositions for symphony orchestra, Broadway shows, films and even liturgical works always lay simmering just below the surface. As Bernstein is said to have confided to Duke Ellington: “Maybe that's really the difference between us. You write symphonic jazz, and I write jazz symphonies." However credible the remark, there is no doubt that the ...

Album Review

Gloria Reuben & Marty Ashby: For All We Know

Read "For All We Know" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The deeply felt farewell on vocalist Gloria Reuben's Perchance To Dream (MCG Jazz, 2015)—a duo take on “Here's to Life," with guitarist Marty Ashby—foreshadowed the arrival of this intimate date. It may have taken five years for this pair to find their way to this work, but it was destined to happen at some point. This is quite simply a meeting that was written in the stars and the trailing suggestions of its predecessor. A testament to ...

Album Review

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: DIVA + The Boys

Read "DIVA + The Boys" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The all-female DIVA Jazz Orchesta has a boy-meets-girls story threaded into its origin, as drummer Stanley Kay served as the impetus behind the group's formation. Therefore, it's only fitting that the ladies have a few gentleman over to join them for some high times in the music every now and then. This eight-song set, recorded live at Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in March of 2017, finds clarinetist Ken Peplowski, dearly departed trumpeter Claudio Roditi, trombonist Jay Ashby, and ...

Album Review

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: DIVA + the Boys

Read "DIVA + the Boys" reviewed by Jack Bowers

After more than twenty-five years as one of the world's most renowned big bands, drummer Sherrie Maricle's superlative all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra invited a quartet of “the boys" onboard to help ensure the ensemble's twelfth album's success. Even though DIVA needs no consorts to affirm its unremitting mastery, it is nonetheless pleasurable to witness these talented women sharing the stage and blowing up a storm with such esteemed guest artists as clarinetist Ken Peplowski, trombonist Jay Ashby and (it hurts ...

Album Review

Gloria Reuben: Perchance To Dream

Read "Perchance To Dream" reviewed by Mike Perciaccante

Based on her performance (back in the day) on NBC's ER, when she sang Green Day's “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)," it was obvious that Gloria Reuben had the chops. Reuben's character Jeanie Boulet, sang a stunning version of the song, which, don't let the title fool you, is actually a plaintive ballad, as a farewell to a young boy who had died in her care. On her new light jazz CD Perchance To Dream (MCG Jazz, ...

Album Review

Joe Negri: Guitars For Christmas

Read "Guitars For Christmas" reviewed by Ken Hohman

Mention the name of guitarist Joe Negri to any Pittsburgh native and you'll invariably be greeted with a smile. Negri is a Pittsburgh jazz legend who has gigged with countless performers and symphonies over the decades. He's also loved by millions of baby boomers through his role as “Handyman Negri" on the renowned PBS TV series Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. As endearingly modest as he is brilliant, Negri has unwittingly created one of the finest modern Christmas recordings I've ever heard ...

Album Review

Herbie Mann & Phil Woods: Beyond Brooklyn

Read "Beyond Brooklyn" reviewed by George Kanzler

Herbie Mann and Phil Woods met when they were two barely adult beboppers jamming together at a joint called Tony's Bar on Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn in 1951. A couple years later, Woods would play on Mann's Yardbird Suite LP. They finally shared the front line on an album again with this CD, the last Mann made before he died on July 2, 2003.Beyond Brooklyn is a fine envoi to Mann's career, featuring the flutist in many of ...

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Music Industry

Jazz Planners Find Success in Change

Jazz Planners Find Success in Change

Source: Michael Ricci

Marty Ashby is guiding MCG Jazz the way smart jazz club owners run their places. Give people good material, and they show up. There. It's easy. His work and that of Janis Burley Wilson at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust show that route to success is not hard to understand. Ashby, this year, gave the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild program some twists in its 22-year-old program. The executive producer of MCG Jazz provided some music that was a little edgy for some ...



Marty Ashby Labeled Jazz Genius

Marty Ashby Labeled Jazz Genius

Source: All About Jazz

Marty Ashby's career constantly twists and turns, but he never gets lost. “Like music, your work doesn't always go from A to B," says the executive producer at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in the North Side. “It doesn't always go in a straight line." Straight lines seem nonexistent in the work of this jazz musician and organizer who has, in 22 years, established the Craftsmen's Guild as the dominant jazz-presenting force in Pittsburgh and led to the capture of four ...





Jimmy Forrest
saxophone, tenor
Cliff Lyons
saxophone, alto

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