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.
"I've never had the pleasure of hearing Teresa Hawthorne, but during my years in Pittsburgh, I became casual friends with three female singers that I believed then as now would have performed to acclaim on any stage anywhere in the world. Maybe…"
"Joining a 6-year-old discussionis odd, but I'm surprised to learn that a love of jazz got underway in the hard bop era. I think of jazz as being an aquired taste, , including accessibility and progression. Most Western ears, hearing Chinese…"
"Michele, You wouldn't remember me, but there were many many times I went to your performances to marvel at that unique and powerful voice. Once---at the Balcony I believe---I offered you a copy of Anita O'Day's biography in case the…"
"Oscar Levant was two hours late showing up for a concert at Muskingum College in the the late '40s and the students were restive and beginning to boo. An improvised stage had been set up on the basketball court. Levant walked with, as I recall,…"
"I realize that Hines, Garner, and Jamal may be considered to be in a class by themselves. However, Pittsburgh produced so many more very fine pianists---Dodo Marmarosa, Frank Cunimondo, Johnny Costa, Carl Arter, Bobby and Harry Cardillo, Reid…"
"I think I still possess 78 RPM records of both Diz and Bird from the 1940s. The first time I saw him live was when his group alternated with the Deuces Wild at the Midway Lounge on Penn Ave. downtown---probably early 50s.. Years later, Dizzy mingled…"
"Blues singer Bullmoose Jackson had a band that included both Benny Golson and Tadd Dameron. Years later, the Flashcats, a Pittsburgh group, helped Jackson rejuvenate his career. In the '40s, Bullmoose had a hit record---"I Loves You, Yes I…"
Worked in PGH for 38 years and lived on Mt. Washington for 10 years. Friend of many jazz performers---Frank Cunimondo, Michelle Bensen, Virgil Walters, Roger Humphries, Kenny Blake. Was a regular visitor to the Crawford Grill 2, Balcony, MCG, Zebra Lounge, etc.
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