Patrice Rushen Performs at Pgh International Jazz Fest; Palace Theatre Hosts Tommy James and the Shondells (Sun., 9/19/21)

1) The world famous New Orleans Jazz Festival is cancelled for 2021, but the also noted Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival is still on with covid protocols in place. This year’s mix of jazz and R&B includes top notch performers Chaka Khan and Patrice Rushen. Khan (Fri., Benedum Center) has had many top hits over the years including “I Feel for You” as a solo artist and “Ain’t Nobody” and “Tell Me Something Good” as part of the group Rufus. Rushen’s mega-hits are “You Remind Me” and “Forget Me Nots,” the latter of which includes one of the best funky bass lines ever. The hook was so good that Will Smith used it in the music bed for his song “Men in Black.” Rushen performs Sunday at Highmark Stadium. Both performers have amazing voices. 

The festival’s other performers hold their own too with Marcus Miller, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Gregory Porter, Kenny Garrett, Jazzmeia Horn, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Eddi Palmeri Afro-Caribbean Jazz Septet are scheduled to play over Saturday and Sunday. The Pittsburgh International Jazz festival is a production of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and presented by Citizens Bank. (R.H.)

2) Pop-rock blasters Tommy James and the Shondells got their start in Niles, Michigan, but their big breaks came right here in the Pittsburgh area. Unknown to James, his group’s early and near-forgotten cover of “Hanky Panky” became a hit at local dance clubs in 1965—and from there, long story short, it was onward to stardom with late-’60s singles such as “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” James and the Shondells have kept on rocking through personnel changes and changing times. 8 p.m. The Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (M.V.)

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Rick Handler

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