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.
We need to create a plan to save music programs in our schools. We are starting with Westinghouse because so many great musicians have started there.
At Westinghouse, the band only consists of a few students and a good group of drummers and flags and majorettes. But they are all kids who really want to do something and they deserve the help of every adult out there. If you can play, mentor a musician. If you can't, mentor a majorette. We need a core team of adults willing to help these kids raise money for new uniforms. We need to show this principal how important this city thinks the music department is, and push for resources for music from the administration. Can we get a fundraiser going? The first meeting is Thursday evening at Westinghouse school 6:00 PM. More will follow. Pittsburgh's school music programs used to be on fire! Billy Strayhorn, etc, hit the music scene from Westinghouse! Pittsburgh's club scene used to be on fire! Anyone see a connection? Please help me get this going. Children who are taught to play music and love music grow up to be adults who play music and support the music scene.
So, who can play and march next to these kids in the African American Heritage Day Parade? Oh, yeah, and the first football game is Saturday, and the powers that be did not give our kids a band camp.
Who can be a Musical Mentor?
Who can help with team fundraising?
Who can play a fundraising concert?
Who can think of something else to contribute?
Step right up. Right, Left, Right, let's play the Alma Mater!