PROGRESSIVE MUSIC COMPANY

AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS

BOYS CHOIR AFRICA SHIRTS
 
 
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/building-today-for-tomorrow/x/267428

 Pain Relief Beyond Belief

                         http://www.komehsaessentials.com/                              

 

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

Mary Lou Williams in One Word: 'The Lady Who Swings The Band

 

I'm the only musician who has played all the eras" Mary Lou Williams

To say that Mary Lou Williams had a long and productive career is an understatement. Although for decades she was often called jazz's greatest female musician (and one has to admire what must have been a nonstop battle against sexism), she would have been considered a major artist no matter what her sex.

 

Just the fact that Williams and Duke Ellington were virtually the only stride pianists to modernize their style through the years would have been enough to guarantee her a place in jazz history books. Williams managed to always sound modern during a half-century career without forgetting her roots or how to play in the older styles.

 

Born Mary Elfrieda Scruggs (although she soon took the name of her stepfather and was known as Mary Lou Burley), she taught herself the piano by ear and was playing in public at the age of six. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Williams' life was always filled with music.

 

When she was 13, she started working in vaudeville, and three years later married saxophonist John Williams. They moved to Memphis, and she made her debut on records with Synco Jazzers. John soon joined Andy Kirk's orchestra, which was based in Kansas City, in 1929. Williams wrote arrangements for the band, filled in for an absent pianist on Kirk's first recording session, and eventually became a member of the orchestra herself.

Her arrangements were largely responsible for the band's distinctive sound and eventual success. Williams was soon recognized as Kirk's top soloist, a stride pianist who impressed everyone (even Jelly Roll Morton). In addition, she wrote such songs such as "Roll 'Em" (a killer hit for Benny Goodman) and "What's Your Story Morning Glory" and contributed arrangements to other big bands, including those of Goodman, Earl Hines, and Tommy Dorsey. Mary Lou Williams stayed with Kirk until 1942, by which time she had divorced John Williams and married trumpeter Harold "Shorty" Baker. She co-led a combo with Baker before he joined Duke Ellington. Williams did some writing for Duke (most notably her rearrangement of "Blue Skies" into a horn battle called "Trumpets No End") and played briefly with Benny Goodman's bebop group in 1948. She had gradually modernized her style and by the early to mid-'40s was actively encouraging the young modernists who would lead the bebop revolution, including Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Tadd Dameron, and Dizzy Gillespie. Williams' "Zodiac Suite" showed off some of her modern ideas, and her "In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee" was a bebop fable recorded by Gillespie.

Mary Lou Williams in One Word: 'The Lady Who Swings The Band' I'm the only musician who has played all the eras" ---Mary Lou Williams

To say that Mary Lou Williams had a long and productive career is an understatement. Although for decades she was often called jazz's greatest female musician (and one has to admire what must have been a nonstop battle against sexism), she would have been considered a major artist no matter what her sex. Just the fact that Williams and Duke Ellington were virtually the only stride pianists to modernize their style through the years would have been enough to guarantee her a place in jazz history books. Williams managed to always sound modern during a half-century career without forgetting her roots or how to play in the older styles. Born Mary Elfrieda Scruggs (although she soon took the name of her stepfather and was known as Mary Lou Burley), she taught herself the piano by ear and was playing in public at the age of six.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Williams' life was always filled with music. When she was 13, she started working in vaudeville, and three years later married saxophonist John Williams. They moved to Memphis, and she made her debut on records with Synco Jazzers. John soon joined Andy Kirk's orchestra, which was based in Kansas City, in 1929. Williams wrote arrangements for the band, filled in for an absent pianist on Kirk's first recording session, and eventually became a member of the orchestra herself. By the time she passed away at the age of 71, she had a list of accomplishments that could have filled three lifetimes.

Mary Lou Williams recorded through the years as a leader for many labels including Brunswick (a pair of piano solos in 1930), Decca (1938), Columbia, Savoy, extensively for Asch and Folkways during 1944-1947, Victor, King (1949), Atlantic, Circle, Vogue, Prestige, Blue Star, Jazztone, her own Mary label (1970-1974), Chiaroscuro, SteepleChase, and finally Pablo (1977-1978).

Source: Artist Biography by Scott Yanow in allmusic.com

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 3, 2015 at 4:19am

Thanks for the comment E.

Comment by E Van D on August 3, 2015 at 12:44am

Mary Lou William's influence spans generations and geography. I'm listening to Rossano Sportiello, who is indebted to Wiliams. Thank you for this post and biography of Williams, one of the titans.

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