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PITTSBURGH JAZZ

 

From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.

 

Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?

 

Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.

 

For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.

 

Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.

 

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Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin

    MARY LOU WILLIAMS     

            INTERVIEW

       In Her Own Words

PITTSBURGH JAZZ LEGEND KENNY " "FISH" FISHER PASSES

Event Details

PITTSBURGH JAZZ LEGEND KENNY " "FISH" FISHER PASSES

Time: November 1, 2009 from 2pm to 6pm
Location: Mount Gilead Church
Street: 740 South Avenue @ Mulberry
City/Town: Wilkinsburg, PA 15221
Event Type: viewing
Organized By: Dr. Nelson Harrison
Latest Activity: Nov 1, 2009

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Event Description

Below are the arrangements passed on to us from Mr. Fred Logan, a longtime friend of Kenny's.

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Comment by david shane on October 29, 2009 at 2:28pm
... again sudden loss emphasizes the brevity of our stay here on earth... I am filled with sadness as I certainly thought Fish would be with us longer... I learned so much from him at the workshop in such a short time, he was so very special in manner and ability, and I am certainly blessed by his inspiration and love of music.... his sound will continue to resonate ... my sorrow joins with those long time friends, students, and family who knew and loved him....
Comment by Jaki Young on October 29, 2009 at 1:19pm
Kenny was a long time teacher at the Jazz Workshop, Inc. He starting teaching there in the '70's. He was a true mentor. He was a fabulous sax player. He jokingly called sax players, "Saxoffonists." We used to laugh about being able to hit a "high H" on the horn. Kenny was a true inspiration to many of the students at the Jazz Workshop. We used to call him "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh." I think he really was.

Kenny was a true gentleman and used to talk about his love of ballads. He was a romantic of sorts. Quiet spoken he was, yet he was effervescent and very funny. He could light up a room with his mastery
of the sax as well as his great stories.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on October 29, 2009 at 4:00am
On Friday evening I was informed from Amir Rahied that Kenny Fisher was in ICU and not doing good. On Sunday evening I received a phone call from Sister Imani that our Pittsburgh Jazz legend had joined the ancestors on Saturday.

I have known Mr. Kenny Fisher since I was a teenager and I have always looked to him as well as others as one of our Jazz Messengers. He has NEVER gotten the recognition he deserved but I have always respected and admired him. He reminded me of other players , but he indeed did have a sound of his own and you knew it was him playing.

As my broadcasting career evolved he always encouraged me. As my Jazz promotion activities increased over the years, he encouraged me. I was even able to book him as a member of the Jazz Workshop Big Band, another group of Pittsburgh "unsung" Jazz heroes. Being from a musical background I always wanted to sit down and document his musical journey but we were never able to connect the way we wanted to.

He was an elder statesman, an outstanding musician ,a good friend and I'm going to miss him and that smile he would always have.

Take care,

Kevin Amos

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