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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, Parlan to 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.

 

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Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin

    MARY LOU WILLIAMS     

            INTERVIEW

       In Her Own Words

BRILLIANT YOUNG PIANIST DR. DERRICK R. FINCH DIES IN AUTO CRASH IN LOS ANGELES

It is with deep regret and and a heavy heart that we announce the death of member Derrick R. Finch, who was killed in an auto accident today in Los Angeles where he was attending graduate school. He was one of the finest pianists of his generation and destined to be a major star in the great Pittsburgh lexicon of jazz pianists. He was a good friend and an early member of this network. He is also the first member to pass through transition. He will always have a page on this network and hopefully a family member will access it and retrieve messages from those who knew and loved him. Please use the comment section to publicly express your condolences to his family and his musical friends and post your memories of him.

We will post the details of the services when they become available. Rest in Peace and love my friend, Nelson

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Comment by Sonja Abate on March 13, 2009 at 3:40am
This is a picture of my daughter, Rhonda kay Black...I am not that young! Every day I see small imrovements in her recovery. It will be a long one but we will make it.

I don't know Derrick's parents but if any of you do, our family grieves with them in their tragic loss. Please let them know of Rhonda's story and perhaps somehow it may help ease the pain knowing his spirit was helping Rhonda, perhaps keeping her alive. Our deepest sympathy for their entire family. Sonja
Comment by Devorah Segall on March 12, 2009 at 6:52pm
What a truly awe -inspiring experience that Sonja has shared. B"H
It is surely a divine window that reveals what is true about the life of souls. And what is being shared here about Derrick's music, the way he lived loving-kindness - let it be a blessing to us all to be conscious of the effect we can have in this world and continuing on in the next world.

I'm adding my prayers for Rhonda Kay Black and her mother, Sonja and of course for healing and comfort to Derrick's family and friends.
The light that people can bring into this world is real.
bless us all,
Devorah
PS- Nelson you are a real shiny example of what I am trying to put into words.Thanks on behalf of all of us.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on March 12, 2009 at 5:57pm
Dear Sonja,

I have been praying for your daughter without knowing her name or current condition. Thank you so much for contacting us and for your faith in God. I'll share your story with the Finch family and our entire membership and ask for an intensified prayer vigil for Kay. If you have any pictures of Kay, please post some on your page to help us visualize her in a healthy condition.

We know from personal experience that faith can heal and make whole and we give thanks that prayer is the most direct path to our Creator who does all things

Bless you and your family and may our collective love and faith bathe Kay in the healing Presence of God. As an Angel Derrick will continue to watch over her I'm sure.
Comment by Sonja Abate on March 12, 2009 at 7:09am
I am the mother of Rhonda Kay Black who was critically injured in the auto accident that took the life of Derrick Finch. Today, March 11, she still remains in the hospital with many complications. The first week it was a fight for survival. No one thought she would pull through. She suffers from a massive brain injury, five scull and facial fractures, broken neck and ribs, loss of one finger and now has pulmonary emboli in both lungs. She is at great risk for a stroke or heart attack but she is conscious and remains strong in the fervant hope she will over come all of this.

Several days ago she learned Derrick was a black man. What she told us was stunning but not surprising to me. She said a black man sat silently at her bedside for several days, with his hand on the bed rail watching her. On the other side of her bed was a young black girl of 5-7 years old. She too, sat silently next to her bed. She could not understand why this man and little girl were in her room. I think it was he who saved her life. He was watching over her and refused to let her die.

The first week after the accident, I would come home from the hospital late at nigtht and listen to his music on MySpace. It was consoling. Rhonda's favorite music is jazz. It is so ironic.

She will be months in rehab before she finally comes home but I know she is going to make it. Hundreds of people are praying for her. She has a strong will.

Sonja Abate
Comment by Phat Man Dee on March 3, 2009 at 3:41pm
I didn't know him, but reading all of these I wish I had, my prayers and all my love to all of his friends and family, I can't imagine the pain you must be going through. May God bless and keep you and may he be at peace, what a terrible loss for the world.
Comment by Max Leake on March 3, 2009 at 3:30pm
My condolences to Derrick's family and friends. Derrick was one of nicest and most gifted people I have had the pleasure to hang with. I know he was really excited about being in LA. I never knew about his reasons for waiting to get his doctorate, but now that I know it doesn't surprise me at all.

Be in peace Derrick!
Comment by Valerio Gianferro on March 3, 2009 at 12:41pm
I do not know Mr Finch personally but I want to do condolences to his family!!!

By All Sixlips quintet!!
Comment by Dan Wasson on March 3, 2009 at 5:06am
Spriggs Watson Funeral Home
720 N Lang Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Phone Number: (412) 243-8080

Wednesday March 5

(maybe call as I'm not 100% sure)
Comment by Donna Bailey on March 3, 2009 at 2:03am
What a tragic loss. My deepest condolences to Derrick, his family and those who knew and loved him.
Comment by Ashley on March 3, 2009 at 1:21am
OMG!!! I feel so bad. I might not of known him but when a person dies I feel as though i should do something, so i am going to say to his family that you have my respect for this man and i hope all goes well!!!

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