All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

10

Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017
Pittsburgh, PA
June 16-18, 2017

The complicated logistics and sizable costs associated with free jazz festivals have made them somewhat rarified these days. By its all-encompassing scope and scale, the Detroit Jazz Festival has served as a model for many decades now. But if you want something a bit earthier and intimate, there's really no equal for the atmosphere that envelops the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival. Now in its seventh year, this budding diamond in the rough gets its energy from the community that serves as its site location. Set on three stages along Penn Avenue, known as the city's cultural district, this festival maintains an intimate vibe despite the large crowds that tend to build over the course of each day. It is not unlikely to find artists and fans chatting on the streets before and after the shows and unlike Detroit, the performances do not overlap so that it is quite easy to rotate among the stages so that one never misses a downbeat.

This year's festivities got underway early Friday evening with a VIP party prior to a performance at the August Wilson Center featuring the David Sanborn Electric Band. This top-rate venue features an intimate 472-seat auditorium which presented Sanborn with a capable quintet that most notably featured drummer Billy Kilson. Stevie Wonder's "Another Star" was sagacious opening gambit that introduced the synergy that Sanborn has developed with this ensemble. One of the iconic numbers from the 1986 set Double Vision led by Sanborn and Bob James, "Maputo" presented a blistering keyboard solo from the ubiquitous David Garfield. On "Spanish Joint," the saxophonist traded licks with guitarist Nicky Moroch. "Run for Cover" allowed bassist Andre Berry to strut his stuff as he literally worked his way up and down the aisles for a pyrotechnic display of chops. All in all, Sanborn's set was a portentous emblem of what was in store the remainder of the weekend.

Heading outdoors for the remainder of the weekend, Saturday's temperature heated up literally and figuratively with a set by Odean Pope and his sax choir. First formed some forty years ago, this ensemble features a rhythm section and five saxophones, making the most of Pope's colorful scoring. One of the set highlights, the original "Coltrane's Time" was distinguished by a repeating riff that launched the solo sections. Pope's own statement was marked by his skillful use of circular breathing and Louis Taylor's alto sound, which was all fire and brimstone. Based on "Giant Steps," "Heavenly" furthered the avant-garde inclinations with its up tempo swing, only to be balanced by a gorgeous ballad dedicated to Pope's late wife which was entitled "Sis."

Since winning the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute's International Jazz Competition, vocalist Jazzmeia Horn has been turning heads with a stylistic sound that combines the eccentricities of Betty Carter with the range and depth of the great Cassandra Wilson. When she let loose with her scat improvisations on Carter's "Tight" however, there was no doubt that her muse is uniquely her own. With spot-on intonation and high register flourishes, Horn saluted Juneteenth with an earthy rendition of "The African National Anthem." Even more telling was the way she delivered un update to Bobby Timmons' "Moanin,'" made all the more remarkable by the buoyant underpinning of bassist Barry Stephenson and the closely responsive drumming of the up-and-coming Jerome Jennings.

A Pittsburgh favorite who returned to the festival for the first time in several years, trumpeter Sean Jones was in peak form presenting his quartet with piano great Orrin Evans, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr. An upbeat "Prof" kicked things into gear and was one of many pieces performed that would come from Jones' new album Live from Jazz at the Bistro. "Lost, Then Found" settled into a mellow groove where Jones' mellifluous lines meshed beautifully with the intuitive comping of Evans on piano. "Nomo" and "The Ungentrified Blues" provided more combustible trumpet displays where Jones truly told a story, complete with all the peaks and valleys. At one point, Jones quoted a Lee Morgan riff ripped from an Art Blakey recording where the drummer goaded the youngster to "get mad!"

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Alan Broadbent Trio at the Deer Head Inn Live Reviews
Alan Broadbent Trio at the Deer Head Inn
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 15, 2018
Read Flow Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Flow Festival 2018
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 14, 2018
Read Shipp / Lowe / Baker / Ray at Le Poisson Rouge Live Reviews
Shipp / Lowe / Baker / Ray at Le Poisson Rouge
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 13, 2018
Read 3rd Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition Live Reviews
3rd Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 9, 2018
Read Live From Brussels: Turkish Psychedelic Nite, Charlemagne Palestine & Anna Von Hausswolff Live Reviews
Live From Brussels: Turkish Psychedelic Nite, Charlemagne...
by Martin Longley
Published: August 9, 2018
Read Papanosh in a Finnish Forest Live Reviews
Papanosh in a Finnish Forest
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 8, 2018
Read "Radio Underground at The Last Stop Sports Bar" Live Reviews Radio Underground at The Last Stop Sports Bar
by Doug Collette
Published: May 12, 2018
Read "Bob DeVos Quartet At Trumpets Jazz Club" Live Reviews Bob DeVos Quartet At Trumpets Jazz Club
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 8, 2018
Read "Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Trish Clowes at Mermaid Arts Centre" Live Reviews Trish Clowes at Mermaid Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Marquis Hill Blacktet at Scullers Jazz Club" Live Reviews Marquis Hill Blacktet at Scullers Jazz Club
by Nat Seelen
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "GoGo Penguin at Out To Lunch" Live Reviews GoGo Penguin at Out To Lunch
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 25, 2018