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.
cLARA wARD, mARTHE gRAHAM,willie nelson,chet atkins,
Favorite Jazz Radio or media station
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
Artist: Royal Jones
CD: A Dear in the Headlights
Home: New York City
Quote: "It would be classy enough for the Upper East Side, if Mr. Jones would just put on a tux and behave himself. Fortunately for all of us, he doesn’t."
By Jennifer Layton
I had the pleasure of reviewing Royal Jones’ debut You Broke the Circle a few years ago, and I’ve been wondering when this naughty funky boy diva would show up again. Circle was full of life and soul, along with tales of wonderfully skanky behavior mixed with upscale-club sophistication. Like smoking a joint while enjoying a martini. Excuse me – my editor is grabbing the keyboard. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Jennifer has never smoked pot in her life, and if she did, she didn’t get it from us. Drugs are bad.]
Um, OK. I’m back. The Royal Mr. Jones is back with A Dear in the Headlights, and this trip is more polished and sophisticated. The music has taken a massive step up, with killer piano, funky horns, demanding bass, and Motownish female backup vocalists with harmonies to die for. It would be classy enough for the Upper East Side, if Mr. Jones would just put on a tux and behave himself. Fortunately for all of us, he doesn’t.
Take, for example, the groove of "If I Ever Come Down," a sexy, daring dance track. How can you not be drawn in by the rueful line, "If I ever come down, I’ll behave, I’ll be good"? I think this song is actually built around a lyric from another song I liked on the first album. Looks like Jones still hasn’t come down yet. And just in case you think he’s being too vague, please enjoy the next track, "A Little Vice." It’s a languid, dazed little number that starts off with "I’m really stoned, you got the wrong number, but I’m glad you phoned." This is a good song to get stoned to. [EDITOR’S NOTE: We didn’t say that. We don’t even know this reviewer. Drugs are bad.]
Royal Jones and his brilliantly talented team of funksters are obviously having musical as well as lyrical fun, moving from the snappy, playful jazz/funk of "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" to the smoky piano lounge feel of "Echo." The one suggestion I would make for the next album is that the vocals do need to be turned up a little – the voice does get a little overpowered by the instrumentation. However, the sass still comes through. The moods may change, but the attitude-laden yet fun vibe still infuses every song like the smoke from a well-rolled – um, never mind.