The 42nd Annual Pitt Jazz Seminar Concert did not let any of the attendees down as folks got a more up close and personal view of the individual artists in various musical settings.
Performing in a small trio, quartet, quintet and the entire nine member ensemble the audience this year got more extended solos as in past years. Harold Young of the Jazz Workshop commented, “I really enjoyed the artists stretching out. Of course I always enjoy the concert but this year was special.”
Many of the folks in attendance echoed the same opinion. There were several members of the Pittsburgh Jazz Fan Meetup Group in attendance who loved the solo work of Randy Brecker and Lew Soloff. There was also a great deal of praise for the solos of the tight rhythm section consisting of George Cables, Abraham Laboriel and Winard Harper. Laboriel, who has been a part of the seminars and concerts for quite a few times, is always a crowd favorite. Sitting next to George Heid III and Brett Williams of the COL Jazz Band, I got very positive feedback on the drumming of Harper and Cables from our two young Jazz lions.
Williams stated he loved Cables “phrasing.” It was great observing the younger musicians checking out the older musicians. Guitarist Yotam Silberstein was outstanding as well with his styling’s showing the influence of Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green.
Close your eyes and you could hear one of the classic Blue Note recordings. The “General of Jazz,” Nathan Davis, PhD, thrilled the audience with his soprano and tenor saxophone work. Other memorable performances were from Jazz Messenger alumni Bobby Watson and Javon Jackson on alto and tenor saxophone. Standout performances were on “Body and Soul,” “All Blues” and “A Night in Tunisia.” It was a superb 13 tune set.
After intermission Billy Taylor, PhD, and Quincy Jones were inducted into the International Academy of Jazz Hall of Fame. The duties were carried out by Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Robert Hill, PhD. He went through both inductees well documented achievements. Soloff received the Jazz Seminar Committee Award from N. John Cooper, PhD, and Laboriel got the University of Pittsburgh Lifetime Achievement award from Patricia E. Beeson, PhD. Both artists were honored for their great work over the years.
The Hon. Bill Robinson did his usual great job as Master of Ceremonies, guiding us along with Dr. Davis. Robinson also mentioned the importance of keeping the Jazz legacy alive and encouraging all in attendance to check out the University of Pittsburgh Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives. Once again the concert was a sell out and the Advisory Board and the Concert committee are to be congratulated for a job well done.