AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Pain Relief Beyond Belief
|Rebecca Droke, Post-Gazette
Barbara Austin of Wilkinsburg claps along with the All That Jazz band honoring Walt Harper at the first summer concert of the Reservoir of Jazz series in Highland Park yesterday. The series continues through Sept. 2.
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The concert, the first in the popular Reservoir of Jazz series, featured Mr. Harper's tribute band and the Burgh Big Band.
Between performances, Mr. Harper's wife, Maggie, was presented flowers and Evan Hertrick received a $5,000 award as the 2007 Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz Scholarship recipient.
Mr. Hertrick, a Penn Hills native and senior at Youngstown State University, plays bassoon and tenor saxophone.
As the music began to unfold, the crowd inched closer to the stage, listening to Mr. Harper's All That Jazz tribute band performed some of his favorite tunes like "I'll Drink to That" and "It's My Pleasure."
Directed by saxophonist Don Aliquo Sr., the band also featured saxophonist George Thompson, bassist Mark Perna, trombonist Nelson E. Harrison, drummer John Schmitz and pianist Duke Spaulding.
At one point, Mr. Aliquo asked the crowd to identify a song closely associated with Mr. Harper. It was "Satin Doll," a song Mr. Harper performed so often that most people thought it was he, not Duke Ellington that, who wrote it.
Dr. Harrison told the crowd that he first became aware of Mr. Harper in 1948, when Mr. Harper worked as disc jockey for a local radio station.
"He was the first jazz DJ in Pittsburgh," said Dr. Harrison. "He later played at my high school prom, and I joined his band in 1967."
Dr. Harrison said Mr. Harper was a great entertainer and band leader.
"He gave us a lot of jobs," he continued.
"The pay wasn't that great, but we have a lot to be thankful for."
Mr. Harper died Oct. 25 of an apparent heart attack.