August Wilson African American Cultural Center Announces Additional Artists For 11th Annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival September 17-19, 2021
Featuring Chaka Khan, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Christian McBride, Branford Marsalis, Patrice Rushen, Gregory Porter, Jazzmeia Horn, and more
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) announced today additions to the line-up, Con Alma Jam Sessions, Chaka Khan after party, and more for the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF) presented by Citizens Bank. Taking place live, in-person, from September 17-19, 2021, the 11th annual festival includes newly announced jazz bassist and bandleader Christian McBride’s New Jawn; award-winning jazz pianist and composer Patrice Rushen & Friends; and three-time Grammy-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis; who join the previously announced ten-time Grammy Award winner Chaka Khan; pre-eminent jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves; Grammy-winning instrumentalist, composer, and producer Marcus Miller, and many others. In partnership with Pittsburgh’s famed restaurant and jazz bar Con Alma (613 Penn Avenue), located in the Cultural District, AWAACC will offer an array of jam sessions throughout the weekend beginning at 10 p.m. until close as well as at host hotels throughout the city.
To ensure the health and safety of its audience, artists, and staff, the PIJF is a fully ticketed event. Tickets to Chaka Khan at the Benedum Center and performances at Highmark Stadium are available now at pittsburghjazzfest.org. AWAACC will also host the “Through the Fire” after party for Chaka Khan ticket holders, featuring live performances and other special offers at the Center on Friday, September 17 following the performance.
In addition to Chaka Khan; Dianne Reeves; Marcus Miller; Christian McBride’s New Jawn; Branford Marsalis; and Patrice Rushen & Friends, the updated festival line-up includes Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter; vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition; two-time Edison Award-winning, trumpeter Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah; jazz and R&B duo The Baylor Project; Pittsburgh native drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, who has performed alongside Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter and Alice Coltrane; Lakecia Benjamin, chosen as the “2020 Up and Coming Artist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association; The Kenny Garrett Quintet, whose leader, saxophonist and composer Garrett, was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and, most notably, a member of Miles Davis’s band.
In partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, on Saturday, September 18 at 11 a.m. EST, the Center will present the world premiere of Jazz Time! A Musical for Children and Families on YouTube. Created and performed by local Pittsburgh talent, Jazz Time! introduces children to jazz music, tempo, melody and improvisation through an engaging story by Anqwenique Kinsel with music and lyrics by Douglas Levine, and will be available for viewing throughout the festival.
In addition to late night jam sessions at Con Alma, various PIJF “Host Hotels” will offer jazz performances throughout the weekend. To learn more about the host hotels and limited available discounted rates, please visit https://pittsburghjazzfest.org/travel/.
The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF) is curated by Janis Burley Wilson, AWAACC President & CEO, who created the festival in 2011 and has built it into its a signature program of the Center. For additional details and the complete festival lineup, please visit pittsburghjazzfest.org. The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival extends the non-profit AWAACC’s mission to celebrate Black culture and the African diaspora and highlights the Center as a leader in presenting programming that reflects the diversity of Pittsburgh and the nation. To learn more about the Center and its year-round activities, please visit https://aacc-awc.org/.
AWAACC, Highmark Stadium, and the Benedum Center are committed to the utmost safety of its patrons, artists, and staff, and there will be safety measures in place following federal, state, and local guidelines. Ticket buyers will receive a communication including all safety details closer to the event to ensure that all attendees have an enjoyable and healthy experience throughout the festival.
Tickets for all performances can be purchased at pittsburghjazzfest.org.
Tickets for Chaka Khan at the Benedum Center start at $55. One-day Jazz Fest passes for Saturday or Sunday are available starting at $40, and two-day Jazz Fest passes are available starting at $75 for performances taking place at Highmark Stadium. Jam sessions at Con Alma do not require tickets
Student one-day passes for $25 and two-day passes for $40 will be available for purchase in-person at the venue, as well as $10 tickets for children (ages 4-12) and free Lap Passes for children under 3. These tickets must be purchased in-person at the Highmark Stadium box office.
The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival would like to thank its sponsors, including Citizens Bank, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, UPMC, UPMC Health Plan, UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion, and Flyspace Productions. Partners include JazzCorner, The Westin Convention Center Hotel, the Pittsburgh International Airport, Drury Hotel, Downbeat Magazine, JazzTimes Magazine, and others.
Chaka Khan is a ten-time Grammy Award winner and has the rare ability to sing in a number of musical genres, including R&B, pop, rock, gospel, country, world music, and classical. Khan has released 22 albums and racked up ten number one songs on the Billboard charts, seven RIAA-certified gold singles and ten RIAA-certified gold and platinum albums. In addition, Khan recently made history once again, as she was named Grand Marshal of the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade, making her not only the first African American Grand Marshal in the traditional New Year’s Day celebration’s 130-year history, but the first Grand Marshal to perform during the parade.
The Baylor Project
Featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor, The Baylor Project’s collaboration is steeped in the heart and soul of Jazz. As the children of pastors, The Baylors’ musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz to make its mark. Their debut CD The Journey, released on their own label, Be A Light, topped the Billboard Jazz Chart at number eight and a year later garnered two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Saxophonist/bandleader Lakecia Benjamin’s electric stage presence and sax work has shared stages with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Macy Gray, and many others. Currently, Benjamin is a featured musician for Gregory Porter as well as a featured musician and arranger for comedy star Craig Robinson & the Nasty Delicious. Benjamin has also had the honor of performing at the White House at President Obama’s inaugural ball. She has performed on four continents and her extensive recording credits include saxophone and arrangements for Santigold, Maurice Brown, the Clark Terry Big Band, Krystle Warren, and Talib Kweli, among others.
The Kenny Garrett Quintet
Kenny Garrett is an American post-bop jazz saxophonist and flautist who gained recognition in his youth as a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and of Miles Davis's band. In 1984, he recorded his first album as a bandleader, Introducing Kenny Garrett. From there, his career has included 11 albums as a leader and numerous Grammy nominations. During his career, in addition to Ellington and Davis, Garrett has played with many jazz greats such as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Brian Blade, Bobby Hutcherson, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones, and Mulgrew Miller.
Branford Marsalis is an American saxophonist, composer, and band leader known for his lifelong career as a jazz musician and leader of The Branford Marsalis Quartet, formed in 1986. In its three-plus decades of existence, the Quartet has established a rare breadth of stylistic range as demonstrated on the band’s latest release: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul. Branford’s work on Broadway has garnered a Drama Desk Award and Tony nominations for the acclaimed revivals of Children of a Lesser God, Fences, and A Raisin in the Sun. His screen credits include original music composed for: Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks starring Oprah Winfrey, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman.
Christian McBride’s New Jawn
Christian McBride is a Philadelphia-born bassist and bandleader with over 300 recordings as a sideman and 11 critically acclaimed albums as a leader. One of the most influential and ubiquitous bassists of his generation, McBride has worked with artists such as James Brown, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, and Wynton Marsalis to Sting, The Roots, Bruce Hornsby, and Paul McCartney. With New Jawn, McBride takes “Jawn,” a Philadelphian catchall similar to “joint,” and brings a sparky quartet featuring himself, the saxophonist Marcus Strickland, the trumpeter Josh Evans, and the drummer Nasheet Waits.
For nearly four decades, bass guitarist Marcus Miller has collaborated with some of pop and jazz’s biggest giants, including Miles Davis, who Miller performed alongside as a band member and later as a writer and producer of three of Davis’s albums. Miller’s collaborations also include working with Luther Vandross, which led to Miller’s first Grammy Award for “R&B Song of the Year.” Throughout the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, Miller released several songs of his own featuring hybrids of smooth R&B, funk, and jazz. Released in 2001, his solo album M2 won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Miller has been selected as a UNESCO Artist for Peace and became spokesperson for the organization's Slave Route Project.
Gregory Porter is an American singer, songwriter, and actor. His debut album Water was nominated for “Best Jazz Vocal album” at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. His second album Be Good, which contains many of Porter's compositions, garnered critical acclaim for both his distinctive singing and his compositions, such as "Be Good (Lion's Song)," "Real Good Hands," and "On My Way to Harlem." The title track was also nominated for “Best Traditional R&B Performance” at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.
As a result of her breathtaking virtuosity, improvisational prowess, and unique jazz and R&B stylings, Reeves received the Grammy for “Best Jazz Vocal Performance” for three consecutive recordings – a Grammy first in any vocal category. Featured in George Clooney’s Academy Award nominated Good Night, and Good Luck, Reeves won the “Best Jazz Vocal” Grammy for the film’s soundtrack. She has recorded and performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. She has also recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and was a featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Reeves was the first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first vocalist to ever perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Patrice Rushen & Friends
Patrice Rushen is a four-time Grammy-nominee, recognized as one of the world’s top jazz pianists. Originally finding success in the 70s and 80s, Rushen is the musician and composer responsible for the hit song, “Forget Me Nots,” which exemplifies her signature fusion of jazz, pop, and R&B. She has been the first female musical director for many of the entertainment industry’s top award shows, which include the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the NAACP Image Awards and HBO’s “Comic Relief V.” Rushen also spends time working with the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, NARAS’s “Grammy in The Schools” program, and other organizations dedicated to establishing music education and mentorship programs for underprivileged youth.
Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah
Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah is an American trumpeter, composer, and bandleader. He is a two-time Edison Award recipient and winner of the 2016 JazzFM Innovator of the year Award and has been nominated for five Grammy Awards. Since 2002, he has released twelve critically acclaimed studio recordings, three live albums, and one greatest hits collection. Since 2006, Christian has worked with a number of notable artists, including Prince, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, McCoy Tyner, Marcus Miller, Eddie Palmieri, rappers Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), Talib Kweli, and Vic Mensa, as well as heralded poet and musician Saul Williams.
Jeff “Tain” Watts Suite Pittsburgh
Jeff “Tain” Watts spent his formative years with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and his compositional skills now command equal attention, earning Watts a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017. In the film and television industry, Watts has appeared as both a musician on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and as an actor as Rhythm Jones in Spike Lee’s Mo Better Blues. Watts joined Kenny Garrett’s band after returning to New York in 1995 and continued to record and tour with Branford Marsalis, as well as Danilo Perez, Michael Brecker, Betty Carter, Kenny Kirkland, Courtney Pine, Geri Allen, Alice Coltrane, Greg Osby, McCoy Tyner, Steve Coleman, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Harry Connick Jr., and Ravi Coltrane. Watts was a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow in the field of music Composition.
ABOUT AUGUST WILSON AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural organization located in Pittsburgh’s cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119,000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today.