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.
Hey Mr Frank! (yes, although I'm 46, my dad (Roger Leonard) taught me nothing but respect! I remember your radio days " The Big G", it inspired me to finally do it. Did the Columbia School thing and had an on air Acid Jazz format show on WYEP for a couple of years while I was still with the Police Dept. Thanks to you...one of my Dad's best friends!
It saddens me to see so many jazz stations fading away. When living in Pittsburgh I could not wait to hear that distinguish deep voice saying “Hi this is Frank Greenlee”. His voice alone illuminated my already dark living room as I awaited the sooth sounds that I knew would soon be filling the room with history of many jazz artists. Some older than me at the time but still capture my mind wanting more. I remember when I applied for a job a Mercy health Clinic, the interviewer walked in the room and said Hi I am Frank Greenlee, I almost fell out the chair. In my mind I keep saying OMG it’s him, however I kept my composure until after the interview. Once it was confirmed I had the job then I fell apart, LOL. I have three children ranging from the age of 36, 22 and 19 and they all have been introduced to jazz including the history of jazz and the artist. We must continue to educate are children, grandchildren, all of our youth so that Jazz will not fade and slowly become a sound of the past like so many jazz stations. I wanted to take this moment to say thank you Frank!
At 8:50pm on September 6, 2009, Buster Maxwell said…
Frank, Thanks for your nice note and the kind words. Those are also my demo tunes above the video link on my page. I'll be in touch - would love to catch up! - Buster/mj
Frank, "The Master, The Big G" Greenlee! I learned a lot about presentation from you when we were on WMBA, Ambridge. That was 1973, my first radio gig. We had some fun, yes? It was so far from my house that I spent more time on the bus than I did on the air.
I would love to feature "you" as my guest on my show..If I am not your friend..please add me...also please call me @ the offc at 757 538 3540...757 971 3733 for details...click on the banner below to be a guest...JB
I am Ronnie Cox from originally from Beaver Falls. My younger brother and I used to listen to you on Saturday mornings I believe. Back then AM radio was pretty much all we had. We had a hard time getting WAMO in Beaver Falls. Those tunes you played helped to keep us in touch with the sounds of the 70's. As we get older, those things that seemed little years ago, were actually huge in helping to shape our lives. Thanks " Big G" ... RC
I really like your pics of the Faces in wood.Faces in metal and the classic photos of the player! Who's the artist? About your mission to forward forgotten artists: Do you remember the Pgh. sculptor living in Shadyside in the 60's and 70's, whose work of wood embossed with hundreds of nails, after a Congolese tradition? Was his name "Bat"? His works were put in the Smithsonian Museum by 1970.He lived an obscure, popular life in the Burgh while celebrated in the fine arts world. He's black, always wore denim overhauls as he was in his studio a lot. I'd like to remember his name so I can write about him as a monumental figure in American /African-American modern art. Hey man, I listened to Easy 86, Wamo a.m Jazz every day in the 70's during its too brief existence. You were a hot d.j. with a smooth voice, an impressionable jazz affectionado.Shit, I heard many great songs for the first time on your show! I broadcasted jazz on WYEP in the 70's, later broadcasting for Wbai f.m., NYC. Occasionally I do guest radio broadcast shows here in Paris. I'm glad you're on the Jazzburgh scene.
Very nice work! If you have just started sculpting (me too) you are obviously anointed. All of my work is hand sculpted original pieces. I am currently looking into having my work reproduced into limited editions. I will let you know what I find out.