HALL OF FAME ENTERTAINER–This March 26, 2013 photo shows Chaka Kahn attending her birthday party in New York. Khan will be inducted into the Apollo Theater’s hall of fame. The theater recently announced that Patti LaBelle and Mary J. Blige will perform in Khan’s honor at its June 10 New York gala. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, file)
by Genea L. Webb
For New Pittsburgh Courier
More than 240 of the hottest Jazz artists on the planet will showcase their immeasurable talent at this year’s Pittsburgh JazzLive Festival from June 7 through 9.
“The Pittsburgh JazzLive Festival has expanded greatly in the past two years,” said Janis Burley Wilson, vice president and director of Jazz programs for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which is presenting the event. “Our headlining artists are world renown in classical jazz, R& B, blues and avant garde jazz.”
It will consist of performances on outdoor stages throughout Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. Held in conjunction with the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, the Jazz festival brings more than 20,000 people from around the country.
Chaka Khan, the Queen of Funk-Soul will round out the festival festivities with what is sure to be an amazing performance.
The diminutive powerhouse singer is a 10-time Grammy Award winner who gained fame in the 1970’s as the lead singer of the funk group, Rufus and gained success with such hits as “Tell Me Something Good,” “Ain’t Nobody,” the remake of Prince’s “I Feel For You,” “I’m Every Woman,” and “Through the Fire.”
Born Yvette Marie Stevens in Chicago, Chaka Khan has received a BET Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 and been nominated for four American Music Awards.
Two-time Grammy winner and composer and producer of 10 critically acclaimed and genre-bending albums, Marcus Miller is glad to be performing at the JazzLive International Festival and to be returning to the Golden Triangle.
“I was there five or six years ago. I love Pittsburgh. I love drinking the water. There must be something in the water there because the city has produced such talent as George Benson, Art Blakey,” said Miller via Skype. “I recorded an album about a year and a half ago called ‘Renaissance’ with Sean Jones, another Pittsburgher, and we’ll be performing some of the music from that at the Jazz festival.”
Miller has more than 500 recording credits as a sideman on various albums across the musical spectrum and include collaborations with Frank Sinatra, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, Miles Davis, Joe Sample and Grover Washington Jr. He is well known in the film world as well. He rose from writing the go-go party classic “Da Butt” for Spike Lee’s “School Daze” to becoming the composer of more than 20 films including “Boomerang.”
In addition to playing with Miller, Pittsburgh’s own Sean Jones and the Sean Jones Quartet will be performing his own new music along with Roger Humphries at the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival this year.
“I’m very excited and humbled to be a part of this again and I’m excited to be working with Roger Humphries. I was commissioned to write a five movement suite for the show,” Jones said.
Other festival performers will include Rudresh Mahanthappa, Pat Martino, Gregory Porter, Allison Miller, Ralph Peterson, Sarah Elizabeth Charles and Eddie Palmieri.
Abstract expression artist Al Bright will create paintings before audiences to live jazz music at the 709 Gallery, 709 Penn Avenue Downtown from May 31 to June 1. An opening reception will be held on May 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“This year’s festival will have a new look but still have tradition,” explained Pittsburgh Cultural Trust President and CEO J. Kevin McMahon. “We’re proud to undertake this new venture. This is some of the most impressive programming the cultural trust puts on.”
Pre festival musical events will take place on June 1 from 2 -4 p.m. at various Macy’s store locations in the Pittsburgh area.
The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra Junior Jam Session will be held at South Hills Village; Ross Park Mall will host Max Leake featuring Maureen Budway; Thomas Wendt will be performing at the Mall at Robinson while the Dennis Garner Band will be performing at Monroeville Mall.
The Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival official kickoff will be held on June 6 Downtown where attendees will be able to enjoy shopping sales,live entertainment featuring Cecil Brooks III, Dwayne Dolphin and David Budway and giveaways.
The Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival is sponsored by RK Mellon, Megabus, UPMC, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Macy’s.
“We’re really happy and delighted to sponsor this and to continue our partnership with the Cultural Trust,” said High Mark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Evan Frazier. “We believe in the health and wellness of the community and this festival adds to the enrichment of families and communities.”
For more information on the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, visit www.pittsburghjazzlive.com