Mission Statement reunites for First Night



If you've never heard of the band Mission Statement, you're not alone.

According to trumpeter Sean Jones, who founded it about a decade ago, "it was more like a collective" of some of Pittsburgh's best younger jazz musicians, virtually all of whom have since become established stars in their own right.

Whatever it was, it will reunite for Pittsburgh's First Night celebration, playing from 6:30 to 7:30 and 9 to 10 p.m. in the Peirce Studio on Liberty Avenue.

"It's like a little reunion," Mr. Jones says.

"When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I wanted to get as many of the good young musicians together" as possible to continue yet recast the jazz tradition. "If they were 40 and younger they were in it. We were at Dowe's every Tuesday."

Among those involved were pianist Craig Davis, bassist Tony DePaolis and Paul Thompson and drummer James Johnson III.

But that weekly meeting of up-and-comers wasn't well known. "It was underground," Mr. Jones says. "It wasn't advertised."

Of late he had been considering a reunion.

"I haven't played with James Johnson in a while," he says, so he asked him, "Why don't we get some configuration of that together?"

Tuesday's lineup will include Mr. Thompson, Mr. Johnson and pianist and recent Duquesne University graduate Brett Williams. There's a chance that saxophonist Jacob Yoffee, now in Los Angeles but whose wife is from Pittsburgh, "may be around for the holidays. If it works out, there will be the five of us," Mr. Jones says.


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