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.
MARY LOU WILLIAMS
CHRISTOPHER DEAN SULLIVAN
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
THE CRAWFORD GRILL
THE FOX CAFE
THE HI HAT
THE PYRAMID LOUNGE
MY BROTHER, KENNY MCGEE FIRST TAUGHT ME HOW TO PLAY GUITAR AT TWEVLE YEARS OLD.
SEVEN MONTHS LATER, WILLIAM HERDON, OF GEORGE BENSON AND THE ALTAIRS DISCOVERED ME PLAYING A GUITAR WITH TWO MISSING/BROKEN STRINGS ON MY FRONT PORCH. HE GAVE ME MY FIRST PROFESSIONAL JOB AS GEORGE BENSON'S REPLACEMENT.
AT FOURTEEN I DID MY FIRST JAZZ GIG WITH EVELYN CHILDRESS,
I GOT THE CALL TO PLAY WITH MARY LOU WILLIAMS, BUT MY MOTHER INSISTED I STAY IN SCHOOL. AT FIFTHTEEN I PLAYED WITH ALAN BLAIRMAN AT THE SENATE CAFE ON FIFTH AVENUE.
ONE YEAR LATER BOBBY WATLEY LET ME PLAY SOMEONE ELSES GUITAR WHILE HE WAS SETTING UP HIS DRUMS AT AN IMPRESSIONS UNFORGETABLE
CONCERT. HE GAVE ME MY FIRST JOB PLAYING ON THE ROAD WITH HIM AND WINSTON WALLS(ORGANIST).
FOUR YEARS LATER I SET IN ON MELVIN SPARKS WITH LONNIE SMITH AT THE HURRICANE BAR ON CENTER AVENUE.
LONNIE GAVE ME MY FIRST JOB RECORDING FOR A MAJOR JAZZ RECORD LABEL(BLUE NOTE RECORDS).
AFTER SEVERAL YEARS ON THE THE ROAD I RETURNED HOME TO FORM MY OWN LOCAL GROUPS. AFTER OBTAINING A ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE IN BUSINESS MANAGEMENT, I RELOCATED TO LOS ANGELES, CA. TO FORM A SONGWRITING-PUBLISHING/PRODUCTION PARTNERSHIP WITH JOSEPH CACCAMISE JR. MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT "GEORGE BENSON CALLED ME AFTER HE RECORDED BREEZIN IN 1976 TO PLAY IN HIS BAND". THE PICTURE WITH HIM AND I TOGETHER , IS THAT DAY WHEN HE CAME AND GOT ME!
Butch, Man, it is great to see you. George Green and I were discussing you, then his younger brother Robert and I were going down memory lane. If you have any recordings let's us know. I have that Lonnie Smith on wax, now I've got to pull it out. My brother, the best to you.
Hello Larry. I gave Nathan Davis your phone number a while back. Did you all ever connect? I played with Mark Whitfield at the 2009 University of Pittsburgh's Spring Concert. So much to catch up on.... please keep in touch.
I would love to feature "you" as my guest on my show..If I am not your friend..please add me...also please call me @ the offc at 757 538 3540...757 971 3733 for details...click on the banner below to be a guest...JB