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.
MCG Jazz has always supported growing musicians and artists. Read about Paul Thompson's connection to MCG Jazz below!
Music and Mentors.... Paul's Story
In 1988, Paul Thompson's mother dropped him off at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG) Jazz to audition for a student band. She had previously enrolled him in music classes, but it wasn't until he was accepted into the MCG Jazz student ensemble and mentored by jazz legend Dr. Nelson Harrison that Paul began to realize the limitless potential of mastering an instrument and the broader life lessons he would learn through jazz.
Upon graduation from Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts 6-12 (CAPA), Paul enrolled in Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music, where his relationship with MCG Jazz strengthened through a program that offered direct access to such jazz legends as Billy Taylor, Dave Liebman and Herbie Mann. "The door was always open at MCG Jazz, and I got to meet most of my heroes here," Paul recalls fondly, "MCG Jazz brought an international perspective to Pittsburgh's doorstep through emphasizing diverse forms of jazz. This inspired me and made me want to see more of what the world had to offer."
It wasn't long before Paul was on the music radar locally and nationally. At the age of 19, Paul was recruited by legendary percussionist Roger Humphries to join his band. Paul went on to tour with jazz greats Maynard Ferguson and Stanley Turrentine. "Jazz is all about listening and trusting and learning to rely on yourself and your fellow musicians. Jazz brings focus to life," says Paul, "When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004, I relied on the discipline and meditation I learned through music to help me manage my symptoms and continue living a full life."
Despite his busy tour schedule, Paul created opportunities to give back to the Pittsburgh community by teaching in the MCG Jazz Student Jazz Spectacular. While an adjunct teacher at CAPA, Paul continues to perform and provides opportunities for his own students to interact and play with professional musicians just as he did in his youth. Making the transformation from mentee to mentor has been very rewarding for Paul. "There's nothing like being in the music, except being able to share the power of music with future generations," says Paul.
Ooo Baby Ba-by! Ooo Baby Ba-by! :) Thanks for reaching out! Good to see you here.
Send some "good juju" my way today my brother. Time to see you lots more and and make that dream of making music/magic with you--come true! Ha! :) -j c:412-657-9335
Hey Paul Thompson!! You must be one of the loveliest musicians out here, look at that gorgeous picture, you know, you could have a little mercy, some of us out here are trying to maintain some wedding vows and you are not making it easy at all..... ;)