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.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh
Father had the first recording studio (1935) and made the first recordings for Errol Garner, Billy Strahorn, Eddie Jefferson, George Benson, and many great R & B Groups such as the El Capris, Del Vikings, Marcells, El Venos etc. My father also provided Hammond Organs to the Hurricane Bar and the Rendezvous Lounge for a most reasonable rental digit. Grew up hearing many great artists in his studio and got to hear some mighty deep organ groups from the mid 1960's on by helping move the Organ and Leslie into those clubs,
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
Marylou Williams, Errol Garner, Sonny Clark, Ahmad Jamal, Michael "Dodo"
Marmarosa, Max Leake, Don DePaolis, "Sugarcane" David Budway, Donna Davis, Tim Jenkins, Alton Merrell, "Rabbit" Barnes, Dicky Lillie, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Joe Harris, J.C. Moses, Beaver Harris, John Mosley, Billy James, George Jones, Roger Humphries, Norman (Greg) Humphries, James Johnson III (and his mom and dad) Tom Wendt, Jerry Betters, Ray Brown, Chris Sullivan, Bobby Boswell, Mike Taylor, Dwayne Dolphin, Jeff Grubbs, Ernest McCarty, Paul Thompson, George Benson, Jimmy Ponder, Larry McGee, Luther DeJarunett, Mark Strickland, Eric Johnson, Eric Susoeff, Mark Lucas, Larry O'Brien, Kenny Fisher, Lou Stellute, Tony Campbell, Cris Hemingway, Curtis Johnson, Frank Mala, Joe Dallas, Danny Conn, Sean Jones, James Moore, Pete Henderson, Chuck Austin, Ron Tucker, Carl Arter, Count Cozy Harris, Sugercane, Yusef Nafees, Emmitt Goods, Brett Williams, Miles Jackson, George Heid III, Anton DeFade, Clayton Powell, Julian Powell, Bill Heid.... any many more.
CJ's Supper Club, the last one left ... Crawford Grill, (gone) Hurricane Bar (gone) Rendezvous Lounge (gone) Blue Falls (gone) Tigers Tail Lounge (gone) Eileen's Zebra Room (gone) Too Sweet (gone) James Street (gone) Balcony (gone) Dizzy's (gone)) .... Hopefully, a great room will still happen and real soon.
It's been a privilege to have heard the great music called Jazz and more privileged to have been blessed to play with such monumental souls like Mike Taylor, Dwayne Dolphin, Dave Budway, Sonny Barbato, Jimmy Ponder and my brother Bill Heid.
Greetings George, I appriciate your compliments and support of our work. I am listening to the tribute to Freddie Hubbard and looking at the discography list you sent out. VERY IMPRESIVE! It shows how serious a young man can be. Learning and doing at the same time, all the while having BIG FUN. Give me a call. Be blessed, Mensah
Hey brother, how have you been? It has been too many years to call the dates and places but our paths use to cross often back in the 'day'.. I was doing a lot of work with THE MEMORIES & MARCELS back then. And use to hang with Ritchie Merritt, John "Saber" and others when out paths use to cross. So nice to hear from you again. It sure was fun to see your photos and list of performers. They broght back a lot memories....Bill Powell, Sir Walter, Chris Sullivan, 'Sugar' Cane and etc. - Peace - Jerry Mellix