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.
To paraphrase from the title of a vintage jazz ballad, "It Was a Beautiful Three Days in August," when singer/songwriter Marilyn Scott fulfilled her long-held dream of recording an acoustic jazz album in New York City the way the legends used to do it - with the singer and musicians all cutting and working out arrangements together in the studio. Christened Every Time We Say Goodbye, the album is a dreamy throwback to a purer aesthetic that marks the 30th anniversary of Ms. Scott's impressively eclectic recording career - one in which she has successfully sung soul, pop, smooth jazz, adult contemporary and music for motion pictures. However, anyone who has listened to her CDs knows that jazz has been a prominent part of the foundation of her artistic architecture. So much so that she is the only vocalist in the history of Billboard magazine to have two different albums charting on the Contemporary Jazz and Traditional Jazz charts - simultaneously.
Now on Every Time We Say Goodbye, Marilyn Scott is taking her love for jazz to new heights with a seasoned East Coast quintet led by acclaimed pianist Cyrus Chestnut, produced for the Japan-based Venus Records imprint by label president Tetsuo Hara and veteran jazz musician/producer Todd Barkan - his partner of 15 years. The 10-song repertoire is comprised of smoky wee hours standards such as the Cole Porter-penned title track, a Rio-kissed samba take on Irving Berlin's "I Got Lost in His Arms" and a blues walk through "Detour Ahead." The arrangements offer fresh nuances to familiar favorites as do Marilyn's artful and articulate vocal interpretations.
The process of how Every Time We Say Goodbye was created was a swift and surprise-filled one. "Todd called me in June of 2007 and asked if I'd be interested in doing something for Venus," Ms. Scott recalls. "The company was looking to do more vocal projects." Barkan - whose esteemed resume includes production for jazz vocal greats such as Jimmy Scott, Gloria Lynne, Freddy Cole and Vanessa Rubin, as well as Venus' own Barbara Carroll and Simone Kopmajer - adds, "A year ago Mr. Hara asked me to send him demo materials on a bunch of singers to see what resonated with him and the Japanese market. I first became aware of Marilyn through a neighbor of mine - an amateur music enthusiast with whom I'm constantly sharing new music. Though Marilyn's musical style was not the idiom I normally work in, she had a resonance and timbre in her voice that I felt would sound wonderful within a straight ahead jazz framework. Mr. Hara and I both felt strongly about this, so we reached out to her."
It was Barkan who hand-picked Ms. Scott's enviable quintet of pianist Cyrus Chestnut, reed man Ken Peplowski, guitarist Paul Bollenback, bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Willie Jones III. "I got the guys I felt could go where she wants to go but maintain the Venus straight ahead jazz sound," Barkan explains. "Bringing Marilyn to the east was a great idea. It helped meld her musical expression into more of a New York state of mind."
I've been a fan of yours since I bought your first record and I have all the rest too! Your are a very special talent. I had a gig the night you were in Pittsburgh and was sorry to have missed seeing and hearing you live. I know it was a treat for many Pittsburghers. I really love your choice of material and your originals are outstanding. Your ability to choose the right musicians for your projects are stellar! Would love to meet you some day. Keep on bringing us your wonderful gift of music.
A Real Fan,
Hello Marilyn Scott. You render ballads in a style after my own heart. I love the way you string out a word and put musicality into the consonants as well as the vowels-- a rare thing. I like the balance you strike between emotion and technique, and wow! what a band to play with!
What a treat to hear you. You are definitely a jazz singer mostly because your style is totally unpretentious. You just swing with the musicians, caressing the melody and holding your own. Very easy and pleasant listening that bears repeating. Thank you so much for joining and sharing your gifts with us.
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