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.
"When i worked at the Pittsburgh Courier in the early to mid 1980s, Teenie Harris used to stop by our East Carson Street offices and chew the proverbial fat. We knew he was an icon and for some of the younger reporters, Courierites like Hazel…"
"Many years before Squirrel returned to the Burgh, in the late 70s, me and my cohorts at Slippery Rock State University and Point Park University would proudly discuss that John was our homeboy. We were bigtime Roy Ayers Ubiquity fans and Squirrel…"
"As an up-start jazz drummer, i too had the pleasure of working with Jothan. we had special moments at late-night jam sessions at a Hill District nightclub in the early 1980s.. can't recall the club's name. He was also ever-present at…"
"What's up Dwayne Dolphin. I see you still on that bass. That's wonderful, you always had talent. Jazzy and Soulful. I still do drums on the secular tip; and some bass on the Gospel tip. Life is good. I'm in Augusta, Ga. now, but I…"
Lived in The Burgh in the 1980s. The '80s was Pittsburgh's last Golden Era of Live Music -- That's how Cecil Brooks III and I describe those good ole days. It was an era connected to Pgh's great jazz tradition and as young artists, we respected our legends. The 80s preceded the violent gun-toting ruckus introduced in the '90s which continues to obliterate the city's once-stellar social scene.
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
Roger Humphries, Cecil Brooks III, Greg Humphries, John Squirrel Mosely, Rex Rideout, Cordell Dudley, radio's Dell King, club-deejay Darrell "Boogie" Dunn and saxman Tony Campbell.
Favorite Jazz Radio or media station
In the 80s, Kevin Amos was GM of an independent radio station in Oakland on Pitt's campus. The format consisted of nothing but classic jazz and alternative sounds. Can't recall the station's call-letters, but i also worked there, as a news broadcaster. A jock named "The Dancer" and his partner are still my favorite, jazz deejays of all-times. They were so knowledgeable and let it be known each Satday morning.
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
This past summer, my brother Ron and I visited a cool spot called CJ's. RogerH led a slick jam session. CJ's is very impressive jazz venue, although i hear they allow other types of music too. Still, it's jazzy cool. Ron leads a Beaver County band called Sounds Unlimited, jazz, funk, fusion, pop, etc.
Me? A Beaver Falls native. In the 80s after leaving Point Park University, I was on staff at the historic Pittsburgh Courier in the daytime, but my nites were completed on the bandstands of many of the hot live music spots in the city, including, Aurora Club and Crawford Grill on the Hill; Walt Harper's downtown, Pyramid Lounge in East Liberty. Hollywood Clubs in Homewood and in Clairton. Beaver Falls Elks, Quippian Club in Aliquippa. Jerry Betters' Crescendo Lounge and The Decade in Oakland. I also played in a 50s Revue band called the Delmonics & Co. We played D.C., 7Springs, and south hillls, Pgh, primarily. I also did lots of dancing at Fantastic Plastic, Heaven, Phase II Rendevous and Reflections in Market Square. Today i still write columns and head a top dance band in Georgia called PlayBack.
Artist or Fan
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Hi Timm, I'm coming to ATL on Tuesday, 23rd for a week and I want to spend my evenings in all the Jazz spots in ATL. Can you provide me with the best upscale places to go for live straight-ahead jazz as well as spots that are playing smooth jazz. Jam Sessions would be cool. Thanks. My email is email@example.com.
You have many friends here that you will want to contact and add. Roger, Tony, Del King, Kevin Amos, etc. are all here. Your profile is well put and very important to our story. You speak the truth. This network gives us the voice we have needed for a long time so please participate and make your presence felt. Thank you for joining.
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