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Bennett headlines downsized Mellon Jazz Festival |

Bennett headlines downsized Mellon Jazz Festival

| Friday, April 12, 2002 12:00 a.m

The Mellon Jazz Festival is now a four-day event featuring eight acts, shrinking from 35 over six days last year and more than 40 in years past.

Emphasizing Mellon Financial Corp.’s “commitment to the community and to jazz,” corporate chairman Martin McGuinn Thursday announced the festival’s June 13-16 programs.

The lineup, featuring singer Tony Bennett and sax star Kenny Garrett, was offered in a lunchtime news conference at One Mellon Center, Downtown.

Speaking to the reduction in size of the festival, Rose M. Cotton, senior vice president and head of Mellon Corporate Affairs, said she is “not worried about possible negative reaction.”

“We’re a different company than we were a year ago,” she said. “This makes sense for the community and for us as a company.”

Mellon Financial last year sold its 345 banks — 120 in this area — to Citizens Financial Corp. of Providence, R.I.

The festival is different from what it was in the past years 15 of Mellon’s sole stewardship. It features one concert at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, North Side, one at Heinz Hall, Downtown, and two free events at Point State Park, Downtown.

No longer part of the event:

  • Shows at clubs with performers such as Hugh Masakela, David “Fathead” Newman and David Sanchez.

  • Free concerts with avant-garde players such as Henry Threadgill or Anthony Braxton.

  • Concerts in sites in surrounding areas such as McKeesport, Hampton Township and South Park.

  • Lunchtime concerts Downtown.

    Dan Melnick, producer of the event from New York City’s famed Festival Productions Inc., said those events were eliminated in an effort to be practical about producing shows that would draw good crowds.

    He said he believes the headliners of this event “all are leaders with a unique voice, whether singing or playing an instrument.”

    Besides Garrett and Bennett, the event will feature pianist Geri Allen, organist Gene Ludwig, New Orleans singer Dr. John, singer Rene Marie, bassist Mark Perna and his band and the Pittsburgh Jazz Society Big Band.

    At the news conference, the festival’s Mellon Jazz Community Award was presented to Tony Mowod, executive jazz producer at WDUQ-FM (90.5). Mowod is also the founder and president of the Pittsburgh Jazz Society.

    An event related to the festival will be April 27 and 28 with the Student Jazz Spectacular. In that event, high school students will study with jazz masters at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and then perform the next day at the Byham Theater, Downtown.

    McGuinn said Mellon’s “continuity and commitment” to the festival reflect Mellon’s “communication campaign” to establish the nature of the current firm

    Melnick spoke well of that commitment, saying many festivals across the country have scaled back operations. Transportation had become more costly following last September’s terrorist attacks, making touring a little more difficult, he said.

    “Overall, the business of event planning has really, really changed,” he said. “It’s a new world out there.”

    Mellon Jazz Festival

    June 13

  • Pittsburgh Jazz Society Big Band. Noon. Free. One Mellon Center Plaza, Downtown.
  • Geri Allen, 8 p.m. $20. Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, North Side. (412) 392-0800.

    June 14

  • Tony Bennett, 8 p.m. $39.50, $52, $67, $82. Heinz Hall, Downtown. (412) 392-4900.

    June 15

  • Mark Perna, John Schmidt, Mike Sakash, Dave Turner with Eric Susoeff and Eric Defade, 5 p.m. Free. Point State Park, Downtown.
  • Gene Ludwig, following Perna band.
  • Dr. John, following Ludwig.

    June 16

  • Rene Marie, 6 p.m. Free. Point State Park, Downtown.
  • Kenny Garrett, following Marie.

    Details: Mellon Jazz Festival hotline: (412) 234-3275.

    Categories: News
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