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.
"The younger jazz pianists on the current jazz scene today such as Eric Reed, Diana Krall, Jason Moran and Jackie Terrasson (as well as others) all owe Ahmad Jamal a debt of gratitude. If you listen to their pianistic phrasing, you can hear…"
I was born into a jazz family in the wonderfully innovative city of Pittsburgh. All Pittsburgh jazz Lovers would know the name of my Dad - Walt Harper, the pianist and nightclub owner. There were also two other musical brothers - Nate Harper, saxophonist and Ernie Harper, Chicago based pianist. I've lived my entire adult life in New York and living here has only intensified my awareness and appreciation of the greatness of the legends of jazz from Pittsburgh.
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
There are so many musicians from Pittsburgh that are brilliant. But, I'd have to say some of my favorites are: Ahmad Jamal, Geore Benson, Erroll Garner and of course my Dad - Walt Harper.. I also love the way Nelson Harrison plays.
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
I'm nostalgic. My favorite Pittburgh Jazz venue of all time was Walt Harper's Attic!
Here in New York, my production company has been "trumpeting" the notion of the Jazz geniuses from Pittsburgh for years. An ongoing project that I'm producing is my film documentary/book: "Jazzsplash: It Must Have Been Something In the Water" which is all about the Jazz genuises who have emerged from the steel city to make a splash on the world scene. I also speak on the topic at colleges, organizations, corporate gatherings, special events and everywhere that I think the word should be spread. Check out my website!
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
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