Jazz Seminar and Concert brings together multigenerational artists


The 49th annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 is the vision of Nicole Mitchell, even though she’s only been the director of jazz studies in the Dietrich School’s Department of Music since July.

“The idea is, it’s both multigenerational and is a unique opportunity for musicians that are luminaries in different aspects of jazz to come together — in some cases, for the first time — to collaborate,” Mitchell said.

The performers also “exemplify what all the possibilities are that (Pitt music) students can go into as performers.”


The Pitt Department of Music has a full schedule of concerts this fall. Check out the schedule.


Mitchell, a renowned jazz flutist, will be joined by five other musicians for the annual concert on Nov. 2. The theme for the seminar is “The Edge of Beauty: Performing Creative Resistance,” and Mitchell said, “each musician brings their own kind of manifestation of that.”

Roscoe Mitchell is a recipient of the NEA Jazz Masters award and is one of the original members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a black arts collective that has been innovating contemporary music for over 50 years, said Nicole Mitchell, who also is part of the association.

Jason MoranThe much-younger pianist Jason Moran, a MacArthur Genius Award winner, is doing work to preserve the works of Thelonious Monk and Fats Waller, she said.

Moor Mother, a Philadelphia activist, musician, poet and spoken word artist, brings a very 21st century vibe, Mitchell said.

Rufus Reid and his bassBassist Rufus Reid developed his career as a bebop player. “And then he just kept growing and evolving and changing, and his creativity has been unstoppable,” Mitchell said. “He’s played all different styles of the music and now has, for the last several years, composed for new music ensembles, for orchestras. He’s an example of someone that’s taking the music, not only carrying the tradition, but also bringing it to new places through his compositions.”

Drummer Marcus Gilmore “has already had an incredible career playing with Vijay Iyer and just being a very well-respected musician as the younger generation.”

“We have a nice mix of talent from all throughout the whole jazz spectrum,” Mitchell said.

One of the changes Mitchell has already made in the jazz seminar is to add an opening concert on Nov. 1 at Bellefield Hall. Amina Claudine Myers will give a solo performance with vocals, piano and Hammond B3 organ. Myers also will do a workshop with members of the gospel music community on “Choral Improvisation: Collective Improv for Singers” on Nov. 2 at Homewood’s Carnegie Library.

Gilmore will work with young drummers on Nov. 2 at the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood.

The concerts are preceded by presentations and discussions about jazz on Pitt’s Oakland campus. All events are free, unless otherwise noted.

Oct. 28

  • Noon: Kick-off Concert by the Pitt Jazz Ensemble. William Pitt Union, Lower Lounge

  • 8–10 p.m.: Open Jazz Jam Session, open to all university students from the region. Nordy’s at William Pitt Union

Oct. 31

6:30–8 p.m.: Student Composition Showcase, Pitt solo performers, duos and trios will perform original compositions. Frick Fine Arts auditorium

Amina Claudine MyersNov. 1

  • 1 p.m.: Graduate Student Research Presentations by three Pitt jazz students. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

  • 4–5:30 p.m.: Jazz Panel Discussion: Performing Creative Resistance, with Jazz Studies Associate Professor Michael Heller and Assistant Professor Aaron Johnson exploring how jazz relates to social justice. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

  • 7:30–9 p.m.: Pitt Jazz Opening Concert, with Amina Claudine Myers. Bellefield Hall auditorium. Tickets are $10, $5 for seniors and students.

Nov. 2

  • 9 a.m.: Jason Moran, piano, artist seminar, “In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall 1959.” Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

  • 10 a.m.: Roscoe Mitchell, saxophones/percussion, artist seminar, “The Association for the Advancement for Creative Musicians: Ancient to the Future.” Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

  • Noon: Moor Mother, spoken word/electronics, artist seminar, “Transforming Reality Through Black Quantum Futurism.” Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

  • 1 p.m.: Rufus Reid, bass, artist seminar, “The Process of Composing Music is Truly Mysterious, Daunting, and Glorious.” Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

  • 7:30–10 p.m.: Pitt Jazz Concert, with Marcus Gilmore, drum set; Moor Mother, spoken word/electronics; Roscoe Mitchell, saxophones/percussion; Jason Moran, piano; Rufus Reid, bass, under the direction of Nicole Mitchell, flutes/electronics. Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $25-$30; $10 for students.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 412-648-4294.


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