Ever wish you had something interesting to do on Mondays? Well, a series of fortuitous bookings has provided our city with some great progressive jazz over the next couple of months: announcing the Thunderbird Cafe Summer Avant-Jazz Mondays series. All shows are at Thunderbird Cafe, 4023 Butler St., in Lawrenceville.
Concerts are over 21, held in a smoke-free, air-conditioned upstairs. Those still addicted can come downstairs to smoke. There are no physical tickets at outlets for these shows – instead, tickets are on sale now at
The purpose of this series “to keep bringing the progressive jazz artists which Pittsburgh’s funded cultural institutions and mainstream jazz venues tend to ignore.” And this is a valid point. Except for maybe a couple
concerts per year at the Warhol Museum, these artists currently have nowhere else to play in Pittsburgh, so this
is a much-needed resource. Plus, it’s a comfortable atmosphere where you can get food and drinks.
Here is the upcoming schedule. We hope to see you at some of these concerts.
Monday July 5
Kahil El-Zabar & Hamiet Bluiett Ritual Trio (from Chicago)
with Thoth Trio
8 pm $15/$20
Kahil EL’Zabar is a jazz multi-instrumentalist (mainly a percussionist) and composer. He regularly records for Delmark Records. He joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the early 1970s, and became its chairman in 1975. He formed the musical groups Ritual Trio and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, both of which remain active. Musicians with whom Kahil EL’Zabar has collaborated include Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Cannonball Adderley, and Paul Simon.
Hamiet Bluiett is an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. His primary instrument is the baritone saxophone, and he is considered one of the finest living players of this instrument. In the late 1960s, Bluiett co-founded the Black Artists’ Group (BAG) of St. Louis, Missouri, a collective dedicated to fostering creative work in theater, visual arts, dance, poetry, film, and music. Bluiett joined the Charles Mingus Quintet and the Sam Rivers large ensemble. In 1976, he co-founded the World Saxophone Quartet (along with two other Black Artists’ Group members, Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake), which soon became jazz music’s most renowned saxophone quartet. Since the 1990s, he has led a virtuosic quartet, the Bluiett Baritone Nation, made up entirely of baritone saxophones, with drum set accompaniment. In the 1980s, he also founded The Clarinet Family, a group of eight clarinetists playing clarinets of various sizes ranging from E-flat soprano to contrabass. Bluiett has also worked with Babatunde Olatunji, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. He has recorded for numerous labels including India Navigation, Black Saint, Justin Time, Soul Note, and Knitting Factory.
Mon July 12
William Hooker (from NYC)
with Matta Gawa (from Washington, D.C.)
8 pm $10/$12
Hooker is an acclaimed percussionist since the mid-’70s, releasing over 20 CDs on labels such as Knitting Factory,
Ecstatic Peace and Silkheart. As a composer, he has received commissions from Meet the Composer, the NY State Council on the Arts, and Real Art Ways, and led many creative ensembles with musicians from diverse backgrounds, including Lee Ranaldo, David Murray, David S. Ware, William Parker, DJ Spooky and Thurston Moore. Hooker often reads his poetry during performances as part of the musical compositions.
Matta Gawa’s debut album ‘BA’ is distributed through ESP-Disk. Drummer Sam Lohman worked with Steve Mackay of the Stooges and Acid Mothers Temple. Guitarist Ed Ricart works with Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Peter Brotzmann, Herb Robertson, Jason Ajemian, and members of Fugazi, Bardo Pond, Pinback, Stinking Lizaveta, and the Swirlies.
Mon July 26
Aram Shelton Quartet (from Chicago)
with Dave Bernabo & Darryl Fleming
8 pm $8/$10
A multi-instrumentalist on saxophones & clarinets, composer and improviser, Aram Shelton was recently featured in Downbeat, and compared in the press to a young Roscoe Mitchell or Anthony Braxton. His groups in Chicago include the Fast Citizens (Delmark Records), Rolldown (Cuneiform), and his own Arrive. While studying at Mills, Shelton developed compositions wherein written phrases played by orchestral instruments are rearranged via custom built patches in MAX/MSP. He continues to improvise and compose electroacoustic music focused on these concepts. Meanwhile, he’s been fortunate to perform with a wide variety of talented musicians including Ken Vandermark, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Weasel Walter, Rob Mazurek, Jessica Pavone, Kevin Drumm, and Chris Brown. He has performed in Europe, Canada and the United States including appearances at Chicago Jazz Fest, Suoni per il Popolo in Montreal, and Krakow Autumn Jazz Fest. Other recordings of his are on 482 Music, Locust Music, and his own Singlespeed Music.
Mon Aug 2
Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Trio (from Chicago)
with Mike Klobuchar & Ed Tarzia
8 pm $15/$20
Ernest “Khabeer” Dawkins is an American jazz saxophonist, principally active in free jazz and post-bop. He was a neighbor of Anthony Braxton as a child. During the ’70s, he began studying with members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), such as Joseph Jarman and Chico Freeman. He worked with Ed Wilkerson, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and Douglas Ewart before founding his own New Horizons Ensemble, which plays regularly in Chicago as well as at jazz festivals and on tour in Europe. He has several releases out on
the Delmark and Silkheart labels.