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.
"After Pitt football games, I'd go to the Encore in Shadyside to hear Harold Betters in a packed house. John Hughes was with him the. In the Eighties, he was playing with Jerry in his Crescendo Lounge, that unforgettable slightly seedy jazz club…"
"When the Georgetown Inn fouled up my guaranteed reservation, they nailed the last available room at the nearby Dutch Georgetown Hotel for me. It was the top-floor suite at no extra cost. When I got off the elevator, there was Diz, standing alone…"
"If only Dodo Marmarosa had been in one of his more stable emotional periods, enabling him to join Mary Lou Williams and these other great talents for this concert and the recording! And thanks, Dr. Nelson for listing the Charles Bell recordings. I…"
"One of the explanations I have given to friends who don't understand the appeal jazz has for me is this; If 6 jazz musicians (piano, bass, drums, guitar, tenor, horn) who never met each other show up in a club and are asked to play, one…"
"In 1965, Mary Lou Williams, Earl Fatha' Hines, Duke Ellington, Billy Taylor, Charles Bell, and others performed a jazz concert in Pittsburgh. Mosaic has released an extended version of a vinyl recording called "The Jazz Piano". Duke…"
"Please forgive me for nitpicking in the midst of tributes to A.W., but I don't think the man who had spent days in the library rather than the classroom would have ever said "The Ground On Which I Stand On." How did that happen?"
"Corrections: My 89-year-old memory betrayed me. August Wilson saw six Japanese men having breakfast in a bus station restaurant and imagined how different six black men would have acted. . But the important correction is that Wilson told Bill Moyers…"
"August Wilson's plays reveal his strong awareness of how vital the blues and jazz have been to the African-American experience. The version I heard was that the sound of a Bessie Smith record coming from a place on the Hill spurred him to…"
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.
Artist or Fan
Comment Wall (1 comment)
You need to be a member of Pittsburgh Jazz Network to add comments!
Michele with one L here! It's just by chance that I logged onto this site and you saw what I posted about my dear friend. Thank you so much for your very kind words. It's been a sad week so far. Chris and I had worked together for over 20 years here in Pittsburgh. I haven't been singing much. 2017 was very slow and I don't have any gigs for 2018 yet. I'm still writing and creating and hoping to feel better health wise. Would love to catch up with you at some point. Wishing you all the best, Michele Bensen