Cultural District Downtown

June 20 – 22
Various times

Jazz is a rich cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s cultural legacy and thriving contemporary scene, with many pioneering figures calling the city home, from composer Billy Strayhorn and drummers Art Blakey and Roger Humphries, to current star trumpeter Sean Jones.

From June 20th through June 22nd, the 4th annual Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival showcases the many sounds and dimensions of the genre, with three packed days featuring 47 performances and nearly 200 local, national and international artists. Celebrating the distinctly made-in-America musical tradition as well as some of today’s emerging luminaries, JazzLive features a variety of outdoor and indoor events, including the JazzLive Crawl, Night Market, Meet the Composer programs, jam sessions and VIP receptions.

New this year for JazzLive is the Jam on Ninth event, a pop-up record store and a partnership with the Rex Theater. Jam on Ninth features Pittsburgh’s own DJ Nate da Phat Barber, along with Brooklyn, NY-based instrumental fusion band Snarky Puppy, which is led by Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer and producer Michael League.

Don’t miss a tribute to the legendary Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer and bandleader, and Pittsburgh native, Art Blakey (1919 – 1990), on June 21st, featuring the Messenger Legacy band. Led by American jazz drummer and bandleader Ralph Peterson, the prolific group also features Reggie Workman (bass), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Brian Lynch (trumpet), Billy Pierce (tenor) and pianist Donald Brown (piano).

Expected to attract more than 20,000 attendees from around the country, JazzLive also boasts sets by funk legends Fred Wesley and Dwayne Dolphin, guitar and voice virtuoso Raul Midon, soulful singer Gregory Porter and jazz masters such as Joe Locke, Sean Jones and Roger Humphries.

On June 21st and 9 p.m, JazzLive teams up with Grey Area Production to bring Big Sam’s Funky Nation to the South Side-based Rex Theater.
Led by trombone dynamo, Big Sam Williams, formerly of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the talented ensemble blends funk, rock, improv and jazz  sensibilities within their trademark horn-heavy sound. A favorite on the festival circuit, Big Sam’s Funky Nation has appeared at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage, Telluride Blues & Brews, Doheny Blues Festival, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo and many more.

On June 22nd, JazzLive welcomes pre-eminent jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves. The multiple Grammy-winner has recorded and performed extensively with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, and has also recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and performed with the Berlin Philharmonic. The first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Reeves is the first singer to ever perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Featured in George Clooney’s six-time Academy Award nominated 2005 film, Good Night, and Good Luck, Reeves performed every song on the Grammy-winning soundtrack, which was released on Concord Jazz.

Looking for your fave jazz artist on wax? Also new is Trust Vinyl, a three day pop-up record store that will set up shop at 820 Liberty Avenue, featuring local record vendors and independent dealers from around the US.

Ready to move? Teaming up with Hola Pittsburgh, JazzLive will present a rare performance by the reigning kings of salsa, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. Based in San Juan and founded in 1962 by Rafael Ithier, El Gran Combo recently celebrated their 50th anniversary as Puerto Rico’s most successful musical group.

An additional highlight to JazzLive is Showcase Noir, an outdoor marketplace featuring wares created by some of the region’s leading African-American artists, including potters, painters, jewelry designers and sculptors. Free and open to the public, Showcase Noir will set up shop on June 21st and 22nd, from noon to 8 p.m., at the corner of Penn Avenue and 8th Street.

Can’t make it into the Cultural District for the festival? Check out the new live performance streams of the select concerts.

View a complete schedule of JazzLive events.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...