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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

The Future of the Jazz Industry

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The Future of the Jazz Industry

I started this group because I am curious as to what your thoughts are on: the main problems facing the industry, what you think can be done to resolve these problems, and what actions can be taken to ensure a flourishing future for jazz music.

Location: Pittsburgh
Members: 64
Latest Activity: Jun 3, 2013

Discussion Forum

New York: Free Jazz and the Avant-Garde

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Kevin Hurst, Sr. Nov 29, 2012. 2 Replies

AMANDA PALMER - PAY THE BAND

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Sep 16, 2012. 0 Replies

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Comment by Don Cerminara on August 23, 2011 at 11:15am

  I dont question the beliefs...of what constitutes the art form called jazz..the beliefs of well intentioned listeners, and lovers of what we call...music...what we call jazz.  But ones "beliefs", regardless of how well intentioned...just do not make those beliefs...valid...or true.  Just because  certain animals are referred to as beasts of burden..that doesnt make a donkey a plow horse.  Not to disparedge a Bulgarian who loves Tschiakowsi, but  bringin' Johnny Cash records, back to Bucharest, playin' it over the airwaves, and calling it Tschiakowski...doesnt make it so.  A "lame argument", you might suggest?  Perhaps, but you can blame my inadequacies of explanation.  Put the argument in more capable hands, and it would become more crystal clear.  Wynton Kelly couldnt take a Frank Yankovich tune...blow in on the keyboard...and call it Jazz.  Nor should he.  Music is what it is.  If country, OK, it's....Sons of the Pioneers  ,wth Ernest Tubb in the lead.  Whats the problem?  Why is Funk or Fusion represented as jazz?  It is what it is.  Just ask John Faddis if the music of Garth Brooks, can be construed as jazz.  Could the music of Wayne King or Guy Lombardo be construed as Basie or Ellington?

   A music lover can call WHAT HE LIKES, WHATEVER HE DESIRES.  iT DOESNT MAKE IT SO.  I mean Joe Williams or Mark Murphy are not PAVAROTTI>  Its simple to me.  Like what you like.  Defend, if you must, what it is...just dont make it broader, or more narrow, than what it is.

   A lover of Bach...or Felix Slatkin..should be referred to as such.  It simply is not other than what it is.  It aint a Paul Desmond tune!

   So, if you dig  Frank Rosolino, or Philly Joe, just dont prostitute it...as something it is not.  One can argue Who's better...Buddy Rich or any other big band percussionist...but please, dont add  the Beatle's "time-keeper "(??)...into the mix!

   My apologies...I have digressed a few times into WHO IS BETTER THAN WHOM!  BUT JUST A SENTENCE OR TWO MORE, iF YOU'LL ALLOW.

  THERE'S A CERTAIN INTANGIBLE ...A CERTAIN FEEL...A CERTAIN, FLIRTING WITH A CHORD PROGRESSION...A CERTAIN EXCURSION WITH A SOLO...THAT IS INDIGINOUS WITH WHAT WE CALL JAZZ.  A funk or fusion musician just aint THERE...he's someplace else.  Let him be THERE...let Parker and Coltrane be where they are!

   Donny Cerminara...The be-bop fanatic

 

   

 

Comment by Rev. Dr. Bobby Fulton, Ph.D. on August 23, 2011 at 7:34am

Greetings All! 

Recently, I responded to comments from one of the members of this conversational group.   I don't know if my remarks became a part of this conversation or not.   However, having been blessed to be around numerous musicians (instrumentalists and singers) of several and various abilities, I learned to appreciate and respect many genres of music, along with the talented people who teach and play the music.   If I may, I would like to begin my comments by what I would like to say is a jazzed up description of various types of music.   It will be okay, if this gets me into some trouble because of my inclusion of a little banter and jest, due to my thinking on our topic.   First of all, I'm not claiming to be some authority on Jazz but I've been giving our topic a great deal of thought for a long time, and what I come up with is that the different categories of music (to picture the distinctions) is this:  most all of music has common origins around the heartbeat (if I might be a little spiritual and give credit where credit is due).  Some may call it some other kind of beat.   Whatever the beat or origins that you might want to attach to music, it is music popped-up, music blued-up, music countryed-up, music rocked-up, music jazzed-up, music gospeled-up, music spirited-up, music classed-up, and some folk have even termed it various other kinds of upped.    Whatever,  this is what I would like to say to begin with.  Secondly, I believe that music jazzed-up can endure and grow if musicians who play and create jazz to music also accept what I also believe about jazz, and that is (i.e) as jazz musicians embellish and add its various colors to the music with its unique arrangements and improvisations that, even moreso, you or we accept the challenge that our lifestyles should improve commensurately (having the same or similar measurements), likened to other disciplines that improve ones way of life.   Another attribute that I noticed when listening to many of the greater legends of Jazz was that was that their music somehow never lost its connection with the soul or heartbeats of the listeners.   Even the most abstract of the of the legends, somehow,  found a way to bring the music back home, meaning to touch the heart and soul of their listeners.  The greater challenge, however, is to produce the new jazz that will come forth from the new mindset.      This is just my humble contribution to the conversation.  I am, however, interested in hearing some jazz music that I can release, promote and distribute under my independent "Music of Pittsburgh" Jazz label division.   That is how much I believe in "the Future of Jazz" and what my intentions are to support my beliefs.  Even the Legends of Jazz demonstrated holding on to the old foundations while bringing forth something new.   I welcome any feedback, and, again, I thank you Dr. Nelson Harrison for establishing this forum and this site, and for being "the Minister of Jazz."

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 23, 2011 at 2:14am
What is Jazz Anyway? ... Part 1 .
Monday, 15 August 2011 22:12 Jonathan Martin .Jazz continues to escape and evade any sort of comprehensive definition. From the very beginning to today people haven't been able to pin-point what it is that makes Jazz music Jazz.

This has been the topic of discussion all the way from bar stools long forgotten to coffee shop bistro tables; all the way up through complete doctoral dissertations dedicated to defining Jazz.

While Jazz is considered a genre of music. It continually disappoints people who have their own expectations of what Jazz should sound like. I used to be really frustrated after buying a CD that I thought was going to be straight-ahead Jazz, and it turned out to be some variation of Funk or Fusion. All considered Jazz, but different flavors.

As a result, I chose not to buy albums I hadn't already heard. It was a quesstion of economics. I don't have money to spend on music I may not like, and I don't know anyone else who does either.

So, here we see highlighted the problem that Jazz musicians run into time and again. We try to be different, to be original. But, potential fans just don't buy if they don't know what to expect from us.

Every artist has their concept of the music that they want to convey, and they try to be unique with their own "voice". Unless they copy the style of another artist. Let's face it, lot's of Jazz players, even today, try to speak with Miles Davis' or John Coltrane's "voice".

It used to be called "the truly American art form". But, that is no longer the case. Today Jazz is practiced worldwide in every country that has musical instruments. And, each musician in each country uses Jazz and mixes it with their knowledge of their own music to create something unique.

So, there is the real secret to Jazz.

The secret that Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and all the other great Jazz musicians and composers knew.

Jazz is a modifier. It is the secret sauce you add to your own music that makes it better.



Come back for Part II when we talk about the very beginning of Jazz, and uncover the origins of the
Jazz concept ...

How do you define Jazz? What makes music Jazz? Tell us in the Comments below.
Comment by Little E's Jazz Club on July 18, 2011 at 9:13pm
Thank you!!!
Comment by Annie Sutton on July 18, 2011 at 7:57pm
To Little E's Jazz Club:    <3  <3  <3 
I love Little E's!!! I hear your frustration. Please accept my sincere apology for not banging your drum in the middle of my whine. Little E's is a most deserving establishment. Real LIVE music being made by real LIVE people in a delightful atmosphere. I've been there 5 or 6 times and thoroughly enjoyed myself; except for this past July 1 when Bill Heid's gig was cancelled due to technical difficulties. (The best laid plans, etc. I'm whining again.)

I definitely avail myself of Little E's booking savvy as a means of introduction to bright young musicians. (IMO, both singers and players are musicians. Little E's books some very talented vocalists as well as players.)

I've thought about coming to one of your Thursday Night Entrepeneur gatherings but, since I'm retired and don't sing anymore, thought perhaps the space would be better utilized by someone younger and more ambitious. (I'm not ambitious anymore; just opinionated.)

And speaking of opinions, I'm about to share another one of mine with this group. IMHO, people would better serve the Pittsburgh Jazz Scene by investing their energy in supporting an existing establishment, one like Little E's, rather than lobbying for the resuscitation of the Crawford Grill. (May it RIP; I lied my way in when I was 17 to hear Kenny Burrell.)

Thank you, Little E's, and keep up the good work.
Comment by Little E's Jazz Club on July 15, 2011 at 8:31pm
Reading through some of these comments, I appreciate all the views people have.  But as a Club owner that is and has been dedicated to live music 4 nights per week, the biggest obstacle is the Jazz community in itself.  All I hear is people tell me, "I support jazz"  and I ask the how?  The respond with I listen to it on 90.5 FM all the time.  Well listening and supporting are two different thigs.  We offer a variety of musicians, old and new.  We bring a great blend of sounds.  Is it to much to ask if you are going to come and enjoy a no cover show that you can spend $10.00?  You want live music in a great room we have it.  You tell me where else you can go for $10-12.00 and enjoy some good food and great music???  It is here Pittsburgh it has been for three years.
Comment by Annie Sutton on July 15, 2011 at 5:34pm
Came to this thread rather late in the game. One thing i noticed about the MAJORITY of the comments: they are focused on the past. I'm 65 years old and, although I appreciate the historical significance of it, I'm kind of tired of Bebop. I cut my teeth on big band and swing as well as Doo-Wop and Motown. It's all part of the library / vocabulary but I listen to it only occassionnally. I don't want to linger over Satchmo anymore than I do Elvis. Play something new, already! Tell me who mentored Bill Heid, Sean Jones, Marcus Miller, Dwayne Dolphin, Howie Alexander. I studied jazz history in college. It was great, but its the past. Music is a living, breathing thing and jazz more so than some other genres because of the improvisational element. The new shit is out there, people. The new players are out there. I believe we should start listening to them with the fresh ears they deserve. Hopefully, they will do their due diligence and be informed by the past masters. BUT, if some hick comes up out of the swamp who's never heard of Coltrane but can blow outrageous tenor, I want to hear it. As a musical form jazz is a mere infant, and it sounds to me like y'all have relegated it to a nursing home.
Comment by Don Cerminara on December 28, 2010 at 1:43am
i doubt it.  Rock 'n Roll did it in.  Yuh gotta listen to jazz.  Its requires ones attn.  Truthfully, its a little "over the listening public's head".  Rock???  it hits you over the head.  you've heard Presley.  nuthin' much there.  take away  the rhine-tone costumes and what d'y have?  You're not gonna hear Gershwin, or Porter or Mercer...need I go n?  Could Presley blo guitar?  but it sold.  thats  the operative word...it sold!  Country western...ever heard any of them play guitar?  They dont have to...people love country.  im not bum-rappin it; im just callin it the way I see (hear) it.  Pass, Benson, Hall and 5 doz others could play guitay.  It rarely sold  Too heavy.  Coltrane, Peterson Blakey???  Nah, people wont invest the time to "dig"!  Blakey was an abberation.  He had probably the best and the most great 4-5 man groups of anyone...thank God!  You wanna hear Johnny cash?  You and I dont..but, we're in the minority.  If the "Grill" ever opens, I'll be there!  I was born and raised on Congress and Wylie Ave.  I heard some great great musicians up there.  guys cant afford to "go on the road" today.  cant even make expenses.  we've got some fine players right here in Pgh.  Humphries on Thurs nites.  Little E Club, w/ Sean Jones.  Nelson Harrison just carrying on the tradition..blowin here and there.  Nah...Rap is in.  Who listens to basie or any of a doz great big bands of the past.  About all we can do, is go out and support the guys we have in twn.  They're still out there..carrying on a great music tradition..bless 'em.  The least we can do, Is follow 'em around and DIG... and remember the past.Buy the cd s.  art farmer, Dizzy, Ellington and on and on and on.  It was a time of genius...today???  MEDIOCRICTY...AT THE VERY BEST!!!  I know..I sound bitter.  Nah...I just miss it so.  But, I had the best of it.  There's a lot of people around today, who were NEVER even exposed to the giants of the past!!.......
Donny C    jazzdon13@verizon.net
Comment by Ricco J.L.Martello on October 9, 2010 at 12:07am
Hey check out the story I wrote on Roy Ayers and Tom Brown
http://www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com/index.php?option=com_cont...
Comment by Kevin Hurst, Sr. on July 2, 2010 at 5:16pm
Jazz not even mentioning bebop was never for everybody but was community based. A 54yr old african -american who started a blue jazz society told me when she was young OLD folks listened to Jazz. She also said jazz is INSTRUMENTAL, singing and dancing is POP. What did Billy Eckstine and Gregory Hines do? Bebop was the Start of modern music and is the basis for studio musicians , Motown, Philly International etc. I know electric bass players who can play or learn ANY Motown bass line but they can not play JAZZ. Calculus is one of the newer maths to come down the pike and it is 200 yrs old! Jazz musicians invented the Motown Sound, all the studios employed good musicians. I grew up playing funk, soul, then gospel in the black community and the better we got at doing it the less money we made. Jazz cats played Polkas, Standards, blues, did 10 times as many gigs with less equipment and over head. Today there are no black trumpet played from the 70s funk bands I played in who still play in my town. I am the only sax player who still plays because of study, practice and a committment to jazz and blues. Guru was a great artist, Rap/spoken word etc. are all viable but Max Roach said most Rappers are not in the music department but the Drama or Poetry department. In Europe DaVinci, Michaelangeloetc. were before musicians and suffered first. Music was not the backbone of the arts. In USA music is the backbone of the arts because of slavery, no other art form, sport documented the black experience from the start. Today there still is a chasm between music and 'the arts'. Music programs in USA were watered down and dismantled starting in the 50s, luckily a lot of folks thought music was still important just as a lot of attitudes after the Rosa Parks decision did not change. When I took clarinet lessons in grade school (1966)there was a sax, drum, trumpet etc. a group lesson. They were fun but not that good. The chitlin circuit which groomed black entertainers was on it's last leg. Miles Davis was mentored by Clark terry in Stl. and was 2 yrs youinger. Does Wynton Marsalis have a mentor who is less than 5 yrs older? Tony Campbell ? Freddie Hubbard was 20 yrs older than Wynton what about Woody Shaw? Look at the movie 'TAP.
 

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