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.
This considers those who are alive and those who have passed on: George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Tommy Turrentine, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Joe Negri, Roger Humphries, Robert Jones, Eric Kloss, Tony Cambell, Johnny (Squirrel) Mosley, Jerry Byrd, Gene Ludwig
I was born in Wildwood, NJ and grew up Pittsburgh, PA I am a flutist, saxophonist and composer and for more than 25 years have led and performed in various Jazz, Afro-Cuban, and R&B contexts.
I started out studying drums with Pittsburgh native, Dave Lee but later turned to flute after hearing the Latin Jazz Music of Herbie Mann on “Comin Home Baby” and the beautiful solo taken by Frank Wess on Gene Ammons' recording of “Angel Eyes”. I always loved the sound of the flute but when I found out that women dug flute players too, I was more highly inspired. I laugh now when I think about how I played for my high school graduation dance (Westinghouse) and I wore the same double breasted blue pinstriped blazer and the white pants that Herbie Mann wore on the album “Standing Ovation at Newport.” A short time later that year, a local Pittsburgh multi-instrumentalist and my early mentor, Dennis Morphis introduced me to the music of Eric Dolphy and Hubert Laws. What I heard sent chills through me and I knew I wanted to be able to play like them and from that moment on, I wanted to pursue music seriously. I began studying flute in Pittsburgh PA with several teachers including Bernard Goldberg of the Pittsburgh symphony. During this time, I also became a member of vocalist Johnny Gilliam’s “Everything Nice Band. We performed somewhat regularly at the Crawford Grill. I later co-lead and toured with the very popular Jazz group called “Black Magic.” We were so named because we started out performing at Billy Davis’ Black Magic club in the Hill District. The group included Robert Jones on guitar, Louis T. ALexander on drums, Doug Milner on bass, and a cat named spooky on keyboards. We had a ball playing together and many memorable adventures. We also such a unique sound on numerous occasions, vocalist Phyllis Hyman tried to get our group to become her backup band.
I later went to Seattle WA. and became a part of the Joe Brazil big band and a member of the Hal Stein workshop. While there, I became more grounded in the be-bop tradition and while taking flute lessons with Scott Goff of the Seattle symphony. It was during this time that I began studying tenor saxophone with fellow musicians John Bush, Booker Williams and Gary Hammon. These guys all could really play and had amazing sounds and technique. I loved the learning, the camaraderie and the playing.
When I moved to California in the early 70’s, the phenomenal trumpeter, DR. Eddie Henderson and the great saxophonist Hadley Caliman were my mentors. During this time, I composed for and led a group that periodically featured Eddie Henderson, Richard Kermode (the great pianist for Carlos Santana, Hadley Caliman, guitarist Ray Obiedo. I later performed with drummer Bob Bray and included guitarist Calvin Keys and Julian Priester.
I retired from playing professionally for more than 10 years but returned in 1993. I began studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with flutist Yada Weber. That got me on track for beginning to start gigging again but only on flute. Some years later, fellow flutist and composer, John Calloway encouraged me to go to Cuba where I was able to study with some of Cuba’ greatest flutists including Richard Eugues of Orquesta Aragon, Jorge Leliebre, of Los Van Van, and classical Flutist, Antonio Pedroso. In 2002, I performed in Cuba with an array of Cuban and American musicians under the direction of famed composers, Enrique Alvarez and Juan Pampos. I returned from Cuba with a musical vengeance and has been performing regularly ever since.
I still live in the San Francisco Bay Area where I lead a Jazz quintet and a Latin Jazz project. I also co-lead a group with pianist Clifford Lamb. I have A CD that will be released late spring early summer
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 remember you well but reading your biography was very informative and fascinating. I know CalvnKeys and Julian Priester. Have you been in touch with bandleader David Hardiman in SF who leads a big band? He is a close friend and colleague. we are very happy to have you on the page and you will find it easy to get in touch with your Pgh roots.
Also visit my blog for Bulldogs: http://thehouse.peopleaggregator.net