Clip: 20 Years of Jazz at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
Guild trumpets its 20th year of jazz
Friday, March 03, 2006
By Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Twenty years ago, when the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild began
presenting jazz in what Marty Ashby recalls with a smile as "a
burnt-out industrial park," he and Bill Strickland used to drive
around town picking people up just to get them inside the legendary
North Side venue that since has hosted such masters as Dizzy
Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Wynton Marsalis.
"People were afraid to go there," Ashby says. "But once they got
there, they stayed. And they kept coming back."
Among the longest-running jazz subscription series in the country, MCG
Jazz has produced more than 1,200 concerts and 40 recordings,
including three Grammy Award-winning albums. The organization plans to
mark its anniversary with a yearlong celebration featuring a mix of
masters and contemporary artists expanding the boundaries of jazz,
from Robert Glasper to The Bad Plus, a piano trio known for covering
Black Sabbath and the Pixies.
Nancy Wilson, who won a Grammy for the album she recorded there, will
come out of retirement in March 2007 for a Benedum Center performance
with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. And Dr. Billy Taylor, the
legend whose Jazzmobile Ashby credits with having inspired the MCG,
will return to the stage in late September for a four-night stand. The
anniversary season is dedicated to Taylor, the first performer to
grace the Guild's stage in 1987.
Other sure highlights include a night of Brazilian Jazz with Ivan Lins
and friends, a tribute to New Orleans produced in partnership with
that city's Contemporary Arts Center, and saxophonist Tim Reis
presenting the music of the Rolling Stones in a jazz context. Acts
like the Bad Plus and Reis are just part of the MCG's renewed
commitment to preaching the gospel of jazz beyond the choir.
"The next 20 years is about jazz education," Ashby says, "and building
a strong audience base for the future."
Other anniversary plans include a CD sampler, a photo exhibit
chronicling the history of the Guild, outreach partnerships with
Citiparks, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Jazz
Society and The Andy Warhol Museum, and the development of the MCG
Young Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Education Program.
Ashby credits the MCG's success to its consistency of programming.
"In Pittsburgh," Ashby says, "word of mouth is the best promotion."