You might not be familiar with the Afro-American Music Institute, Homewood's community-based music school specializing in jazz, blues, gospel and R&B. But if the lineup for Thursday night's JamTastic Music Marathon benefit concert is any indication, the AAMI's influence on the local-music scene has been considerable.
The concert features a huge number of performers, including a who's who of the local jazz scene: Sandy Dowe, Etta Cox, Kenny Blake, Howie Alexander, Dwayne Dolphin, Jessica Lee, Eugene Stovall and Dave Throckmorton. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. A highlight of the event will no doubt be the AAMI Music Ensemble, performing under Dr. James T. Johnson Jr., the institute's executive director.
Moving to Pittsburgh in the late 1970s, Johnson and his wife Pamela started the AAMI at the St. James AME Church in East Liberty in 1982, offering classes that emphasized personal growth and values through music study and the discipline of rehearsal and performance. In 2003, the institute moved into its own larger building on Hamilton Avenue in Homewood; in 2006, its 15-voice Boys' Choir of Pittsburgh celebrated its 16th year with the release of a CD, Hamilton Street Blues, recorded at George Heid's studios in Aspinwall, and featuring new compositions as well as contemporary arrangements of spirituals and gospel songs.
The JamTastic concert will be held at Gullifty's, a key local jazz venue in recent years; proceeds (a $15 minimum donation is requested) benefit the AAMI's youth programs.
JamTastic Music Marathon. 7 p.m. Thu., May 29. Gullifty's, 1922 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. $15 minimum donation. 412-241-6775 or afroamericanmusic.org
- Bassist Dwayne Dolphin, one of the night's performers