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Clip: Jazz Be Jazz Festival

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  • Carl Abraham Zimring
    http://www.pghcitypaper.com/music2.html Jazz Be Jazz Put Your Foot in the Water writer: JUSTIN HOPPER When local artist and musician Christiane D. heard about
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2003

      Jazz Be Jazz
      Put Your Foot in the Water

      writer: JUSTIN HOPPER

      When local artist and musician Christiane D. heard about plans for a new
      North Side amphitheater -- and the potential for a large-scale, nationally
      drawing rock festival to be held at it -- she cringed.

      "I read about that new venue going up on the North Side," says Christiane,
      "and that they were talking about having a rock festival. We don't need a
      rock festival -- that's not going to put us on the map. We have to show
      that we're part of the world."

      Christiane D. is one of many people and groups around the city who believe
      that one way to help correct Pittsburgh's undeservedly low status on the
      national music-scene radar is to put together an annual music festival in
      the city. But while opinions differ vastly on what could happen -- a South
      by Southwest-style conference? A weekend-long concert? An underground
      festival like All Tomorrow's Parties? -- Christiane decided to take the
      first step and organize a series of exploratory events, dubbed "Mini M's,"
      to test the waters.

      "I've taken two trips to the Philly Fringe Festival," says Christiane.
      "I've been to North by Northeast in Toronto. I've discussed a festival at a
      couple meetings with [Music Awareness Pittsburgh]. I just want to do it
      now, because I'm impatient. And the only way to do it now is on a small

      Last year, Christiane helped organize the Funky Monkey, a weekend-long
      festival at the Quiet Storm Coffeehouse featuring local bands that all came
      under a very broad interpretation of "funk." This weekend, the second Mini
      M takes a similar approach to jazz.

      While Pittsburgh's contemporary jazz scene is often fragmented between the
      avant-garde and the more traditional, this weekend's Jazz Be Jazz festival
      will bring together a variety of definitions of jazz. More traditional jazz
      musicians such as singer (and highly regarded visual artist) Betty Douglas
      and Brazilian Pittsburgh Opera singer Lilly Abreu, who will be performing
      bossa nova, will share a bill with avant-jazz groups such as Matula
      Oblongata, a trio that performs original work as well as music by the likes
      of John Lurie. Meanwhile, the event's opening party will showcase another
      modern take on jazz with deejays spinning modern dance-floor jazz, acid
      jazz and classic jazz-funk at Club Havana in Shadyside.

      To Christiane D. and her coworkers on the Mini M project -- volunteers such
      as Matt Calvetti and Bruce Harris of local funk group Ouve and Ashwin Tumne
      of promotions team Element Five -- it's that variety that will measure the
      Mini M's success.

      "We specifically made this, not necessarily underground," says Calvetti,
      "but people outside the upper echelon -- those Al Dowes, Etta Coxes. [The
      Mini-M performers] are great musicians, but who you might not see out all
      the time."

      To Christiane D., the other vital goal of the Mini M's is to highlight
      local music in the same kind of spotlight that a festival would give to
      national acts.

      "I feel like we need to build up Pittsburgh's self-esteem by showing what
      we already have," says Christiane, "instead of suckering up to the things
      from outside -- as if the talent here isn't as good. It's great to shower
      outsiders with respect, but what about the talent that's here? And then you
      branch out from that. But if we don't start here, we're going to bypass the
      artists that are here."

      The Jazz Be Jazz opening party, with deejays Edgar Umm, Soy Sos and Jwan
      Allen, takes place at 10 p.m. Thu., May 1, at Club Havana, Shadyside.

      Jazz Be Jazz, featuring Eugene Stoval, DeepField South, Carolyn Pertete,
      Phat Man Dee, Colter Harper, Intuitive Research Project, (Friday); and
      Betty Douglas, Lilly Abreu, Jazz Inc., Lee Robinson and Unspunt Orkestra,
      and Matula Oblongata, (Saturday), takes place at 8 p.m. Fri., May 2, and
      Sat., May 3, at the Quiet Storm Coffeehouse, Friendship. 412-661-9355.
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