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.
"August 2017Hi Friends —vocalese: a genre of jazz singing in which lyrics are written and sung tomelodies that originally were improvised instrumental jazz solosYes, there are a few earlier, one-off instances of vocalese writingand singing, but…"
TRIBUTE PAGE TO THE LATE EDDIE JEFFERSON
Born Pittsburgh August 3, 1918
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
Erroll Garner, Billy Ecstine, Tina Pratt, Dakota Staton, Nelson , Earl "Fatha" Hines, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Stanley Turrentine, Tommie Turrentine
Edgar J. "Eddie" Jefferson Born August 3 1918 PITTSBURGH PA - Tragically murdered outside "Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Detroit Michagan. May 9,
1979. CONVERSATION FROM A LIVE EDDIE JEFFERSON INTERVIEW WITH RUSTY HASSAN ON WPFW FM 89.3 WASHINGTON DC IN 1974 . ALS0 RICHIE COLE & GEORGE V JOHNSON JR."NEXT IN LINE" PRESERVED FOR HISTORICAL PURPOSES. FAN SITE ONLY! KEEP THE DREAM ALLIVE!
HOW I GOT INTO VOCALESE was for the love of the music, listening to it. Understanding it and really loving it like I say. I just heard a story. There were so many good horn players out there during the time. I couldnt get into the competition of being a horn player, so I figure Ill sing it. Its the best you can do and no one else was really doing anything along that order so I thought lyrics to be the appropriate for a lot of the solos to keep them alive a little longer. So back in the late 30s I went into this. Like 38 the Nancy Stomp, Taxi War Dance, and later on Blue in Sentimental with Hershal Evans, Lester Young on clarinet. I started doing solos for my own pleasure. I found out other people like to hear them and thats how I started out! Back before that dancing was the main thing. In my tap dancing days I danced with the old stars like the Jackie Gleason, Milton Burrel, the great Irish tenor Lanny Ross, Edith Fellows a young singer and movie star in those days that sing with Benny Goodman. I used to work with the Bob Cats, you know theater dates with Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats. Regular Vaudeville before it went out. The last of it.
Well? Moodys Mood" was an accident. My fiancee and I were around the house and we always liked that solo and I started singing there you go, there you go something and just passing words and she would come up with a word and we had a song with Moodys solo and other people used to come to the house and say will you sing us that song for us . Id go to other towns and do it and King Pleasure heard it, he learned it, recorded it and thats how it came to the publics attention. Thank you King Pleasure! I did my first session in Pittsburgh. A company called HI-LO came from New York to Pittsburgh to record because I couldnt leave Pittsburgh because my dancing business was very heavy. They came and recorded my first one. Two 78s. It was my first album with Bob Weinstock.
My association with Moody was a 17 year association. As a matter of fact Moody talked me into coming out to the public doing this style. I worked with him in the Theater. His band was backing me up as a tap dancer and I use to open with my partner Irv Taylor who incidentally was on Old Shoes. He was my dance partner for years. He could sing this stuff and we could both sing it equally. Wed both do the solos and right now I think he could sing this thing as equally as I can right now or better. Anyway Moody said come on and work with me for a minute. Cause my partner and I were going to have 2 weeks off before we went to the mountains. So I ended up. So a minute ended up 17 years with James Moody. The dancing thing was getting low anyway. Moody was a great, great player. He inspired me completely and showed me how do get deep into the music and climb into it like you put your coat on and live in it. And thats the only way you can make it. He was in Vegas at the time. To be continued...
*I don’t want to overlook Annie Ross’ pioneering vocalese contributions from the early 1950s, when she crafted original, witty lyrics to Wardell Gray’s recordings of “Twisted,” “Farmer’s Market,” and “Jackie.”
August 2017 Hi Friends — vocalese: a genre of jazz singing in which lyrics are written and sung to melodies that originally were improvised instrumental jazz solos Yes, there are a few earlier, one-off instances of vocalese writing and singing, but Eddie Jefferson is understood to have invented the genre sometime in the 1940s. (But not the word — he preferred “vocalmentals.”) Jon Hendricks, largely through his work with the trio, Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, during the 1950s and ‘60s is the genre’s most prolific exponent. And it is about time the two of them were included in any serious discussion of American song’s most important lyricists.* People always ask, “Which comes first, the words or the music?” (Sammy Cahn always answered, “The money!”) Well, Lorenz Hart wrote lyrics to Richard Rodgers’ melodies, but then Rodgers set melodies to Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics. Anyway, few lyricists ever tried to put words to music as complex as solos by James Moody or Miles Davis, or full performances by the Duke Ellington Orchestra or the Horace Silver Quintet. But that’s exactly what Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks did. Their methods were slightly different, but equally inventive. Eddie wrote in a decidedly “stream of consciousness” manner, letting the flow and the contour of a particular solo carry his imagination to wherever it might take him. Jon generally found his inspiration in the songs’ titles, often spinning them into clever threecharacter “plays” for himself, Dave Lambert, and Annie Ross. “It’s like opera,” he once mused, “except it’s bopera.” Now add to their creativity, complexity, and immense body of work one more credential: their connection to music beyond jazz. If you strip away the melody — but don’t, OK? — you can hear the roots of rap in Eddie’s lyric to James Moody’s solo on “Lester Leaps In,” retitled “I Got the Blues.” And Jon’s erudite, upbeat, life-affirming lyrics, like the one he wrote to Miles Davis’ “Four,” are echoed in the positive messages of funk hits like Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star,” Tower of Power’s “What is Hip?” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everybody Is a Star.” Poet-historian Hilaire Belloc declared, “It is the best of all trades to make songs, and the second best to sing them.” And Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks have done both with as much skill and artistry as any man or woman who ever put words to music. Stay cool, and keep list’nin’, Bob Bernotas - Just Jazz e-Newsletter