World Premiere Set for Jazz Poetry Concert This Weekend

Oliver Lake
City of Asylum Pittsburgh Jazz Poetry Concert: Oliver Lake
Photo Credit: Renee Rosensteel

The audience at tomorrow night’s Jazz Poetry Concert in Allegheny Commons Park is in for a special treat – a world premiere inspired by North Side neighbors.

On Saturday evening, musician and composer Oliver Lake and poet TJ Dema will debut “Stoop is a Verb.” Although he refers to it as a “song,” Lake says a more accurate description of his composition is “poetry set to music.” Nearly all the words and phrases came directly from people who live in Allegheny City Central and other nearby neighborhoods.

Last fall, as part of his residency with City of Asylum Pittsburgh (COAP), Lake met with residents in a series of focus groups hosted by COAP.  He listened and then culled what he heard into an upbeat piece that reflects “some colorations of the North Side.”

Lake, the musical host of Jazz Poetry, has appeared in each concert since 2005. Composer, musician, poet, painter and performance artist, he is featured on more than 50 recordings. Perhaps best known for his bluesy saxophone trademark, Lake says he looks forward to playing with his big band at the 10th anniversary show.

Tomorrow night’s premiere is a teaser of what’s to come from his COAP residency. “Stoop is a Verb” is one a half dozen original works that sprung from the focus groups. All six will be performed at a concert in April 2015.

“There were a lot of overlapping comments and themes in the focus groups,” explains Lake. “By the fifth or sixth group, a rhythm emerged, and it flowed easily.”

“I think people will like it,” he continues. “I also hope will make them laugh.”

If you’ve ever lived on the North Side, you’re already smiling at the title.

City of Asylum Pittsburgh’s 10th annual Jazz Poetry Concert takes place – rain or shine — on Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 7:45 until 9:45 p.m. in Allegheny Commons Park near the National Aviary. Admission is free, but reservations are suggested. To reserve a spot and see the complete line-up of performers and their bios, visit the Jazz Poetry Concert event page.


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