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.
Sept. 17 Joel Woller (History Department, Carlow University) Politics as Personal Expression in Jazz Performance: Nina Simone in Concert, 1965 Oct. 1 Timothy Williams (Music Librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh) Jazz History Detective: True Stories From the Pittsburgh Files Oct. 15 Erik Lawrence (Saxophonist, Composer, Educator) Songs That Inspired Me to Soar Nov. 5 Mike Canton (Host and Producer, The Soul Show –WYEP 91.3fm) Jazz is the Teacher, Funk is the Preacher Nov. 19 …See More
"I can remember in 1963, I was 16 yr. and playing with a local band called, "Little Willie Beck & The Crossfires. We were offered a spot at The Stanley Theater as the opening act for Lee Dorsey, Derek Martin and I think…"
"I played with Jow Westray from 1962 until his death in 1980 upon which I was a pallbearer. I played with multiple other bands during that period but was always a first call from Joe if I was available. He was a great musician, leader,…"
I created the Pittsburgh Jazz Musicians page for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh which must be constantly added to because so many great jazz musicians have Pittsburgh connections! Recently I created an enormous web page about 1940s-50s big band singer Eugenie Baird, originally from Brookline: http://www.carnegielibrary.org/research/music/pittsburgh/eugeniebai...