Harlem jazz hits Pittsburgh

The Shadow Lounge jived last Friday night with the jazz and R&B stylings of Carolyn Perteete and Eviction Notice, two local acts. Advertised as “a jazz extravaganza and cocktail party,” the event drew a crowd of well-dressed students from local colleges and music lovers from the community. It was hosted by the Black Business Association of the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business in celebration of Black History Month.

Carolyn Perteete, a Pittsburgh singer/songwriter whose style of jazz is infused with R&B, provided a mellowing musical backdrop for the lounge ambience. Although
her voice was too flat for pop music, Perteete seemed comfortable with the support of her rhyhtm section, featuring guitar, drums, and acoustic bass.

“She has more of a neo-soul jazz voice, but [her sound is] far from mainstream. It’s more of an alternative R&B,” observed Adam Wright, a senior business major who attended the show. “[Her style] has a lot more R&B sound, more contemporary and different, but still has a lot of the jazz aspects.”

As part of a music class, Wright had seen Perteete perform previously at the Afro-American Music Institute, which specializes in instrumental and vocal training in all styles of the African-American music tradition. “You want to fall in love with her every time you watch her sing,” Wright said.

Following Perteete was Eviction Notice, a group who draws strongly from hip-hop beats. Also native to Pittsburgh, Eviction Notice provided an eclectic mix of soul, R&B, hip-hop, and jazz with an occasional funk groove. In addition to playing some original compositions, Eviction Notice sampled songs from a number of different genres, interpreting each in a unique style. The transitions from one sample to another were smooth.

The Shadow Lounge, now in its sixth year of operation, exhibits an urban, cultural cool. Located in East Liberty, by Baum Boulevard and South Highland Avenue, the club may be a bit out of the way for most Carnegie Mellon students, though it’s worth the trip for its authentic lounge atmosphere. Warm-colored walls flow into darkly covered couches as the music reverberates around the room. The Shadow Lounge, however, is not a party venue. It boasts many cultural events, ranging from hip-hop and jazz performances to poetry jams.

Although the event was advertised as a celebration
of the Harlem Renaissance, the contemporary jazz of Perteete and Eviction Notice is far removed from the 1920s-era performers. Still, the event was certainly relevant to black history. “Jazz music heralds the history of Harlem. Our bands performed classic jazz and new-age jazz mixed with hip-hop,” stated Sola M. Talabi, president of the Black Business Association, in an e-mail. “Music is an integral part of black culture, and hence we felt a need to integrate historical black music into our events for Black History Month.”

“The main idea behind the Harlem Renaissance was the flourishing of African-American culture,” Wright said. “The styles change but they retain their roots.”

Perteete and Eviction Notice prove that innovative jazz-inspired music has roots in the Pittsburgh music scene with a solid home at the Shadow Lounge. Their contemporary styles offer a euphonic blend of genres that should at least make the Harlem masters smile on the inside — even if they shout to turn off the ruckus.