MCG Jazz is a hidden gem at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on the North Side, hosting live jazz concerts each year in a season that runs from fall through spring. These concerts bring in some of the best names in jazz today, from vocalists to instrumentalists, and from Broadway stars to Grammy Award winners.
Despite living a few blocks from this one for several years, we never knew it existed until a coworker told us about it. Naturally, we bought tickets right away.
One of the Best Jazz Venues in Pittsburgh
The MCG Jazz concert series is an impressive 31 years old, making it one of the longest running jazz concert series in the country.
The season runs from September through May with about a dozen concerts each year. You can purchase season tickets or buy them individually, but be aware that the individual tickets sell out quickly once they go on sale in August.
We were lucky enough to get tickets to a fantastic concert this season, the Django Festival All-Stars featuring Dorado Schmitt. This group came all the way from France, and they don't tour very much throughout the year, so we felt very fortunate to witness such great musicians in concert. (Admittedly, they also played Light Up Night the day before for free, but we can never turn down live music in a proper venue.)
The All-Stars pay homage to Gypsy jazz, featuring several guitars, violin, bass, and an accordion. We don't regularly check out jazz concerts but we thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Although we may not have fully understood the greatness of the group going in to the concert, by the end of it, it was clear that these were incredible musicians pouring their heart and soul into their music-making.
The Craftsmen's Guild is Unique in Its Own Right
The concerts take place in the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild building in Chateau. This organization is a non-profit dedicated to music, art, and education, and it offers after-school programs to area youth in ceramics, photography, digital arts, and painting.
With a modest 350 seats, the concert hall itself draws a crowd but still feels somewhat intimate. There is a small bar set up in the lobby for concerts, but no food or drink is allowed inside the theater.
One of the lesser known facts about MCG Jazz is that they have their own recording studio which has won several Grammy Awards over the years, a testament to the commitment the organization has to preserving and promoting live jazz.
The tickets are on the pricier side at $50 each, but the price reflects the quality of musicians that they are able to bring in. We had such a good time at MCG Jazz that we can definitely see returning to this spot each season!
MCG Jazz is the live jazz music series found at the Manchester Crafstmen's Guild at 1815 Metropolitan St in the North Side- right next door to Bicycle Heaven. Cameras are not allowed in the theater, so we had to opt for cell phone photos for this one. Sorry!