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.
I Lived in PGH from 1982 to 1991. Even though I now live in beautiful Somerset County, I get into Pittsburgh on a regular basis to gig, visit, sometimes record and always take in the scene.
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
Over the last five years or so I've been fortunate enough to play with Don Aliquo, Ken Powell, Paul Thompson, Mark Perna, Eric DeFade, The Newlanders, Chris Laitta, Ben Opie, Jeff Berman, Douglas Levine, Roger Day, Eric Suesoff and some many other wonderful players and singers. Blasts from the past include The Pitt Jazz Band with Nathan Davis, Dave Harger, Dave Brown, Lee Robinson, Bill Maruca, The Flying Cunninghams, Dale Cinski and many others. Although I've never played with them, I love listening to Roger Humphries, Joe Negri, Etta Cox, Dwayne Dolphin, Poogie Bell... too many too list!
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
It used to be the Balcony, James Street and Dowe's on 9th. Seems like we've lost a lot of good places to gig. Now MCG of course, Gullifty's is cool, the new Crawford, and some of the great jam sessions.
Don't believe the picture. I'm best at drums and percussion, especially kit playing. By day I'm a teacher, educational consultant and sometimes writer. I've produced six of my own singer-songwriter CDs and I've done a small bit of composing. Some of my songs have won contests and awards. Right now I play jazz whenever I can, sometimes rock and roll, sometimes shows at a summer stock theater. I also sing with an a cappella quintet and play guitar. I used to play all the time, but now not as much. I've played with many way talented players and I'm thankful for that.