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.
i could listen to guys like wardell all nite..and not get bored. so many of those tenor men...in that long ago period..there was just something about them..something they all had in common. they all PLAYED THE TUNE! So important..and many players today miss that. entirely too much emphasis on playin lots of notes, lots of scales and runs and phrases. seems like the further they can get from the melody..the better. they are all well schooled, they all read their asses off..i dont mean to demean them but..seems like the "heart" is missing.Sometimes I can walk in after only one minute..and dont know what the hell they're playin, even tho its obvious they're good! If ypou've got good ears, you can pick up the chord progressions and recognize the tune. its almost like these cats WANT to keep you guessin' about the tune's title! You and I could name maybe 3 doz guys, like Dexter and Mobley and Getz (stop now) and never get tired diggin. they were different..and yet...all the same...in that very important way. maybe it was they put THEMSELVES into the tune, rather than bein so clinical. thanks much for sending this
Well, I was just getting ready to turn in and danged if you didn't light another fire. Dexter Gordon. In 1961, in the late spring and summer, I was at the University of Illinois and I used to really dig the live show on Chicago FM that I could pick up on my tuner. All of a sudden, the announcer would say, with great excitement, hey there, jazz fans, once again, it is a special time coming to you live from (I don't know if I am spelling it right) but it was Mackie's Disc Jockey Lounge with Sonny Stitt, Gene (Jug) Ammons and Dexter Gordon. Oh, how I dug that whole scene. Here I was a white, 21-year old kid from a farm town getting ready to go in August of that year to summer (boot) camp at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton,Va., and remember the Cadet across the hall who had gone to Howard University and kept telling me for a white guy, I sure had rhythm and knew my music. Well, who could listen to that live program and also go to the Southerland Lounge, which I did about three times in 1960 and 1961 to see, Jimmy Smith and Kenny Burrell, then Les McCann and all that Shout stuff he was doing at that time, and it was at that place that Dizzy had his first bent horn stolen. I think upstairs there was an apartment over the lounge and all I know is that Daddio Daley or someone said, damn, Dizzy had his instrument stolen, and I'm talking about that bent thing that he blows, and of course that was funny but not to Dizzy. I am pretty sure he had to get another one. Anyway, my life was being wonderfully blessed by so much good music, so I just took it for granted, but every once in a while it seemed unusual. Well, thanks for the memories, but just mentioning one word-DEXTER. I think Jug was wasted, Sonny was Sonny, but in my memory, the guy that seemed to be the glue that made it all work so well was Dexter. It was almost too much. I just get goose bumps remembering how fortunate I felt to have an apartment with all that music. I am sure that is why I didn't make better grades or focus more. Think about it, Steve Sample was my room mate the first semester of my sophomore year and he was getting a 98 on his Physics final!! And he used to stick his head in the back bunk room and ask me sometime to turn down the music. I dream of having a music room again like I did when I first met you. Since I am dreaming, I would like to have a 9'4'' Bosendorfer in there and a device where I can write and record a bunch of music that is rolling around in my head. Some of it is special and I just want to get it out as a gift to anyone that hears it. You and I know that some that are tone deaf will be like the song went, "Just walk on by", but maybe a few would be touched, but I know I will, because as I am typing right now, I can hear it and it is so fine. Sorry for such a long paragraph, but I always know that you are one person that can understand and it is kind of fulfilling to be able to express myself and know that someone will share the joy.
Keep on blessing Pittsburg and the rest of the world. Why, ole chap, I think you are getting famous like never before. Thanks for the World Wide Web and the gifts God has endowed you with. Your friend, Cado
Good to be a part of this magnificent historical site. The lengthy list of formative names in music takes my breath away, just before I smile with my heart. Gonna get down there one day Nelson, count on you to show me some sites before a fine dinner.
Dr Nelson glad to finally be here! so funny you liked the few that you did! one is a slide show photo impression of a dear friend and talented Musician & Singer Ulysis Slaughter part of the Jazzberry Jam group before he passed here in Nyc, the dog looking in the phonograph is a shot I took before recording my new Album at Bennett Studios in Englewood NJ before they closed.. looking forward to peaking around Pittsburg's Jazz Shed! would love to come to Pitsburg to perform. My name is LaRe & I am a 10x award winning Jazz SInger & accomplished World Class Musician doing big things in Jazz..
I just wanted to let you know that I spoke with Bob, and we are both excited to get something going!! Also the Pittsburgh Jazz Society has decided to hold their gatherings here every sunday starting Jan 8th. I will keep you updated as things they develop...