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The Sultry Sounds of Brazilian Songstress Kenia Ashby

City of Asylum (2018)

City of Asylum’s Vocalist Series Presents

Kenia Ashby

Tuesday, June 5th
8:00 pm

Kenia Ashby‘s voice embodies the best of the Brazilian sound – deep and sultry, richly diverse, unexpectedly explosive. Born in Nova Iguaçu (a suburb of Rio de Janeiro), she is renowned for her ability to translate the complex rhythms of her Brazilian homeland into jazzy creations.

Kenia Ashby

“Kenia is a Brazilian original, building a bridge to the next generation of Brazilian music fans… her voice can suspend time, and it can lead you to think about nothing at all, even if just for a few minuts, and in this day that’s nothing short of miraculous.”
iHeartMedia

From local clubs, to international performances, to her ongoing innovation in recording sizzling Brazilian beats, Kenia creates her own unique blend of Brazilian pop, samba, bossa nova and choro with great stage presence and a gift for engaging the audience.

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Celebrate the Legacy of Pittsburgh-born Jazz Singer Maxine Sullivan

City of Asylum (2018)

Jessica Lee

Thursday, May 17th
8:00 pm

Acclaimed jazz & blues vocalist, songwriter and recording artist Jessica Lee will debut her new special tribute show The Return of the Pint-Sized Songstress to remember and honor the musical contributions of Pittsburgh-born Jazz singer Maxine Sullivan. Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of the 1930s, Maxine Sullivan would influence generations of singers to come, including Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

Jessica Lee

“[In] smoke-filled clubs here and across the country, Lee is …. known for her soulful and skilled handling of gospel, blues, jazz and soul classics.”
Pittsburgh Magazine

Jessica will be joined by local guitar guru Mark Strickland. Jessica and Mark have played and recorded as a jazz duo both regionally and nationally for years. Don’t miss this chance to catch the debut of their latest collaboration here at Alphabet City!

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A Spontaneous Creation of Words, Jazz and Dance

City of Asylum (2018)

The Ellipses Condition Presents

Completely Out of Context

Saturday, April 28th
8:00 pm

Completely Out of Context is a site-specific performance created by The Ellipses Condition. Writers and poets will share original works accompanied by improvisational jazz musicians and dancers. Readers will also lend fresh meaning to books grabbed from the stacks around them, intoning their readings with intent inspired by the musicians and the dancers.

The Ellipses Condition

The Ellipses Condition is the partnered artistry of Pearlann Porter and John Lambert, sharing a commitment to the authentic translation of their inner thoughts and emotions into dance, music and words. Their improvisational performances blur the dynamics between movement, musicality and poetry, embodying the philosophy of ‘jazz as a verb’ lived in every aspect of being. Collaboratively they cultivate new audio/physical relationships, lending living bodies to intangible conversations.

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Stephan Crump’s Rhombal, Part of a National Tour

City of Asylum (2018)

Stephan Crump’s
Rhombal

Sunday, April 22nd
7:00 pm

City of Asylum welcomes back Grammy-nominated bassist/composer Stephan Crump. He played here in 2017 with his group Rosetta and earlier with Vijay Iyer Trio. Rhombal will be playing a special jazz concert elegy composed for Stephan’s late brother.

Stephan Crump's Rhombal

“Crump’s compositions impart concise and easily expandable storylines, along with his associates who fluently operate through numerous jazz-based modalities.”
All About Jazz

Stephan is known for the elegance and purposeful groove of his acoustic and electric bass playing, and for transforming his instrument into a speaking entity with magnetic pull. A longtime collaborator with adventurous jazz composers, he is a singular voice. His music can be heard in numerous films and on his twelve critically acclaimed albums as leader.

In addition to Stephan, Rhombal features veteran Ellery Eskelin on tenor saxophone, a brilliant young trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, and extraordinary drummer Kassa Overall.

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Time-Travelling Jazz that Fuses Past with Future

City of Asylum (2018)

Kevin Sun Trio

Sunday, April 15th
6:00 pm

Brooklyn-based saxophonist Kevin Sun comes to Alphabet City in celebration of his adventurous new album Trio, his debut as a bandleader.

Kevin’s style is as genre-bending as it is time-hopping. As The New York Times describes, his sound incorporates “the shoulder-hugging maneuvers of Mark Turner, the snaky melodicism of Chris Potter, the susurrating quiet of Chris Speed. But Mr. Sun reaches back farther. Sometimes you’ll hear a smoldering kernel of Albert Ayler; when he picks up the clarinet, the tonal gamesmanship of Jimmy Giuffre looms in.”

Trio Album Cover

“[Kevin Sun is] a player who sees the big picture and his evolving place within it…”
The New York City Jazz Record

With Walter Stinson (bass) and Matt Honor (drums), Trio is an exploration of the differing epochs and trends in jazz history, merging the contemporary and the traditional in satisfying ways. These era-spanning compositions are as propulsive and swinging as they are intricate and challenging.

Together, this trio cultivates something wholly new from the seeds of the past.

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Jazz Pianist Cat Toren Returns!

City of Asylum (2018)

TMT Trio

Thursday, January 18th
8:00 pm

JUNO award-winning pianist Cat Toren‘s concert at Alphabet City last May was a sell-out and a big hit with the audience. She returns to Pittsburgh and Alphabet City – but with a different group – for another evening of cutting-edge, full-hearted jazz.

TMT Trio

The New York-based TMT Trio — a collaboration of Cat Toren (piano), Angela Morris (saxophone) and Anthony Taddeo (drums) — will play both original compositions and collaborative improvisations. TMT’s bass-free instrumentation showcases the multifaceted chamber music character of the piano and explores the extension of the roles of all three instruments.

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Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

Fall Jazz Series: Jeff Bush Showcases His New Ensemble Creations

City of Asylum (2017)

Jeff Bush Presents

4 & 7: Music for Quartet and Septet

Tuesday, October 29th
6:00 pm

Pittsburgh-based international jazz trombonist Jeff Bush presents his own take on the contemporary jazz ensemble.

4 & 7: Music for Quartet and Septet will feature Jeff’s own compositions, played by a jazz ensemble in different configurations. Jeff has played with other bands at Alphabet City to great acclaim from the audience.
Jeff Bush
Jeff’s music has taken him around the world. He has toured with The Glenn Miller Orchestra and the big band of superstar Harry Connick Jr., played in the pit of countless Broadway shows and made a number of network television appearances including special performances for the NBA All-Star Game and for Pope Benedict XVI. Now an instructor at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh is fortunate to have such a seasoned performer in our midst!

Jeff (on trombone) will be joined by Kent Englehardt (clarinet), Mike Tomaro (bass clarinet), Shanyse Strickland (french horn), Gavin Horning (guitar), Paul Thompson (bass) and Thomas Wendt (drums).

Reserve Your Free Tickets

Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

“One of the most spell-binding … documentaries ever made.”

City of Asylum (2017)

Sembène – The Film & Art Festival Presents

I Called Him Morgan

Monday, October 16th
7:00 pm

On a snowy night in February 1972, the 33-year-old jazz trumpet star Lee Morgan was shot dead by his common-law wife, Helen, during a gig at a club in New York City. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts the people who knew the Morgans. Helen served time for the crime and, following her release, retreated into obscurity.

Lee Morgan

“The movie has the perfect soundtrack for swirling. It’s mesmerizing, too vivid to be evanescent, too precious to hold.” – Vulture

Over 20 years later, a chance encounter led her to give a remarkable interview. Helen’s revealing audio “testimony” acts as a refrain throughout the film, which draws together a wealth of archival photographs and footage, notable figures and incredible jazz music to tell the ill-fated pair’s story.

Part true-crime tale, part love story, and an all-out musical treat, I Called Him Morgan is a stirring tribute to two unique personalities and the music that brought them together.

Reserve Your Free Tickets

Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

When making your reservation,
please add that you wish to see the film under special notes.

May 9th: Pittsburgh’s Legendary Chanteuse, Etta Cox

City of Asylum (2017)

Etta Cox

Sunday, May 9th
8:00 pm

Etta CoxPowerhouse jazz/cabaret singer Etta Cox has been voted “Best Jazz Vocalist” in Pittsburgh for 8 consecutive years – and if you have ever seen her in concert, this should come as no surprise! Etta thrills audiences with her intoxicating, smooth vocals reminiscent of a bygone era.

Etta has opened for such legends as Ray Charles, Doc Severinson, and Debbie Reynolds. She has appeared on Broadway, on television and in films, co-hosted the television talk show Citylife and performed in many local theater productions at the City Theater and Pittsburgh Public Theater.

Etta is one of Pittsburgh’s “living treasures”. Don’t miss this chance to be at her City of Asylum @ Alphabet City debut!

Reserve Your Free Tickets

Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

Jazz Poetry Month: Final Three Concerts this Weekend

Jazz Poetry Month 2016

Final Three Concerts of Jazz Poetry Month


Mary Halvorson

Mary Halvorson (solo)

October 7th

Free Tickets


Tomas Fujiwara

Tomas Fujiwara

October 8th

Free Tickets


Thumbscrew

Thumbscrew

October 9th

Free Tickets

Last year, Thumbscrew – a trio made up of Mary Halvorson (guitar), Tomas Fujiwara (drums) and Michael Formanek (double bass) – created and recorded their new album Convallaria here at City of Asylum during their BNY Mellon Jazz Residency.

This year, to close out Jazz Poetry Month, these powerhouse performers return to Pittsburgh for a three-day showcase of talent not to be missed!

On Friday, October 7th, join guitarist Mary Halvorson for a solo concert. This NPR-featured performer has been deemed “a bridge between the jazz of the past and the jazz of the future” by the trendsetting review site Pitchfork. If you have heard her jazz interludes or Tiny Desk Concerts on NPR, now is the time to catch this nationally-acclaimed musician in person!

On Saturday, October 8th, catch a concert with Tomas Fujiwara and The Hook Up. Tomas and his band are at the front lines of today’s jazz and have been called “prominent representatives of new directions in jazz and improvisation.” Get a taste of the cutting-edge New York jazz right here in Pittsburgh!

Finally, on Sunday, October 9th, Thumbscrew reunites on the Alphabet City stage. This band has been dubbed “One of the most exciting bands currently playing,” and we could not be more thrilled to welcome them back to City of Asylum!

We cannot think of a better way to close out Jazz Poetry Month.