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AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS

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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

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr On The Importance Of Jazz

On the Importance of Jazz

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Opening Address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life's difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.

In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 20, 2016 at 3:54am

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 19, 2016 at 7:36pm

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 19, 2016 at 7:29pm
Truth Behind MLK Jr. Jazz Quote Uncovered

A professor and alumnus from William Paterson University have uncovered the truth behind Martin Luther King Jr's only published commentary on jazz.

Until now the quote has been misattributed as being from a speech King gave at the inaugural Berlin Jazz Festival in 1964. Professor David Demsey and Bruce Jackson have discovered that King was never at the festival; King's thoughts on jazz served as the foreword for the event's printed program. 

"Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved," part of King's statement reads. "Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially that broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone toward all of these."

Jackson said it took a few years to complete the research. Click here to read King's quote in its entirety and an article from DownBeat magazine on Demsey's and Jackson's discovery.


More from Wayne Patch

"Professor Demsey and I were talking about how great it would have been to hear King's speech," Jackson said. He started to research the quote and King's presence at the festival.

Eventually, Jackson found a copy of a letter sent to King from one of the representatives of the festival dated July 29, 1964, that was being auctioned off with other papers of King's. The letter asked King if he could write a few paragraphs as a foreword to the festival's program. Although King was in Europe at the time, he could not attend the festival.

"That's when I realized he wrote it and didn't say it," Jackson said. "It corrects something that was assumed in history. This is the only time he reflected publicly on jazz. He's declaring that jazz has a universal feeling to it, that everybody gets the blues and everybody gets down and that everybody needs to keep clapping their hands because jazz, and music in general, can be a part of what makes someone happy."

Comment by Abby Mendelson on January 18, 2016 at 10:27pm

He hardly needs my vote, but this is simply wonderful.

He was, simply, the greatest American of my lifetime.

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