PITTSBURGH CULTURAL TRUST ANNOUNCES
BNY MELLON JAZZ PRESENTS JAZZLIVE
FALL PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
EVERY TUESDAY | 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM | BACKSTAGE BAR
Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and BNY Mellon Jazz Presents JazzLive, a year-round FREE live jazz series taking place at the Backstage Bar, Cabaret at Theater Square and Katz Plaza. Open to the public, this popular Pittsburgh Cultural Trust music series showcases some of the region’s finest jazz musicians every Tuesday from 5:00 – 7:00 PM in the heart of the Cultural District. From September to May, all performances take place in the Backstage Bar at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.
“We are excited to announce our JazzLive Tuesdays fall lineup and continue growing our local jazz community through these free performances. BNY Mellon JazzLive showcases our talented community of jazz artists and brings internationally renowned jazz stars to the Backstage Bar and Cabaret Theater,” shared Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Partnership and Community Engagement and Director of Jazz Programs. The fall JazzLive Series began on September 13, 2016 and continues every Tuesday night until December 6, 2016. This season will feature local favorites, as well as flavors from every genre, including Latin and reggae. The fall season will end with a holiday performance by Benny Benack III, a Pittsburgh-born musician who, at the age of the 25, is heralded as one of the most versatile and virtuosic voices of his generation.
The following is a schedule of the fall JazzLive performances:
October 4, 2016 – Michele Bensen
October 11, 2016 – David Throckmorton
October 18, 2016 – Kevin Howard
October 25, 2016 – Stevee Wellons
November 1, 2016 – DK Cypher
November 8, 2016 – Jevon Rushton
November 15, 2016 – Kenny Blake
November 22, 2016 – Dr. Nelson Harrison
November 29, 2016 – Thomas Wendt
December 6, 2016 – Yoko Suzuki
December 13, 2016 – Poogie Bell
December 20, 2016 – Roger Humphries
December 27, 2016 – Benny Benack III: The Holiday Session
For more information and a full schedule of the fall JazzLive performances, call 412-456-6666.
Born in Chicago and raised in Pittsburgh, Michele Bensen began singing professionally at age 16, performing in various Pittsburgh jazz nightclubs, theaters, hotels and restaurants. She studied trumpet for eight years in addition to taking lessons in dance, piano and musical comedy at the renowned Pittsburgh Playhouse. Michele has sung to audiences on the East coast including being the headline act on the Queen Elizabeth II and M/S Westward Cruise Liners. Bensen has been the opening act for Tony Bennett, the Four Freshmen, Lionel Hampton, Diane Schurr and Herbie Mann as well as being the headline act with her own band, “The Bensen Burners.” More than 30 million children hear her as the voice of “Sara Bear” on the children’s “Sticky Bear” software. Her radio voiceover work includes a national commercial for “A Drug Free America”. Her recording of “At Last” featuring the Pittsburgh based Bensen Burner Band was recorded in Hilton Head Island, S.C. The Bensen Burner Band consists of Chris Pangikas on piano, Mike Houlis on bass, Steve Trerrel on drums, Mark Strickland on guitar and Robbie Klein on sax and flute.
David Throckmorton is an American-born drummer. Picked up for the band for jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. He did two years on tour. After two years with Ferguson’s band, Throckmorton returned to Pittsburgh, setting up with bands here. In the late 90s, hit main vehicle was the mostly-improv fusion band Electric Eel Servie; in the 2000s, he focused on Beam, an improve live-band hip-hop hybrid with two bassists, and MC and a DJ. In 2003, Throckmorton started playing with Bill Deasy.
Kevin Howard is a world class keyboardist, writer, composer, producer, and businessman. Born and raised in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Kevin is President and CEO of Key Chapter Entertainment a company which includes full service recording and production. Kevin has received several awards which include three “Best Jazz Performer Awards” from renowned local urban radio station WAMO; the WQED Harry Schwab Excellence in the arts award; Best Jazz Performer Champions Association; Pittsburgh City Paper “top three jazz performers”. Kevin, along with his band served as the Pittsburghʼs WJJJ Smooth Jazz Band for more than two years, performing at various events sponsored by the radio station.
Each of the musicians in this group have spent years playing blues, soul, jazz and rock music around the country. The band members have known each other forever and talked off-and-on about how much fun it would be working together – some day. Finally, the time was right and The Stevee Wellons Band (SWB) came to life. Working together has led the group in some unexpected directions. The Blues Society of Western Pennsylviania gave SWB the honor or representing the region for the 2016 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. That experience provided encouragement and inspiration for the group to work on creating their own mix of blues and soul music. The band is taking their music out on the club and concert circuit in Pennsylvania, and working toward their first full-length CD for release later in 2016.
DK Cypher aka DK Anderson is a veteran Tenor Saxophonist of the Roger Humphries Big Band, RH Factor, and the Boogie Hustlers; and has been hailed as an “unique voice” and “artist to watch” by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. He debuted under the name DK Cypher with the Cypher band at the Pittsburgh JazzLive Festival 2016.
Drummer and percussionist, Wm. Jevon Rushton was born on July 10, 1984 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By the age of six, Jevon Rushton was already mesmerizing those around him with his dexterity as a young drummer. At age 14, Jevon made the decision to cultivate his playing by studying at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) under the tutelage of jazz legend, Roger Humphries.
Along with explosive power, blinding speed and mastery of complex rhythms and time signatures, Jevon brings a rare and unique sense of elegance, chilled composure, and gritty street grooves to his music. His artistic ingenuity expresses itself in his incomparable technique, sweltering sense of swing, and an extraordinary ability to imbue his music with majestic grace and elegant repose.
Jevon has a strong dedication to community and education. He currently spends his time teaching at The Pittsburgh Project on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Wm. Jevon has received many awards; The Judah Project’s Excellence in Leadership, AUBA Community Dedication Award. In 2008, he was honored and inducted into the Westinghouse High School Hall of Fame. He has had the pleasure of performing with artists such as Kirk Franklin, Sean Jones, Dwayne Dolphin, Carolyn Perteete and more.
Internationally acclaimed saxophonist, Kenny Blake, has been performing for over 30 years. Kenny’s smooth saxophone sound has thrilled audiences worldwide yet he keeps his roots and his home here in Pittsburgh. With five CD’s to his credit his wide range of styles cover everything from swing, Latin, ballads, and standards of all kinds. Kenny works with an array of top musicians and can perform as a duo, trio, quartet and can even add a vocalist to provide a one of a kind evening of entertainment.
Dr. Nelson Harrison
Veteran of the Count Basie Orchestra, Nelson Harrison is a musician, composer and avid jazz historian. Nelson Harrison has played with Kenny Clarke, Billy Eckstine, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Jay McShann, Slide Hampton and recorded with Walt Harper and Nathan Davis. He as composed more than 400 original compositions, including movie scores and soundtracks. Dr. Harrison invented the instrument, the Trombetto, has written many articles on Pittsburgh’s jazz history and is currently writing a book. During the month of April, he will be a guest lecturer at the Pittsburgh Cultrual Trust’s National Jazz Appreciation Month events, discussing Pittsburgh’s rich jazz legacy.
Thomas Wendt has been playing the drums professionally since the age of 14. A graduate of The Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, he has studied with master drummers Roger Humphries, Joe Harris, and Kenny Washington. Thomas maintains a busy freelancing schedule with Pittsburgh’s top jazz artists such as Dwayne Dolphin, Joe Negri, Sean Jones, Dave & Maureen Budway, Kenia, the Latin jazz group, Salsamba, and the newly re-formed Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. He has also played with many visiting international artists like David “Fathead” Newman, Donald Byrd, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Freddy Cole, Monty Alexander, Curtis Lundy, Wycliffe Gordon, and Javon Jackson. In 2008, Thomas played on the Emmy Award winning soundtrack for the PBS documentary, “Fly Boys” and in 2010 he recorded an album featuring trombonists Jay Ashby and Steve Davis. Thomas has also recorded albums with Gene Ludwig, Sandy Staley, Salsamba, David and Maureen Budway, and Joe Negri. Recently, he appeared at The 2012 Litchfield Jazz Festival with jazz legend Hubert Laws and in 2013 performed with pianist Alan Broadbent for the Nyack NY Library Concert Series. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty at the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood.
Yoko Suzuki is an alto saxophonist working in Pittsburgh and New York City. She started to take classical piano lessons at the age of six and continued on until graduating from high school. Throughout middle school and high school, she also played the trumpet in school brass bands. Then she finally switched to the alto saxophone upon joining a jazz ensemble at Osaka University in Japan, teaching herself jazz theory, improvisation and repertoire. After working as a musician in Osaka, Japan and New York City, she moved to Pittsburgh in 2006. She received an MA in musicology at Rutgers University in 2005 and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology and women’s studies at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Currently, she teaches jazz history, jazz arranging, and jazz ensemble at the University of Pittsburgh.
Poogie Bell is an outstanding drummer, composer, arranger, and record producer. He has performed and recorded with Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Erykah Badu, David Bowie, John Scofield, David Sanborn, Angelique Kidjo, Joe Sample, Al Jarreau, Vanessa Williams, Stanley Turrentine, Victor Wooten, Randy Crawford, and many more. Poogie co-wrote with Victor Bailey “Touch and Go” the title track of Force MD’s debut album that won the ASCAP Urban Music Writers award for Top 10 Singles in 1998. He now leads the Poogie Bell Band.
Roger Humphries is rated by music critics as one of the most exciting percussionists in the business. He has provided the rhythmic beat for music legends as Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Stanley Turrentine, James Moody, among many others in his brillant career. Roger has performed at Carnegie Music Hall, the Village Gate and the Apollo Theatre in New York. He has also played at the Bohemian Caverns and Shelly Manne’s Manhole in Los Angeles; the Penthouse in Seattle, Wash.; Pep’s Lounge and Showboat, Philadelphia; the Jazz Workshop, Boston; Ronny Scott’s in London and many other great jazz destinations worldwide. He has played with a who’s who of jazz titans, including Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Coleman Hawkins, Grant Green, Billy Taylor, Bill Doggett, Benny Green, Richard ” Groove” Holmes, Lionel Hampton, , Clark Terry, J.J. Johnson, Billy Preston, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Jack McDuff, Gene Harris, George Harris, George Benson, John Faddis, Slide Hampton, Johnny Griffin, Herbie Mann, Randy Brecker, Joe Williams, Milt Jackson and Jimmy Witherspoon. In Pittsburgh, Roger has performed with Sean Jones, Nathan Davis, Frank Cunimondo, Pete Henderson, Dwayne Dolphin and too many others to mention.
After playing with various groups around the country, in 1972, Roger organized his own band, R H Factor, and in 1996, he assembled Roger Humphries’ Big Band.
Benny Benack III
At the age of 25, Pittsburgh-born musician Benny Benack III has been hailed by Nate Chinen of the New York Times as “a charismatic young tempeter who maintains an earnest sideline as a singer.” As a dual-threat, he’s quickly established himself as one of the most versatile and virtuosic voices of his generation. He first made his mark internationally through competitions, winning the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Soloist Competition (2011), National Trumpet Competition for Jazz (2010), International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition (2010), and was most recently a Finalist for the prestigious Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition (2014). Demonstrating his versatility, he also was a Finalist in two vocal competitions, the Gentlemen Sing Competition (2012) and the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Vocalist Competition (2014).
The Backstage Bar at Theater Square is a favorite Cultural District hotspot for drinks, a quick bite to eat, live entertainment, and great company through the evening. It’s the perfect place to meet before a performance, or lounge after a show, or just a great gathering place with friends and colleagues. The Backstage Bar serves an outstanding list of premium wines, spirits, specialty drinks and beers to complement the fun and casual food menu and often features live entertainment with no cover charge.
The Backstage Bar is open before and after shows and for Happy Hour (9–11 pm Tuesdays – Fridays). Often called a hidden treasure, you can enter the bar from behind the fountain in Katz Plaza, or through the main entrance to the Cabaret at Theater Square, under the Theater Square marquee.
For more information and a full schedule of events occurring at the Backstage Bar, visit trustarts.org/visit/facilities/backstage/.
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Cultural Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts. For more information, visit TrustArts.org.