PROGRESSIVE MUSIC COMPANY

AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 31 YEARS

BOYS CHOIR AFRICA SHIRTS
 
 
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                                                        PITTSBURGH 3D

 

THE STRONG CARD

PITTSBURGH JAZZ

Roger Humphries

 

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.

 

WELCOME!

 

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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

Information

OBITUARIES

As our musical icons are graduating into the higher realms we want to keep them fresh in our memories.  Please join this group where you can post any obituaries of the ancestors of our tradition for all to read and learn more about them.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Members: 88
Latest Activity: Aug 27

THOUGHTS ON MORTALITY

Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides. Lao Tzu

O Death, Thou shalt not
Break my pride!
As thou art fame to do
With thy icy hands
As I am living here
With all my awakened soul
Being not connected 
To the worldly greed
I have my feet
Measured into three steps
Permanent ground 
For my celestial grave
To whom shalt thou 
Mitigate even an inch?
The space where my tombstone
Wilt be eracted with pride
Though all thy world
Whose senses work under limit
Of time and space
Feels jealous of my lot
O Death, Thou shalt greet me
As a military troop to their leader
Laughing under suppressed voice
At my crowded depature
-M.A.Rathore

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling! And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity...of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.

Discussion Forum

Obituary: Howard ‘H.B.’ Bennett / Drummer, founder of Balcony Big Band

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jul 8. 0 Replies

Jan. 6, 1954 - July 6, 2015July 8, 2015 12:00 AM…Continue

Tags: pittsburgh, jazz, network, music, drummer

Obituary: Gunther Schuller

Started by Melissa Jones Jun 22. 0 Replies

The music community lost Gunther Schuller on Sunday. Blending classical music and jazz, he coined the term Third Stream. His collaborations with John Lewis and the MJQ, were extensive and he, along…Continue

Memorial for Habiba Mathew, Soulful Jazz Singer - Widow of Baritone saxophonist/flautist Sahib Shihab

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jun 16. 0 Replies

 Memorial for Habiba Mathew, Soulful Jazz Singer…Continue

Tags: pittsburgh, church, jazz, network, singer

Ornette Coleman, Composer and Saxophonist Who Rewrote the Language of Jazz, Dies at 85

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jun 12. 0 Replies

MusicOrnette Coleman, Composer and Saxophonist Who Rewrote the Language of Jazz, Dies at 85By…Continue

Tags: jazz, pittsburgh, harmelodics, colemen, ornette

Comment Wall

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Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 27, 2015 at 12:19am

I know Art told me he met "Little Georgie Benson" when he was just a boy coming into the Encore and playing his guitar! They knew he would be a star one day because he was a child prodigy! Now look at him, not so little and in fact he recently played The Royal Albert Hall, here in London! That is stardom! lol but he played the Encore too, plenty and I remember him coming in to play while I was on shift there one night...he had just released, "Breezin'" and it was rising in the charts and he came in and played his main song, "Breezin'" which the house went crazy over. Very nice guy. I also remember Jimmy McGriff's band playing at the Encore Downtown and Kenny Karsh went out on tour with him later on.  There are so many...if I can recall anymore, will let you know but if you go to the Pgh Press or Pgh Post Gazette archived newspapers, you will find plenty of articles about the Encore and who is playing there. Lenny Litman wrote plenty of reviews too so look for his articles. I remember when Lenny would come in, Art would go crazy, to make sure he was well seen to and that Lenny would write a great review! Haha he always did anyway! But Art wanted to make sure! Ok, that is all for now. Nice chatting with you both , Michele and Dr. Harrison. :-) Let's keep Jazz alive and well in Pgh!  And all over the world! 

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 27, 2015 at 12:10am

Art managed the Encore for well over 20 years. Bobby probably the same downtown or near enough and Harold, well they called The Encore, "The House that Betters Built" because he was their nightly act! Harold made the Encore. And he left and came back and so on. The place was always packed when the bands or singers were in. And absolutely everyone who was anyone came to see them! It was THE Place to be...and then after they closed at 2:00am, there was the Gaslight around the corner on Copeland and The Hollywood Social Club or go and get an early breakfast or something at Ritter's Diner! lol we all had fun, the musicians, the staff and the customers! :-) 

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 27, 2015 at 12:03am

 This is Art Swiden from a newspaper article when he was managing the Encore. He started about 1960 ish and went on to manage it until he moved to the Encore in Florida which only lasted 2 more years. The one on Liberty Ave. known as The Encore II, which Bobby Davis usually managed but Art and he would switch once in a while so you could see either at one or the other.  I was only 20 years old in 1976 when I began working there and I was underage because really it was a bar and so you had to be 21 to work there but....I did anyway! So I know the history from being there for those 3 years and then working in Shadyside too at the Balcony after that. It was a wonderful time for music of all kinds but yes, when I was working downtown, they lined up to get into to see Sonny Stit and  Buddy Rich and so many! It was an amazing and rough place to be because there could be fights breaking out but Art being the strong hold there always made sure we were ok, his staff and the musicians! Thanks Michele Bensen. I know you sang on Harold's album. I have it. I have been in touch with his family and Harold's grandson came to stay with me and my daughter here in London. They are a great family and Harold is a true icon of Jazz! I also grew up with Kenny Karsh, his sister was my best friend so now you know and my Aunt Betty who ran the coffee houses in New York during the 1960's (The Bitter End and the Gaslight) was also shipping talent down to the Encore downtown from New York. I was surrounded! lol Jazz is so important for so many reasons.  I could talk all day about my memories but I am working on a book about it all.  One day we can hope Pittsburgh gets the true recognition and clubs like The Encore, I and II and the Balcony and what about Walt Harper's downtown and of course, the Crowford Grill all get their recognition. I think we should start that blue plaque sign like they do in England. They have a little ceremony and dedicate the plaque to those who lived there or whatever. In fact, I was in Carnaby Street not long ago and happened to look up and there on the building was a blue round plaque that read: "Here the Beatle's manager Brian Epstein lived from .... and it gave the dates. " Pretty cool! So Dr. Harrison, why don't we start doing this to mark Pittsburgh Cool Jazz History!? :-) 

Comment by Michele Bensen on August 26, 2015 at 5:27pm

Enjoyed your comments  Shawn Cohen about Art and the Encore. I have many memories of that place, of Art and especially Bobby Davis. The history needs to be spoken and written about for preservation for all of us and the young musicians coming up. Thank you for posting the video. Dr. Harrison's passion is shown on this Pittsburgh Jazz Network throughout. We are fortunate the he started this site for all of us.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 26, 2015 at 4:58am

We have been trying to wake Pittsburgh up to its rich jazz and artistic heritage for decades, hence this network.  More comments like yours would certainly help the process.  Ironically I find that there is more interest in the Steelers among the musicians than there is in the music tradition.

Perhaps you can help me remind them (especially the young-uns) that in the 60s Harold Betters was bigger than the Steelers.  It was so difficult to even give a Steeler ticket away that the Rooneys hired Harold Betters to play outside of Pitt Stadium to draw people into the the Steeler games.  People find that hard to believe but there were often no more than 5000 fans in that 60,000 seat stadium. I was there. 

People lined up 2 blocks in the snow on Walnut waiting to get in to the tiny Encore I to catch Harold's next set.  Remember?

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 25, 2015 at 12:56pm

Yes, Dr. Harrison, will do! Darryl Cann, that is right and a fabulous clarinet player he is too. I was truly awestruck to find him playing, Amazing Grace" right on Art's brick! I think that was a message for me from Art!  Darryl remembered the Encore and Art and Bobby too. I think 5505 Walnut Street, which is the exact address of the Encore but now stands the Steel Cactus Restaurant...it should have a blue commemorator plaque like we have here all over London. "Here is the spot that the greatest jazz legends performed at for over 20 years, known as The Encore"! I would really like to see that happen and Pittsburgh take pride in their past history of Jazz because it is Legend! All the best to you and your peeps here, Dr. Harrison. 

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 24, 2015 at 11:25pm

Shawn,

Your comments are truly in the spirit of this network. I encourage more members to register their memories and jazz experiences here so that the names of icons like Art and Bobby Davis will not be forgotten.  If you have any photos, please post them on your page so we can reminisce some more.  Thank you.

BTW the clarinetist is Darryl Cann... another personality making his presence felt in the 'Burgh through music.

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 24, 2015 at 2:33pm

And a little bit of magic happened when I was just home visiting that brick in Shadyside with Art's name on it. (I live in London, England but was home for a month in Pgh in July) so here is my final entry of a wonderful bit of magic! Art Swiden and the Encore style via this video.  Note the clarinet player, who is a Bell Man in his day job! Name is Darryl, check this out. Only in Shadyside!  https://youtu.be/ad-RLoVC_yE

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 24, 2015 at 1:25pm

Thank you Dr. Harrison. I hope people do see his brick there in Shadyside and think good of Art. I put that brick there in 2009 so it has been there for a while now. I have a special place in my heart for Art and he should be remembered. So many people help make Jazz music happen, not just the brilliant and talented musicians but promoters, nightclubs, music teachers, music publishers and record companies as well as the little people like me who waitressed and tended bar at the Encore and the Balcony in Pgh for a time, 1976-79...where the best jazz in the world was heard! May people remember that time as unique and as Art would say,  "an offer you can't refuse!"  By the way, Art was 6' 1" not 6'12 as it says in my other post! lol He was big man but not that big...lol  Harold Betters was born to play at the Encore too and Harold and Art were good friends and I met Billy Conn, also known as The Pittsburgh Kid as a pro boxer who boxed Joe Louis! Art knew Billy, the Steelers, like Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Green and I waited on them all at the Encore.  Everyone came to listen to the Jazz. I will never forget at the Encore II downtown watching Dizzy Gillespie's cheeks blow out while he was onstage blowing his horn! I was young and never saw him before! Many memories of many fantastic and wonderful jazz artists there, like Blossom Dearie, Chuck Mangione,  Sarah Vaughn,  Cleo Lane, Harold Betters, of course, and you name it, they were there! Thanks for letting me share my memories, Dr. Harrison. :-) Bless you and keep up the good work you do here. 

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 24, 2015 at 2:19am

Shawn,

I am so glad you added this information about Art.  You brought back many fond memories for me and I'm sure others as well.  Art was one of a kind and his special personality made Walnut Street the 'place to be.'  I'll stop by and visit his marker next time I am over there and will tell others as well.

 

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