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.
Words can't describe how unfortunate this loss is. I will never forget the time Jeffrey took me to their grandparents house. Mike was there too. Grandpa brought out an accordion and then mike started playing. He was so talented. The days at molinaris listening to his music on piano. He is up there having an accordion party with a lot of wonderful people who we have lost. Dolores and Jeffrey, I love you both so very much.
I am so saddened by this great musician my nephew passing . Michael I love you man hopefully you're in a better place now the memories of you and my dad playing together in your grandpa's basement will will be ever etched in my mind. The times I seen you play at the Bop stop , all those great memories . Hopefully you're in a better place now. The memories of you in my dad playing together in your grandpa's basement will be forever etched in my mind. The times I seen you play at the bop stop such great memories I love you man.. Rest in peace
When we were in second grade we both performed in a talent show in the basement of St. Paul's. Michael masterfully played a piece on his accordian and I fumbled through an acapella version of "sing a song". It may have been second or third grade when Michael sat behind me and would use his pencil to scribble on my uniform shirt. Friends!!
My deepest condolences to Mike's family. Mike was a very special musician and a sensitive soul, who I am glad came through my life. We didn't do gigs together since I also play piano, but I had nothing but the utmost respect for his talents. I won't be able to make the memorial service because of work, but I will be there in spirit.
You are becoming a positive force on the Pittsburgh Jazz scene on keyboard (and accordion). Your versatility speaks well of your musical awareness and adaptability. You have many friends here already and as you share more of yourself that number will grow along with those of your fans. Thank you fro joining.
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