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, Parlanto 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.
Randy passed away a few hours ago, Sat. May 16th at 11:18 PM. He was ill for quite a while, and though we prayed for a recovery, he had lost his will to live. Go to You Tube and watch him play Don't Let the Sun Come Down on Me with Maynard! Unfortunately he died at the relatively young age of 63 years. The sun came down on him - but at least we can still see him and hear him play.
---Leslie Purcell Upchurch (his sister)
Stay tuned to this network for funeral arrangements.
I am deeply moved and saddened to hear of Randy's passing, and I extend my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to all of his family,Randy's parents, Jack and Jean, brother Rick, sister Leslie and Randy;s son ,Shawn and thier collective families. I was hired by Randy and worked with him for three years in the house band, at the now comitted to history, "Holiday House" I remember the passion and exuberance that Randy had for the art and the dedication, commitment and perseverence to the art form. In other words, " Randy was a player's player and a musician's musician" He will be missed by many including myself. Jack Cenna.
Randy Purcell's viewing hours and location are as follows:
Friday May 22, 2009
2pm - 4pm and 6pm - 8pm
Heard Funeral Home
4047 Perrysville Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15214
(412) 931-0200 www.heardfuneralhome.com
May Randy's soul be in peace and his memory be blessed.
My deepest condolences to Rick and Leslie, and Randy's entire family.
I feel for your loss and wish I could be there in person to give my support to you.
Peace to you,
I am so sorry to say that I will be out of town this weekend and will miss the services for Randy. However, I will be on the road with my band doing what Randy would have wanted: "Keepin' it Together"!
I want to send my deepest regrets to the Purcell family, and I am sorry I won't get to re-connect with all my CMU pals, and other jazz notables who were friends of the Captain.
That being said, I think a jam session in Randy's honor is in order. Any thoughts on time/ place?
A belated good bye to Randy Purcell. He was one of the first Pittsburgh jazz cats to believe in my musical aspirations and gave me the support and backing to make it happen. I will never forget the endless Tuesday jazz ensemble rehearsals he let me attend at Margaret Morrison 119 all throughout the 1980s. Thank you, old friend.