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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.

 

WELCOME!

 

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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 Lorraine on February 20, 2009 at 11:08pm
Deepest condolences to his family and group mates. This is definitely a HUGE loss to the jazz industry. I have known Derrick since the 6th grade and since then he has ALWAYS played they keys, and played them with all his heart!!! Even though I didn't speak to him often I knew what he was doing because it always had to do with his music. He was the man or as like he used to say "He's like Coke...He's it"!!!! Rest in Peace D.
Comment by bob studebaker on February 20, 2009 at 4:22pm
My deepest condolences to Derrick's family and all who loved him. I knew Derrick about 10 years ago and will always remember him fondly.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on February 20, 2009 at 1:56pm
I just learned from Dr. Vernell Lillie that Derrick had received his Ph.D. All of us who knew him, his outstanding personality and uprightness are devastated. He was almost like a son to Dr. Lillie.
Comment by SOUTHSIDE JERRY MELLIX on February 20, 2009 at 1:06pm
My condolences to his family, loved ones and friends. I had the opportunity to do only a couple of performances with him when he lived in Pittsburgh. I too could tell then, that this man's talent would take him far in the music industry. I will pass on this sad information to non members of this site that also knew Derrick.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on February 20, 2009 at 12:05am
Man killed in I-10 smashup identified

Colin Atagi • The Desert Sun • February 18, 2009

A Los Angeles man was killed Tuesday after he was thrown from his vehicle along Interstate 10 following a collision with another vehicle, officials said.
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Derrick Raymond Finch, 36, was driving an Isuzu Rodeo in the left lane on eastbound I-10, just west of Date Palm Drive, when it crashed into the center divider about 4:20 p.m.

He is believed to have overcorrected his vehicle and collided with a Hyundai Santa Fe traveling in the No. 2 lane, California Highway Patrol Officer Miguel Guerrero said.

Initial reports indicated that the crash was caused by some kind of “illegal lane change,” however, authorities backed away from that conclusion and said the actual cause has yet to be determined.

“As of right now, until there's further investigation, drugs or alcohol — we don't know if they were a factor,” added Guerrero.

The Hyundai's driver, Rhonda Kay Balck, 48, of La Quinta, was critically injured, officials said.

She was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center for treatment, but her status was not available Tuesday night.

The collision left the Isuzu on its side, while clothing and other debris were scattered across three lanes of the freeway.

Investigators shut down three eastbound lanes for more than two hours while they cleared the scene.

Eastbound traffic was backed up to at least Indian Canyon Drive, according to the Highway Patrol.

All lanes were reopened by 7:30 p.m.
Comment by Paul Thompson on February 19, 2009 at 10:39pm
Another HUGE loss. I made a lot of music with Derrick when he was in Pittsburgh. RIP, my friend.

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