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 moved here to go to PItt and never left. I was active in the post-punk and alternative music scenes, where I found out about The Art Ensemble and Sun Ra. I owe my jazz interest to an ex from college and my husband, who loves Miles. I have been taking drum lessons from Brad Smith for about 4 years, and prior to that I played drums, bass, guitar and keyboards in various post-punk/ indie type bands for many years until I became a parent about 12 years ago. One of the high-lights of my band life was playing at the Knitting Factory in the 90s, and being on the same stage that some of my jazz and alternative idols had played on. Despite the fact that I do not play jazz, I think it is an amazing musical form and I never tire of listening to it.
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
Joe Negri, Geri Allen, Dwayne Dolphin, Kenny Blake, Ben Opie, Opek
Favorite all around jazz players include Marian McPartland, Eliane Elias, Dorothy Donegan, Don Byron, Sun Ra, and most avant-garde players. I love women jazz players, particularly piano jazz.
Favorite Jazz Radio or media station
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Strayhorn Theatre, Gullifty's, stuff at PItt, or shows that Manny does.
I love jazz, but tend to listen to it more than see shows these days, although I was thrilled to see Opek about 2 weeks ago. One of the best shows I saw in the past few years was Geri Allen do the Zodiac Suite at the Strayhorn. I've seen her several times and think she is an amazing musician and composer.
Artist or Fan
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Any friend of Kevin's is a friend of jazz. We provide you 24/7 access to some of the best of jazz sounds and some very special history and folklore about the Pittsburgh tradition and its artists, venues and fans. Thank you for joining.