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MCG Jazz


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I'm feeling a bit on the outs with the SF Jazz Collective lately, when a sampler from MCG Jazz showed up (sent by my banker of all people). They have a pretty neat approach, which is that master musicians show up for roughly four days and teach young people the craft. Then the musicians record live (generally with other professionals rather than students) and the proceeds from sales of the CDs go to support the program (and the prices are reasonable).

A few of their releases have been mentioned on the board, including releases by Nancy Wilson and Bob Mintzer. There's also a Herbie Mann/Phil Woods CD called Beyond Brooklyn. The two that interest me the most are Brazilian Dreams and Pacquito D'Rivera Live at Manchester Craftmen's Guild.

More information at www.mcgjazz.org

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The Manchester Craftsman's Guild began as an organization to teach sculpture to kids in the Afro-American community here in Pittsburgh. Eventually it expanded to teach working skills to people in a community that saw it's economic base (heavy industry - steel) almost disappear. The founder loves jazz, and they began a concert series that has brought in hundreds of artists. It's been an impressive list, I couldn't begin to list everyone. (The other week it was Marion McPartland and Pat Martino.) They record everything, and started a label a few years ago.

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Indeed the MCG has become an oasis of great music in what has become a desert for jazz performances here in Pittsburgh over the last decade. With the decline of the club scene and Mellon Bank Jazz opting to fund singular performances versus a festival (still controlled by Festival Productions & George Wein, however) the MCG is about the only consistent game in town.

Only wish is that the MCG would focus more on promoting progressive jazz and spotlighting upcoming jazz artists that traditionally reverting to the better-drawing jazz legends. While they have progress in this area, there forum of presenting four (or is it five) shows from Thursday through Sunday certainly limits the types of acts that they can bring in.

While this has proven to be a successful format that has encouraged bigger names to come to Pittsburgh for a four or five show guarantee from a longer run, we certainly miss out on one-off shows from some of the more contemporary groups that might be passing by Pittsburgh and have one night open on their schedule. I appreciate that this type of entertainment is better supported by clubs, which can use a cover charge and bar bill to offset risks, but I am hoping that the MCG will become more active in this area as well. Particularly with the contacts that Marty & Jay Ashby have; there is a lot of jazz that could be brought to town.

Anyways, I am a big supporter and attend almost all of their shows when I am not traveling (not Spyro Gyra this weekend however since I am opting to travel to Baltimore and see Randy Weston instead).


LWayne :P

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