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.
Thank you so much for the kind words. If you send me you email address i will put you on my mailing list-which updates you weekly on my schedule. Also, I don't know if you facebook but I am also on facebook. This coming week I will be singing at the southside works, on Friday and at the Fairmont-Jazz at Andys on saturday. so happy meet you.
Very informative commentary. The Musicians club you used to hang out in was on lower Wylie Avenue and it was raised when the Civic Arena was built. The Local #471 moved its headquarters to East Liberty after that to the corner of Enterprise & Frankstown at Lincoln Avenue in the back room of Johnny Brown's Famous Door. Its last home in the 60s was at Westray Plaza on Lincoln Avenue above the Ebony Lounge owned by then President Joe Westray.
The church basement you frequented may have been Macedonia Baptist Church on Bedford Avenue. I think they presently have the best music of any church in Pittsburgh.
I took a couple pics of the Midway Lounge before it was raised but by then it was called the 630 Club. I'm sure someone will have some pictures of the interior in their archives that will be posted soon. I saw the Miles Davis Sextet there on my prom night in June '58.
We have many pictures of erstwhile jazz venues and I'm sure there will be more. Perhaps you have a few to post. there is much to discover her already and we've only just begun. Glad to have you abourd.