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THE STRONG CARD

PITTSBURGH JAZZ

 

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, Parlan to 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.

 

WELCOME!

 

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Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin

    MARY LOU WILLIAMS     

            INTERVIEW

       In Her Own Words
For those who haven't heard.....here is a link to the PG's story about the foundations choosing not to act on their option to purchase WDUQ.

post-gazette.com/pg/10160/1064146-53.stm

Many people spoke passionately about the importance they placed on having jazz remain a prominent part of 90.5's programming. This public advocacy was critical to the foundations decision.

This forum provided a place for an important exchange of ideas that helped inform the public dialog and I thank everyone who joined in the discussion.

Now the group Pittsburgh Public Media will continue it's negotiations with Duquesne University to buy the license. PPM is committed to news,jazz and npr programming as it exists now. I encourage everyone who cares about supporting that commitment to jazz to visit the website pittsburghpublicmedia.org and encourage others to do so. This is the group that represents the future of jazz radio in Pittsburgh.

Again,...thank you very much ......people speaking publicly have made a difference.

Bob Studebaker

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Comment by Kevin Hurst, Sr. on June 10, 2010 at 6:24am
Baby Boomers were born from 1945 to 1967 had rock & roll and more opportunities that supplanted the choice of listening to jazz- It should not have been a CHOICE! The chitlin circuit thrived till 1970 but colleges started jazz programs and it seemed in the black community parents did stick to their guns and play jazz at home. In 1983 I was 26 and went to jazz concerts I never thought would come to Harrisburg. In 2007 I was 51 so there are not as many 29 yr olds because the boom was over. My son is 25 and only went to jazz concerts if I took him when he was little. My parents never took me to any concert only high school sports. A blues educator asked an audience how many got into jazz & blues late in life and a couple put their hands up. He then said I mean after you were a teen and most put their hands up! Wynton said when he made his first recording Freddie Hubbard was 20 yrs older, Woody Shaw was next. There are many good musicians but not enough listeners!
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 9, 2010 at 12:58am
JazzTimes article
06/08/10 • By Philip Booth
Woe is Jazz: If We Build It, Will They Come Back?
Philip Booth reflects on the future jazz audience

With the JJA (Jazz Journalists Association) Awards next week, and an abundance of high-profile shows — including Herbie Hancock’s 70th-birthday salute – and summer jazz festivals in New York, around the U.S. and worldwide, jazz seems to be grabbing the spotlight.

More good signs:

• The first conference held by the Jazz Education Network brought more than 1,150 participants to the St. Louis event in late May. The second conference, slated for January in New Orleans, could turn into a worthy successor to the ginormous annual conferences once held by the now-defunct IAJE.

• SF Jazz recently announced plans to build a 35,000-square-foot building, with two adaptable theater spaces, in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. The SF Jazz Center, slated to open in fall 2012 “will entail a $60 million capital campaign, including a $10 million operating endowment,” according to a recent New York Times story. The organization, with 3,000 subscribers, puts on almost 100 concerts a year, including a highly regarded annual festival.

• HBO’s Treme, largely focused on the lives and work of jazz musicians in contemporary New Orleans, has picked up critical acclaim and enough goodwill to convince the powers-that-be to let the series run for at least two seasons.

• More colleges than ever are offering jazz degree programs, and more students than ever are studying jazz.

• The flow of new jazz releases, and reissues, continues unabated, as evidenced by the numbers of review copies that come through my door every week.

But drill a little bit deeper, and what hurts is the truth: The audience for jazz is shrinking faster than the Gulf Coast’s chances for an economic recovery any time before 2012.

The stats, as related by Village Voice writer Stacey Anderson (in the course of a long, terrific piece on Woody Allen‘s work as a clarinetist and early-jazz advocate), aren’t shocking, given what we already know about the decline of interest in jazz. Still, they’re downright sobering:

• The median age for adult attendees of jazz concerts in 2008 was 46, while it was 29 in 1983, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.

• Jazz sales comprised 1.1 percent of all music sales in 2008, down from 3.4 percent in 2001, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Anderson’s conclusion, the same one reached again and again by jazz observers in recent years (with no recipe for redress in sight) — The audience for jazz is going away, and it won’t come back.

“Jazz is showing a dangerous lack of renewability with future generations, and what is not heard is not preserved,” Anderson writes. “New York, while still a slightly stronger jazz microcosm than the country at large, exhibits the same warnings signs: a shrinking number of venues, a lack of mainstream exposure to entice new audiences, and a splintered community of performers, fighting artistically among themselves.”

If we build it —a bridge, that is, making sure that young listeners are at least exposed to jazz, maybe by way of short courses or seminars for elementary- and middle-school students—will they come?

I’d like to say yes, but, honestly, I don’t know anymore.

My own unscientific case study has been conducted at home: For years, I’ve played jazz (and other music) around the house, and in the car. And now, my son, 14, listens to rap and hip-hop constantly, much to his dad’s chagrin. And my daughter, 10, is “trending” in that direction.

See my shoulders? They’re in full shrug.

Got ideas?
Comment by Rob Jones on June 3, 2010 at 5:09pm
I didn't own any of WAMO, never sent them a penny, they didn't ask me for money, so its no surprise that the owners didn't ask my opinion before they sold it. I respect greatly what the Davenport family accomplished through Sheridan Broadcasting. I respect their right to have sold it, and I'm grateful it was here for nearly my entire life.

On the other hand, I am and have been a DUQ supporter for many years, and I've sent them cold cash annually and monthly. But the listenership - the people that supported this "public radio" station - were not being asked what should be done.until this blog.

Seeing a public dialog brewing is gratifying, but hopefully its not already too late to be meaningful.

The cruel irony is that during the DUQ daily fund drives we've all heard the pleading mantra, "This is YOUR radio station." Perhaps DUQ (and all public radio) should alter that a bit for future fund drives, as it apparently is not quite the case that contributing represents possession in any meaningful sense.

One of Pittsburgh's historic radio stations that featured African American music culture is now gone forever. One down, one to go, it seems. The greatest irony is to have a local landscape sporting a new and shining icon of diversity in the August Wilson Center while at the same time facing the possibility of our local airwaves being almost totally devoid of that same aspect of diversity.

Without our DUQ Jazz Station in Pittsburgh, a broadcasting landmark of historic import, we lose a showcase outlet for many of our community's musical artists and performers, local and national, past and present. We lose something that many visitors have termed 'a rare and unique gem of a station.' We lose something that is irreplaceable.even by satellite.

My bet is that should DUQ be lost to the very public that has supported and maintained its existence through the decades, the loss will strain the credibility of all "public radio" in this region, taint the concept of "listener support" as a driver for programming, and rent the fabric of trust in those who own a frequency and manage "public radio" programming. Those who have loyally supported DUQ precisely because of what it was, because of its unique programming, will no doubt think twice before opening up their wallets to the tune of, "This is YOUR radio station."

It is wonderful that Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, and American Public Radio (all of them being news and information outlets) and the former editor of a news and information outlet in Philadephia have all concluded that the presence of a news-and-information public station in Pittsburgh would strengthen DUQ. That is great news for the frequency. It is also the case that a predominantly news-and-information format would weaken jazz, and perhaps not just locally.
DUQ's current programming is treasured beyond Pittsburgh, especially in that it eminates from a historic city in the development and global spread of jazz.

Thus it seems there are really two issues, 1) what to do with the station/frequency, and 2) what to do with the current programming. Can they be separated? How can we allow for strengthening the frequency with news-and-information, while also saving the best jazz programming in the nation? Are there any takers for the historic DUQ programming? I, for one, would follow it where ever it landed.and would still send cold cash to support it.

Lately, for some reason, I've been flashing back to my high school reading of Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," and increasingly wondering whether the book was an historical commentary or a prophetic treatise on Pittsburgh.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 3, 2010 at 12:26am
WDUQ sale on hold... Foundations pay for time to preserve station PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christian Morrow - Courier Staff Writer
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 10:15

Erroll Garner, Earl Hines, the Turrentine brothers, the Betters brothers, Walt Harper, Ahmad Jamal—all are Pittsburgh jazz legends, known the world over. But increasingly, even in their hometown, they seem to only live on the airways of WDUQ radio.

But with Duquesne University’s pending sale of the station license, some fear their work and their place in Pittsburgh history may disappear from local airwaves, lost to future generations.
NelsonHarrison
NELSON HARRISON says losing only jazz station in Pittsburgh would be a disaster.

“I really can’t imagine not hearing the melodic voices of Tony Mowod and Bob Studebaker, as well the other excellent hosts such as Helen Wigger, bringing this community the sounds of this nation’s original art form, jazz,” said Tim Stevens in a letter to the New Pittsburgh Courier. “This station has played more music by Pittsburgh artists than probably all of the other Pittsburgh stations combined, something that I as a Pittsburgh jazz vocalist and writer highly appreciate.”

Shortly after the university announced it wanted to sell the license, station management and staff formed a nonprofit, Pittsburgh Public Media, to buy the license and keep the format as it is—jazz music, award-winning local news and National Public Radio programming including “All Things Considered,” “This American Life,” and “Car Talk.”

The new entity has submitted two bids for the license, but the university has rejected both as they did not meet the $10 million asking price. Spokes­­person Bridget Fare said the university subsidizes the station with $500,000 a year and is selling so it can refocus funds toward core academic and student needs.

“This could be an opportunity for Duquesne to reallocate assets for the enhancement of our educational enterprise and for the station to thrive on its own. We believe that DUQ will be even stronger under ownership that focuses on radio,” she said. “But our focus all along has been to keep it a public station, if possible.”

Initially the university and Pittsburgh Public Media worked with the Pittsburgh Foundation, one of the station’s funders, to reach an accord. In the interim, three other entities submitted bids for the license. They too were rejected.

Early last month, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and an anonymous foundation pooled their resources and essentially took out a 60-day option to purchase the station. The amount of the option payment was not disclosed.

As of now, Fare said, everything is in a holding pattern.

“We agreed to the two-month period in which we won’t negotiate or make decisions so that the foundations have an opportunity to put forth a bid,” she said.

Though Pittsburgh Foundation President Greg Oliphant emphasized he and his colleagues are not interested in owning a noncommercial radio license and are just trying to ensure the station’s future, board member, and former Heinz Endowments head Maxwell King suggested a new roll for the station as a regional news entity.

King, the former editor of the Philadelphia Enquirer, said local foundations want to use media to generate debate on issues such as reforming public schools, improving Pittsburgh’s air quality and the environmental impact of drilling for natural gas.

“It makes complete sense for the Pittsburgh Foundation to be looking at how electronic media can be used to advance a dialogue,” he said.

Conversely, Pittsburgh Public Media wants to preserve the station’s current mix of local news, NPR and jazz programming. And while the option has given them time to raise more money, it has done the same for other potential buyers.

Joe Kelly, advisory board chair said with one month left on the option, “We’re on the outside looking in.”

“I don’t know what the foundations are doing or why,” he said. “We have yet to be given the chance to sit before the powers that be and make our case. So, we’re building up our board with great people like Alan Lincoln and Nathan Davis, media, jazz, and journalism people who want to continue the station and help it improve.”

Additionally, Kelly said they have set up the website www.pittsburghpublicmedia.org for people to get the latest news on the pending sale, to ask questions, to make contributions and meet the board.

“This isn’t some failed art group the foundations need to prop up, the station is rated number one in every category,” he said. “Bit it’s tough to ask people for a million dollars. We can’t use the station or its mailing list because that’s university property.”

Jazz musician, historian and teacher, Nelson Harrison played with Walt Harper on the station’s first live jazz broadcast in 1969. He said losing the only jazz station in Pittsburgh would be a disaster.

“I don’t want to see it happen it would create a real vacuum in Pittsburgh market because they wound up being only jazz station. Its how I keep up with jazz community the music and the news,” he said. “It’s a shame we don’t have more institutional support. But the corporate mentality doesn’t understand the music. I hope people get behind it and rally around it because only grass roots support will save it. WDUQ raised the consciousness of its audience.”

The foundations’ option expires at the end of June. So far, no meetings have been scheduled to elicit public feedback on the station’s future.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .)
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 2, 2010 at 10:47pm
These comments are all informative and very well presented while bringing up related issues worthy of being discussed further. I hope this thread continues.
Comment by Frank B. Greenlee on June 2, 2010 at 7:18pm
There is concern about the demise of WDUQ and Jazz, these are two different things.

First: WDUQ is a radio station, one of 52 in this market, not a cultural statement. Their programming includes news, information and Jazz. Yes it is the only station programming a significant amount of Jazz. For clarification, the Pittsburgh radio market formats consist of 13 talk/combinations, 10 oldies, 6 aa/ac, 6 religious, 5 country, 2 Chrisitian, 2 variety music, 2 rock, 2 college, 1 nostalgia, 1 classical, 1 all news and 1 gospel station. For a major market, Pittsburgh is void of a urban and/or adult urban contemporary station.

Radio is a business like any other that is about power, influence and money i.e.: jobs, profit and venues.

Secondly: Like all the other radio stations in Pittsburgh, WDUQ serves its own uniquely designed audience but not all the Jazz audience through its programming slant. WDUQ garners many Jazz listeners by default; because there is no/or little Jazz programming available elsewhere. You are now hearing and reading that more African Americans are listening to WDUQ which is an attempt to rally that community to support the fight against the loss of the music. If it is a concern from a cultural point of view, how come there are no African American announcers presenting the music, that's like a polka station having an all African American staff? There are knowledgeable qualified professional African American announcers available.

Is the real concern about the preservation of the music, station, staff, the staus quo or the control of what is heard?
Comment by Can't kill the music on June 2, 2010 at 6:29am
Public Radio Capital is under an exclusive contract to consult Pittsburgh Public Media. They are helping to craft the bids and the business plan for a sustainable enterprise. Their experience and expertise, and it is indeed impressive, is being employed solely by that would-be buyer.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 2, 2010 at 3:57am
This is a most essential discussion that pertains to much more than the present needs of WDUQ. A number of our more active members may not fully appreciate the opportunity to voice their opinions on this grassroots forum but will complain about the top-down decisions that will ensue sans the benefit of their input. Is it more important to play Farmville on Facebook or attack a harmless individual than it is to voice up about something that strikes at the very heart of all we claim to value? This debate is not just a local one either but is happening nationwide. If you don't have an opinion at least share this forum with others i your network on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Now's the Time. You don't have to pay to play but we will all pay if we lose. Thank you to those below who are in the game.
Comment by Kevin Amos on June 2, 2010 at 3:02am
It is very interesting that the battle rages on based on a cultural tradition invented by African-Americans. The irony of it all is that some of us have not evev been asked to comment on this because we will not uphold the staus quo for either of the entities involved.
The Pacifica stations in New York, DC, Houston, LA and San Francisco have no problems presenting comprehensive news and information from a diverse point of view. Cross cultural communication is not an issue and that is reflected in the paid and volunteer staffs at these stations and also through the music programming.

Once again the issue is not about saving Jazz but who is going to control how culture is defined and programmed through the airwaves in Pittsburgh and other outlets in the country. I know for one thing...people of color will not be involved except when they want to point out weak demographics and no true measure of the numbers.
The wolves in sheep's clothing need to be exposed for once and for all. Do your homework and look at the backgrounds of all of these folks. And yes, all of the naysayers, it is very important.
Most of us already know the makeup of the Pittsburgh Foundation. Joe Kelly, If I am not mistaken, was one of the very early staff members of WYEP back in the 70's. While Charlie Humphrey is a great administrator for Pittsburgh Filmmakers and was indeed a major force with John Burstein at In Pittsburgh, he is NOT a broadcaster. Let's connect the dots and tell me what you see here.

http://www.pittsburghpublicmedia.org/pittsburgh-public-media-adviso...

http://www.publicradiocapital.org/about/staff.php

Public Radio Capital is governed by board members of national stature, who represent all regions of the country and bring a wealth of experience in public broadcasting, business, finance, marketing and law.

Teresa Bryce, Philadelphia, Pa., is Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer of the Radian Group, a global credit risk management company. She is active in the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, where she was on the board of directors for several years, and with the University of Virginia where she chairs a scholarship fund that helps minority students.

Carolyn Grinstein, Seattle, Wash., (Secretary/Treasurer), is a civic leader who currently serves on the boards of the Seattle Art Museum, The Nature Conservancy of Washington, the University of Washington Foundation Board and the Yale University Art Gallery.

Marc Hand, San Francisco, Calif., (Managing Director) has primary responsibility for overseeing PRC’s brokerage and financial services and strategic alliances. Marc has extensive experience in public and commercial radio operations and management, as well as representing station owners in sales, acquisitions, mergers and financial restructurings.

Susan Harmon, Seattle, Wash., (Managing Director) has primary responsibility for developing philanthropic support of Public Radio Capital and for administering the company. Susan brings more than 30 years experience as a public broadcasting executive, and she has been a member of several boards of directors within public radio’s national network.

William King, Nashville, Tenn., chaired Nashville Public Radio’s Foundation Board when the station separated from city government and became Nashville Public Radio. He is a Partner in Strategy Corps, LLC and Chairman of Board Member, Inc., and Publisher of Bank Director and Board Member magazines.

Josh Mallamud, Los Angeles, Calif., is chief operating officer of Competitive Edge Sports in Los Angeles. He previously served in positions with UBS in New York, Semler Brossy Consulting Group in Los Angeles and as an attorney in the Los Angeles-based firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP.

Leo Martinez, San Francisco, Calif. (Chair) is Professor of Law and former Academic Dean at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He writes and lectures on insurance, tax and other subjects and is a member of the American Law Institute and the Association of American Law Schools Executive Committee. He is Vice Chair of Northern California Public Broadcasting’s board of directors.

Jan Nicholson, New York, N.Y., is the President of The Grable Foundation, a private charitable foundation in Pittsburgh, Pa. dedicated to helping children and youth by improving their educational opportunities. She retired in 2000 from a career in finance, spent principally at Citicorp.

At the present time there is no colaboration among Jazz broadcasters who are at different stations here in Pittsburgh which is suspect. Yet people want support and won't engage in any forum or communication. For over 20 years I have been playing Jazz on the air at WRCT. For the past 31 years I have been on non-commercial stations here including WDUQ and WYEP as an on air producer/host as most of you know.. I have also been on panels discussing new media applications , I have actually discused diversity in the arts community and preservation of cultural traditions in addition to promoting this great music on and off the air.
Comment by Dan Wasson on June 2, 2010 at 1:44am
I just searched on his name and didn't see anything surprising, so per "It's scary the connections this guy has and what he believes in", could you please provide a link or some additional information? thanks

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