For the past 43 years the University of Pittsburgh and its staff and supporters, under the leadership of Nathan Davis, has brought the world’s greatest jazz musicians to Pittsburgh as both teachers and performers. This year for the first time in its history, the jazz seminar and concert series not only welcomed a jazz vocalist to the concert stage, but it was the first time it wasn’t headed by Davis.
Davis, the founder, retired earlier this year and has been replaced by Gerri Allen.
Under his leadership the Annual University of Pittsburgh Jazz Concert & Seminar series at the Carnegie Music Hall grew into one of the most anticipated assemblies of musical talent in the world of jazz.
Welcoming the viewing audience to the hall was County Councilman the Hon. William Robinson, (former Pennsylvania state representative). The musical evening at the great hall, which was filled to capacity, resonated with rhythmic sounds from such greats as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and many others, even spoken word by Langston Hughes.
Special attention was given to the origins of jazz history and its roots in American history during the performances by the All-Stars. Several times during the selections, the audience gave rousing standing ovations to the legends of jazz as each of the artists rendered solos.
During the sessions of sharp, progressive and melodic songs, time and space held no domain in the great hall. This paradox of reality appeared to have no place as Marcus Belgrave performed a tune written by the late great Louis Armstrong.
In the voice of Carmen Lundy, the first vocalist to appear with the legends in 43 years at the hall, one could feel the breeze of the tropics in her tonal inflections.
Guitarist Russell Malone evoked so much spirit in his licks of the strings you could not help but move your head in rhythm. Ravi Coltrane turned up the heat as he spit fire from his tenor saxophone.
Two-time Grammy Award winner, Saxophonist Ernie Watts, received the Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented to him by Ken Service, vice Chancellor for Communications, University of Pittsburgh.
Pianist Geri Allen, was mesmerizing on the keys and as the new head of the Pitt Department of Music’s program in jazz studies. Randy Brecker, (trumpet) Vincent Chandler, (trombone) Kenny Davis, (bass) Kassa Overall, (drums) native Pittsburgher, Jeff “Tain” Watts, (drums) and another first for the Annual Jazz Concert and Seminar, Brinae Ali, (tap and percussion) rounded off an amazing night of celestial magic in music and dance.
The audience, the University and the musicians all gave tribute to the great Nathan Davis, who had made it all possible, 43 years ago.
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