The 12th annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (September 16-18) follows the 2022 Highmark Blues and Heritage Festival in Pittsburgh (September 14 and 15)
The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival was created by Janis Burley Wilson. She's the President and CEO of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in Pittsburgh. The city celebrates in two big ways this week. First it's the 2022 Highmark Blues and Heritage Festival (September 14th and 15th) to be followed by the 12th annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (September 16-18) at Highmark Stadium.
Burley Wilson stresses the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival will always be true to the art form of jazz.
"I promised myself and promised others who really wanted to see a jazz festival that it would remain a jazz festival as opposed to a music festival with a little jazz sprinkled in. For the Jazz Festival, it really is rooted in jazz and music that has improvisation. So if there is music that
isn't jazz, it has those elements that are related to jazz."
This year's lineup is very impressive. More than one hundred musicians will be performing, from award-winning legends to new and unique voices in jazz, funk, and fusion. The lineup includes the most recorded bassist in history, multi-Grammy winner Ron Carter; jazz fusion pioneer Stanley Clarke; soul funk icons, the Average White Band; award-winning vocalist and current phenom, Samara Joy (pictured above); vocal storyteller and stylist, Vanisha Gould; award-winning pianist, Orrin Evans; innovator and cultural interpreter, trumpeter, Chief Adjuah (formerly Christian Scott); UK-based acid jazz favorites, Incognito featuring Maysa Leak, and many others, performing at August Wilson African American Culture Center (980 Liberty Avenue) and the Highmark Stadium (510 W. Station Square Drive).
Janice Burley Wilson and Vanisha Gould spoke recently with WBGO Journal host and News Director Doug Doyle about the upcoming festival weekend.
Gould, who is the sister of jazz pianist Victor Gould, started really enjoying jazz after listening to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald sing together on an album.
"It was my first experience on what I think is to learn vocal jazz. It's listening to the heroes and copying every single thing until you can find your own specific little avenue or a change in the melody some certain way that Ella didn't do and then BAM!, you've created your own little niche within the tune."
Gould came to New York in 2015 from Simi Valley, California. Inspired by artists like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Joni Mitchell, Carmen McRae and Ella Fitzgerald - she has successfully curated her own sound as a composer and band leader. Performing originals like "Gypsy Feet" and music from the Great American Songbook on several groundbreaking stages both in New York and overseas, she aspires to continue sharing her voice with audiences in New York and beyond.
Burley Wilson says she's thrilled to have Gould on stage this year.
"I'm so excited to be able to bring Vanisha Gould to Pittsburgh and introduce her to Pittsburgh audiences. I remember calling and texting a friend you've got to hear her. Her voice is so unique but it has that strength and that depth that you think of when you mention names like a Sarah Vaughan or Carmen McRae, people like that are one of a kind, so I've been kind of stalking her for awhile (laugh)."
You can find out more information here about the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival.
The entire interview with Janis Burley Wilson and Vanisha Gould can be SEEN here.