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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.

 

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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

Dave Cook - drums, Wendell Byrd - Hammond B3 Organ

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If anyone has photos or articles of Wendell Byrd please email me at cdunn@tonerplussolutions.com

I Played guitar with Wendell at the LOFT LOUNGE on Homewood AVE, in Pittsburgh, I don't have any pictures, but i have lots of personal information. Ronny Wingfield.

Hey Ronald
John Papi I guess we both knew and loved Wendell, I was just talking to Jack Pettit Guitarest that also played with Wendell on the road a long time ago, and he had a ton of story about Wendell And all great ones..Check out my site ,there a lot Wendell showed me.. God Bless John Papi
John,
Thanks for your response.
I would appreciate any stories or pictures that you can provide me.

Charles

Yes Ronnie,

I remember when you played with Wendell at the Loft. In fact you were in his last group before he was killed is it not? Your stories are very important to keeping his legacy alive. That's what we're trying to do on this network so that the world will know the real truth.

Dr. Nelson,
If you are ever in Las Vegas, look me up.

Hi Lonnie,

Please contact me 702-210-6682

Charles,

Your discussion is a very important one for this network and I hope others weigh in on it. I grew up with the Byrd brothers and we were all close as family. Jerry and I were in kindergarten together and we started our professional musical careers in the same band, playing our first night club together in 1954 and joining the musicians union together at 15 years of age. Actually Jerry was a few months my elder and had just turned 16 the week before. Since I was the bandleader, I just let them assume that he was the younger of us.

Perry was a wonderful baritone singer who preferred to sing religious music which made their father, Rev. Byrd very happy. Rev. Byrd was never too thrilled about Wendell and Jerry playing all that jazz. Jerry got his first guitar in 5th grade and the first song he learned was "Home on the Range" by Gene Autry. When Wendell was about 12 or 13 he studied piano from a teacher who lived on the hill behind our house. We could hear his lessons while we were out playing cowboys or throwing ball. I'll never forget the first concert he play at our house for the family. He played and sang "Bald Head" by Professor Longhair and we laughed all day. I didn't learn until 20 years later where he got that song and that Professor Longhair's real name was Henry Rowland Byrd. Somehow much of the R & B we heard on the radio in the 40s - early 50s was New Orleans R & B (Fats Domino, etc.)

I have about an hour of Wendell's playing on tape in my archive. He formed the Wendell Byrd Quartet in 1971 featuring Jerry - guitar, Tom Soisson - drums and me on trombone. We played the Crawford Grill, the Hurricane, the Florentine, Checkers in Market Square and a few other rooms in the Burgh. I really wish I had a tape of his classic version of Ebb Tide. No one on earth ever played it better than that. And most people would not believe that he played like he did backward and with his feet like you said but it's all true.

Perry died, I believe, even before Wendell was killed.

Jerry left Freddie Cole and moved to Thailand last year. I'm hoping to get him to join us here on the network. There is a picture of Wendell & Jerry in the Teenie Harris Collection playing at the Crawford Grill as part of the Rahsaan Roland Kirk Quartet.

Jerry and I were mentored by the great Judge Warren Watson when he was a law student. He always returned to the well when he was in town. (see below)

I have a Wendell Byrd 45 that was made in Arizona (if my memory serves me correct). I've showed it to Nelson before. Unfortunately it's pretty beat up and it doesn't play very well, but I can provide you with a label scan. It's the only copy that I've ever come across.
There's actually a scan of it on the current Interval flier. Top right corner.
I looked at a picture of the Interval Flier on the internet but couldn't make out most of the the print on the label. The Record label name appears to be Davanna. I am guessing that the record is actually credited to the Wendell Byrd - Dave Cook Duo. Is that correct?
And what are the song titles and the Davanna catalog number? I have had this one on my want list for awhile but have been lacking the details that I just inquired about. The late Jazz organist Winston Walls, who I managed for many years and who was from my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia, played in Pittsburgh a lot in the 1960's and 70's and later told me stories about Wendell's incredible playing and showmanship. I have had a fascination with Wendell ever since and would love to find a copy of this 45.
Hi J,
A label scan would be great.

Thanks

Charles

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