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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Heat up Downtown with JazzLive

Why you should go: Looking for an antidote to this month's sub-zero temps? Escape the polar vortex at JazzLive, a year-round live music series that has been heating up stages Downtown at Backstage Bar, Cabaret at Theater Square and Katz Plaza.

Jazz has long played a significant role in Pittsburgh's rich cultural history, with many pioneering figures calling the city home, from composer Billy Strayhorn and drummers Art Blakey and Roger Humphries, to current star trumpeter Sean Jones. Founded in 2003, the series continues to support and nurture this legacy, with its showcase of regional talent--as well as by serving as a creative platform for pairing emerging and established artists and an opportunity to build new audiences for the ever-evolving genre.

JazzLive kicked off its 2014 season on Tuesday, January 7th with a performance by the renowned drummer and percussionist Roger Humphries. The Pittsburgh native has provided the beat for music legends such as Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Stanley Turrentine, James Moody, and many others, and has appeared at famed NYC venues like Carnegie Music Hall, the Village Gate and the Apollo Theatre.

JazzLive keeps the sounds fresh, with a weekly concerts featuring some of the region's finest jazz musicians every Tuesday from 5 to 11 p.m. Through May 27th, all performances take place at Backstage Bar at Theater Square. During the summer months, the series takes the live jazz outdoors to Katz Plaza from 5 to 7 p.m. Presented by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, The JazzLive Tuesday night concerts at Backstage Bar are free and open to all ages.

Next up for JazzLive is local legend Dwayne Dolphin on Tuesday, January 14th. A fixture on the Burgh's jazz scene, bassist Dolphin has worked with fellow Pittsburghers such as Roger Humphries, Pete Henderson and Carl Arter. Throughout his extensive and diverse career, Dolphin has also performed and recorded with a “Who’s Who” of music, such as Nancy Wilson, Melba Moore, Fred Wesley and Abby Lincoln. Adjunct Professor of Jazz at Duquesne University, Dolphin has also lent his musical expertise to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's production of Indigo In Motion.

The diverse JazzLive lineup for March includes such luminaries as vocalist Tania Grubbs (March 4), a four-time recipient of The Heinz Endowments' Ready for Life Grants, who has been a featured vocalist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Civic Light Opera; the Latin Jazz quintet Salsamba (March 18), who blend authentic Latin-American rhythms with the harmonic and melodic sophistication of contemporary American jazz; and versatile saxophonist Don Aliquo (March 25), whose prolific career includes a stint in the Walter Reed Army Hospital Band, teaching positions at IUP and Highlands School District and performances with the big bands of Woody Herman, John Wilson, Hal Case, Johnny Long and Dean Hudson.

On April 22nd, don't miss Tony DePaolis--one of the most sought after bassists in Pittsburgh. Hailing from a musical family that has been active in the local music scene since the mid-1960s, DePaolis has extensive experience touring, recording and performing with notable local and national leaders in jazz. In 2009, he released his debut CD, "The Contemporary Dynamic," which is a two-disc cross-section of the jazz scene featuring 36 additional talents, such as Joe Negri, Roger Humphries, Sean Jones and Gene Stovall.

On May 13th, JazzLive welcomes electric bass guitarist Dan Wasson, who has played the in the Pittsburgh Jazz and R&B scene since the late 1970s and is an instructor at the African-American Music Institute.

Be sure to head to Backstage Bar on May 20th to catch musician, composer and jazz historian Nelson Harrison. A veteran of the Count Basie Orchestra, Harrison has played with Kenny Clarke, Billy Eckstine, Earl “Fatha” Hines and others. He has composed some 400 original compositions, including movie scores and soundtracks. Inventor of the trombetto instrument, Harrison has authored numerous articles on Pittsburgh’s jazz history and is currently working on a book.

JazzLive also boasts a number of special ticketed events for 2014 at the Cabaret at Theater Square, featuring internationall acclaimed jazz figures. A top highlight includes a Mardi Gras pre-party on February 11th featuring renowned jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon--known for his work with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra--teaming up with trumpeter extraordinaire Sean Jones. The evening will feature a lively repertoire of New Orleans inspired music.

Additional performers for the 2014 JazzLive Cabaret Sessions include: vocalist, songwriter, and actor Gregory Porter (April 1st); trumpter, composer and bandleader Sean Jones (April 8th); bassist Christian McBride (April 22nd) and pianist and producer Robert Glasper (April 29th).

View a complete schedule of all JazzLive events for January through May 2014.

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