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.
"The Mad Hatters were a Pittsburgh Jazz trio formed by Billy Strayhorn in 1937. These two sides are thought to be their only surviving recordings. They were recorded at Volkwein's, here in Pittsburgh, on December 21st, 1938. They were restored…"
I was born on November 29, 2015, in Dayton, OH. My parents moved to Pittsburgh, PA when I was still an infant so I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA (Homewood-Brushton). I graduated from Westinghouse High School; moved to New York City, and spent my entire career as a lyricist, arranger, and composer for Duke Ellington.
New York Celebrates Billy Strayhorn’s Centennial With Special ‘A Train’ Ride
By Andrew R. Chow
November 27, 2015 1:00 pm November 27, 2015 1:00 p
Wynton Marsalis played "Take the A Train" on the A line in 1999. On Sunday, the song's composer, Billy Strayhorn, will be honored with another subway performance.Credit Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
All aboard the A Train! This Sunday, Jazz at Lincoln Center will celebrate the centennial of jazz great Billy Strayhorn with a series of performances — including a surprise pop-up concert on the subway that inspired Strayhorn’s most famous composition, “Take the A Train.”
The MTA will unearth an era-appropriate subway train to run on the A line for the occasion. The train’s passengers will be serenaded by the Donald Malloy Quartet and the Evan Sherman Entourage playing a medley of Strayhorn compositions, including “Take the A Train”. (Time and location of the concert will not be announced because of concerns about crowding.)
“We celebrate the centennial of Mr. Strayhorn by saluting one of the most meaningful compositions in the jazz canon, as we also salute our public transit system,” Wynton Marsalis, the trumpeter and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said in a statement.
The celebration is a collaboration between Jazz at Lincoln Center, MTA Music and the New York Transit Museum. Mr. Marsalis
Happy Centennial Birthday Billy Strayhorn. You are a Creative Genius who touched not only Duke Ellington but so many more..Thank you for your GIFT. I understand there is so much more music that is just now being discovered. How wonderful. We love you Billy.... Thank you for the joy you continue to bring to so many. From the nephew of one of your Harlem 1939 colleagues: Bill Doggett over at The Savoy Ballroom who was writing and arranging for Lucky Millinder! To Life...... Happy Birthday, Bill Doggett II
Bill Saxonis will be celebrating Billy Strayhorn’s centennial with a four hour special focusing on Strayhorn’s life with an eclectic blend of music, conversation and recorded interviews. The program will include reflections on Strayhorn from biographer DavidHajdu, musicologist Waltervan de Leur, Ellington bandmate Buster Cooper and nephew Greg Morris. Vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin will describe recording with Strayhorn and Ellington in Paris, and Willie Ruff will recount working with Strayhorn on “The Suite for Horn and Piano.” The program will air on Saturday, November 28, from 8 AM to noon (NY time) on WCDB 90.9 FM (Albany NY), and to a worldwide audience on the internet. www.wcdbfm.com
Yours are the kind of comments this network craves... true, enthusiastic and educational. Your experience as a performer/listener is fading out in the younger generation because they have been denied exposure to music being distracted by so many other more superficial options. It's not their fault at all but they have been conditioned to think that nothing older than they are is important. Yet the things they calim to enjoy the most were created by the older generations not them.
Good music never loses its value or appeal just as the sounds of nature have the same value though unchanged for eons. What Strayhorn did with 12 notes resulted in thousands of songs, most of them not yet heard. When they become part of the public repertoire will they be considered new? We will be discovering Strayhorn music for centuries to come if we survive as a species and it will always be right on time. Your presence in the audience was an inspiration to the performance because you have the ears to drink it all in.
Leave it toNelson Harrison, to put together the tribute to Billy Strayhorn thing.
Pretty much any endeavor of Dr Harrison is first class...and so rewarding, for all who are wise enough to join in. Ive never been to Westinghouse Hi. I was raised on "the Hill"...Congress St and Wylie Ave, to be exact. I got my first taste of jazz, at the Crawford Grill..at age 14. My initiation was quite by accient...just walkin' past the Grill, when I heard the sound of an Alto, from within. Sunny Stitt...and "that was it"!! Mr Robinson used to let me hang out by the men's room...just to "dig". I was hooked from the very first...an have spent the rest of my life...just digging jazz...be-bop to be exact.
Well, just last Saturday I got another taste....of great music...all because Nelson Harrison..like Mr Robinson, tendered an invitation..which I was wise enough to accept. I'd known of Strayhorn's collaboration with the Duke...but not the extent I heard at Westinghouse Hi.
From the very first offering, I knew I was gonna experience something very special. I mean, I was really floored by the simply gorgeous compositions of Strayhorn.
I felt completely "at home"...and so comfortable. I'm tellin' you...I was totally moved...and intoxicated..by the chord changes...the level of emotion this music heaped on me. This stuff belongs right up there with Gershwin and the most touching pieces ever written by an American, DAYREAM! What a tune! Im a vocalist..out of the Sinatra/Mark Murphy school. You'd better have really good ears...and a real reverence..if you're gonna attempt..Daydream, I thought.
Well, I could write several pages, but I'll conclude by congratulating the Strayhorn family, which was in attendance. You should be so proud. I wanted to just tell them how I felt. Driving home I was humming a couple of Strayhorn's works. I'll certainly include them in future gigs.
Thanks Nelson for the invitation...and...EDUCATION!!
Nelson E. Harrison ! Congratulations on making it happen! Just a wonderful wonderful show at Westinghouse High School last night! A beautiful tribute to Billy Strayhorn. How about six outstanding pianist geniuses in a row, how about that. Professor Geri Allen! Dr. James T. Johnson Jr.! Duke Spaulding! Howard Alexander ! Frank Cunimondo! Kenny Peagler! This is like the Yankees' murderers' row. Boom. Home run it's outta there from Vanessa German, too. I could go on... --- Roger Day
I can only thank you..for thinking enough of my taste in music, that you'd invite me to the Strayhorn event. I cant remember a more enjoyable night. I felt completely at home...and dug the music of Strayhorn....soooo much. I really dig writers like Mat Dennis and of course Gershwin...and this Strayhorn belongs right up there with them...no jive. And...it took a guy like NelsonHarrison to introduce...and remind people of the level of excellence...presented. You have much to be proud of....and I mean....all your people. Thanks again, and keep me in mind in future...Donny Cerminara