Two drummers sat on Friday in the middle of Market Square Downtown, beating on bright orange buckets.
Soon, trumpeters and saxophonists walked from opposite corners of the square to meet them, as those eating lunch and unloading shipments to restaurants stopped to watch and listen.
“Playing music is like a community,” said Joe Badaczewski of Dormont. “It builds relationships across the city.”
Mr. Badaczewski was one of the musicians involved in the “Jazz Mob” today to promote the upcoming Jazz Live International Festival. The performance was a take on the popular social experiment “flash mob” that typically starts with one person dancing, followed by several synchronized dancers in a public space.
Paige Blawas, consumer engagement coordinator for Mullen Advertising, said the idea for the promotion came from the success of viral flash mob videos. The advertising agency handed out fliers and sunglasses to promote the festival, but the performance was a way to get the musicians involved, Ms. Blawas said.
Jevon Rushton of Regent Square organized the musicians beforehand, giving direction for a New Orleans feel, but the performance was completely improvised.
“I got chills,” he said when the group finished playing.
The fourth-annual Jazz Fest begins next Friday with a 25-stop JazzLive Crawl in the Cultural District offering live music at each stop. The free three-day festival will feature 200 musicians and 72 hours of jazz and jazz-inspired music.
Jazz stars Dianna Reeves, Fred Wesley and Dwayne Dolphin are a few of the performers scheduled for the festival. Other events include Showcase Noir, featuring works from regional African-American artists and a pop-up record store on Liberty Avenue.
“During this festival we celebrate some of the world’s most important jazz musicians and an art form that has merged several cultures into one distinct style,” Janis Burley Wilson, vice president of education and community engagement for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, said in a news release.