Jazz: July 2010

July means a busy month on the local Jazz scene (especially outdoors).

Drummer Roger Humphries, the distinguished gentleman I call “The Dean” of Pittsburgh jazz, continues his Thursday-night jam sessions at CJ’s, which features a very warm, laid-back atmosphere and reasonably priced food. Humphries, who has hosted the gig for about three years, recently said to me, “If you haven’t been to CJ’s on Thursday nights, you have missed going to church.”

You’ll find Humphries there on drums, and as always, he brings with him some of the very best musicians in the Pittsburgh area: His regular sidemen include Max Leake on piano, Dwayne Dolphin on bass, Lou Stellute on sax and James Moore on trumpet.

On a national basis, Humphries might be best-known for his recording with pianist Horace Silver’s most-popular album, Song for My Father. He also traveled with the legendary Ray Charles Band, as well as with Stanley Turrentine, Shirley Scott and organist Richard Groove Holmes.

(CJ’s, 2911 Penn Ave., Strip District. Thursdays, 8 p.m.-midnight. No cover. Info: 412/403-1383)

Pittsburgh truly is blessed with a lot of great talent. One of the best keyboard artists our region has to offer is Max Leake, who has been composing, arranging, writing, recording and performing for 35 years. Catch him this month at the Backstage Bar.

Leake’s arrangements on the late Sandy Staley’s album Everything I Love were absolutely beautiful. Plus, he’s recorded on several CDs, including four with saxophonist Kenny Blake, two with vocalist Billy Price, two with Salsamba, as well as with Al Dowe, Etta Cox Quartet, vocalist Lisa Ferraro, the Balcony Big Band and “Tim Eyermann and the East Coast Offering.” As a leader, he’s recorded Buns in the Sun on Visionary Records, released in 1985, and Trios on Corona, released in 2004.

(655 Penn Ave., downtown. Tues., July 27, 7-10 p.m. Info: 412/325-6769)

• If you haven’t heard vocalist Shawnee Lake, you have missed a really exciting performer. She’ll be the guest vocalist of saxophonist Jared Wilson at the Backstage Bar on Tues., July 6.

(655 Penn Ave., downtown. 7-11 p.m. Free. Info: 412/325-6769)

• You can also catch Shawnee Lake with Jared Wilson in Sewickley in a performance at the outdoor gazebo at Wolcott Park on Fri., July 16, as part of the Sweetwater Center for the Arts’ summer music series.

(Corner of Broad and Beaver streets. 6-8 p.m. Free. Info: 412/741-4405, sweetwaterartcenter.org)

Vocalist Etta Cox and trumpeter Squirrel Mosley are scheduled to perform as the opening act for the Monroeville Jazz Festival at Boyce Park. They will be featuring the music of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald and trumpeter/vocalist Louis Armstrong. The band’s sidemen include Tim Jenkins on keyboards, Lou Schreiber on sax and Keith Moorhouse on drums.

The festival, part of the Allegheny County Parks summer parks concert series, benefits the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.

(Boyce Park Wave Pool, Monroeville. DATE, 3-9 p.m. Free with donation of nonperishable food item. Info: 412/372-4332, monroevillejazz.org)