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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.

 

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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

BRILLIANT YOUNG PIANIST DR. DERRICK R. FINCH DIES IN AUTO CRASH IN LOS ANGELES

It is with deep regret and and a heavy heart that we announce the death of member Derrick R. Finch, who was killed in an auto accident today in Los Angeles where he was attending graduate school. He was one of the finest pianists of his generation and destined to be a major star in the great Pittsburgh lexicon of jazz pianists. He was a good friend and an early member of this network. He is also the first member to pass through transition. He will always have a page on this network and hopefully a family member will access it and retrieve messages from those who knew and loved him. Please use the comment section to publicly express your condolences to his family and his musical friends and post your memories of him.

We will post the details of the services when they become available. Rest in Peace and love my friend, Nelson

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Comment by karlo on March 31, 2010 at 8:18pm
My condolences to Derrick's family and friends. Derrick was one of nicest and most gifted people I have had the pleasure to hang with.trachea surgery I know he was really excited about being in LA. I never knew about his reasons for waiting to get his doctorate, but now that I know it doesn't surprise me at all
Comment by Angelo on December 15, 2009 at 1:29pm
wow thats a shame a terrible lost he was a fantastic pianist and a great person also let me tell u that Online Pharmacy is the best way to get better .
Comment by Crystal Robinson-Burkes on September 19, 2009 at 1:14pm
This is such an honor to be able to read this about Derrick. I am his first cousin and lately he has been heavy on my heart. I just googled his name and this came up. To see his face one more time has lifted my spirits this morning !! I want to say "Thank you" to everyone for keeping his memory and his music alive.
Comment by Vincent P. Womack on March 29, 2009 at 6:49am
I am stunned, saddened, and heartbroken as I just found out that Derrick is gone. Please inform me of any upcoming Los Angeles events in his memory. I teach at a school a few blocks from USC (Foshay) where Derrick frequently would visit my music classes and give my students a "real" understanding of music and life. He played at my wedding and we did other gigs around town. Count on me to contribute whatever is needed. Contact me at farwind@aol.com. God bless and keep Derrick.
Comment by DOLORES PETERSEN on March 16, 2009 at 1:21am

A tribute to Dr. Derrick Finch was held last night in celebration of his life at the Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill. It was a huge success. I was grateful that so many accepted my invitation and had some fabulous things to share including his visits at lunch at the restaurant for his favorite cuisine there. Sandra Booker, Los Angeles' own sweetheart of song was as dynamic as only she could be. Derrick was on his way to meet her in New Orleans for a performance at Mardi Gras before heading on to his beloved fiancee in Boston. There was laughter and tears referring to how he tapped his foot when he played and how he cherished that darn blue tooth of his on his ear. I'll remember how he enhanced every performance of mine and how the other musicians got a kick out of his selflessness and wit. I miss you terribly Derrick. Another event is planned for the near future.... a number of musicians had to work last night and were upset that they couldn't make it... if anyone is interested in upcoming events including USC's tribute please contact me.
Comment by DOLORES PETERSEN on March 14, 2009 at 4:47pm
This is such a great loss to the music world. I will always remember Derrick as a dear friend.... our musical performances together and his great wit. It seemed only fitting that I delegate the position of Music Director to Derrick at any opportunity. The first was a Strayhorn/Ellington Event then a fundraiser for the William Grant Still Music and Arts Center in Los Angeles, .... each very successful. He put his entire self into everything he did. The Los Angeles Music community will miss him. This evening, in memory of his life, we will be celebrating his life at the Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill where he performed and sometimes wander in for lunch... it was always a fun to see him ...sitting and talking with him... blue tooth and all.
Love ya Lil' Brother
Comment by Lucy Blanco on March 13, 2009 at 5:20pm
I knew and worked with Derrick in Los Angeles and found him to be a warm, giving and talented spirit who will be missed for a long time. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Finch Family and successful recovery of Sonja 's daughter Rhonda. I was moved to tears when I read her accounting of Derrick's spirit watching over her. My heart is full with how amazing love can be even under the most tragic of circumstances. I keep both familys in my heart and prayers for the strength, faith, courage and most importantly the love to move forward through this difficult time
Much Love & Peace
Lucy
Comment by selena brookins on March 13, 2009 at 2:34pm
Dear Sonja, thankyou for letting us know about your daughter Rhonda. Shiela, Derrick's mom is taking it day to day and still in shock over what happened. God knows what he's doing and why he's doing it. Im glad your daughter is on the road to recovery and we will continue to pray and light a candle everyday. I will let Shiela know how Rhonda's doing and please keep us updated on her recovery. Derrick was a exceptional child that grew into an exceptional young man with a talent that could not be matched. From the day I held him as an infant to the day i heard him play the piano. He was just an awsome person. one of a kind. never complained about anything or anyone. Again T.Y. for letting us know about Rhonda and her recovery. Derrick was my brother's son and now they're together again. 1040am
Comment by Maryellen Hayden on March 13, 2009 at 6:05am
That would be just like our Derrick. I have been tinking a lot about the theme of touched by an angel- some old tv show. Derrick was like an angel, maybe he always was. Wow, at her bedside. I hope he comes back and sings to her. What a guy!
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on March 13, 2009 at 3:51am
Thank you for posting the picture of your beautiful daughter on your page. It is fitting for her to be present among our group as we pray for her.

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