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PITTSBURGH JAZZ

 

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 LRob on March 3, 2009 at 1:11am
Comment by LRob on March 3, 2009 at 12:59am
Comment by George V Johnson Jr. on March 3, 2009 at 12:38am
Photobucket

Dear Derrick

I will miss your laughter, soulful playing and beautiful heart. Whenever whe shared the stage together it was a great feeling. 'A Night In Tunisia" was our first and last. It is amazing how people who never met could make such beautiful music. Your name and spirit will live forever.

God Bless
George V Johnson Jr.

http://washingtondcjazznetwork.ning.com
Comment by Kevin H on March 2, 2009 at 11:57pm
Word's cannot express the feeling of loss, Derrick was a friend and fellow jazz pianist. My condolences goes out to his family.
Comment by Maryellen Hayden on March 1, 2009 at 4:36am
I found this link online with Derrick playing. Copy and paste it into your browser. Maybe someone with more technical skill can put it on this site.
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=205517195
Comment by Rosie from L.A., CA on February 26, 2009 at 11:04pm
My boyfriend and I had the pleasure of meeting Derrick after listening to his music when he played at the Pasadena Jazz Institute in Pasadena, CA. He was absolutely awesome. As we left the venue, Derrick was standing outside during a break. We walked up to him to tell him how much we enjoyed his music. He was so pleasant, very approachable, great personality. He talked about his work and school. A very interesting man. After that, he always took the time to tell us hello when he would see us in the audience. We noticed he wasnt around and ran into him again during New Years at PJI. We told him we missed seeing him and he mentioned he was now playing at the Brazilian Restaurant across the walkway (from PJI). We showed up the next night. We were able to get a table right near him (a trio). During his break he came and shared a glass of wine with us. No matter how busy he was, he always said hello. We've only had the pleasure of listening to Derrick's music for maybe a year or so. When he told us he wanted to return to Pittsburgh, I told him we would definitely miss his music. Unbelievable tragedy. An amazing talent. A beautiful soul. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. You had many fans in Los Angeles. We'll miss you Derrick. Your fans, Rosie & Tom, L.A.,CA
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on February 24, 2009 at 2:45am
KESQ.com News Services

CATHEDRAL CITY - A man who died in a two-vehicle rollover crash on Interstate 10 near Cathedral City was identified today as a 36-year-old jazz pianist from Los Angeles.

Derrick Raymond Finch was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which was reported at 4:21 p.m. Tuesday on the eastbound freeway near Date Palm Drive.

Finch, who was driving a red 1995 Isuzu Rodeo, apparently changed lanes and struck a red 2004 Honda Santa Fe, causing both motorists to lose control of their vehicles, both of which overturned, said Officer Ramon Perez of the California Highway Patrol.

Finch was thrown from his SUV, even though it appeared he was wearing a seat belt, Perez said.

"Due to the violence of the collision, he was ejected," Perez said.

Rhonda Kay Balck, 48, of La Quinta, was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs for treatment of major injuries, he said.

A hospital official said he could not release her condition.

Finch, who received his doctorate in jazz studies from USC in 2008, was born in Pittsburgh and began playing piano at age 3, according to his MySpace page and other Web sites.
Comment by LRob on February 23, 2009 at 7:20am
I am cousin of Derrick Finch. Thank You to all


Songwriter/Musician
Comment by Maryellen Hayden on February 22, 2009 at 3:28am
Oh I am so distraught about this...I just ca't believe it. If there was one brother we needed in this world it was Derrick. He was so talented, his playing so light. Oh he did not deserve this- do you all know why it took him till 36 to study in grad school? He gave up his studies and came home to help his family and mentor his brothers when his father died. He was such a big supporter of so many people, and I remember when I was so upset at the way things were going at the union, he would just come over and say, come on, I know what you need... And he would take me out for ice cream! And so I would go on, the next day, and struggle some more.

Some holes left in your heart are impossible to fill. Oh, I am so sorry for his mother and his family. I just can't believe this. I sure hope there's a grad school for Derrick on the other side, it really was his dream. And he really would have come home, too.
Comment by Frank T. Williams IV (Spark Plug) on February 21, 2009 at 9:31pm
Derrick was a friend of mine, though I hadn't seen him in a little while. I met him in Washington D. C. when he was in the area in a few years ago. We'd play together in jam sessions and gigs. I was actually sad when he when off to Los Angeles to pursue his Doctorate though I knew it was a big part of his dream for his life. He always talked about moving back to Pennsylvania though. My wife and I took a vacation and went to LA. We met up with Derrick and had lunch together. He was such a warm cat with a good since of humor,.... just a joy to be around. I always would try to call or email him after than. We'd lost touch after a while recently. I always thought that we would get together and play again, and/or just hang out. Derrick always had a place in my heart and my home whenever he would visit DC. He will always have a place in my heart. I miss him. I never thought that I would never see him in human form again. Soooooo sorry for his loss. My condolences to his family. He was truely a bright star and a beautiful personality.

Peace and Love Derrick,
My friend.

Frank T. Williams IV

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