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Hello Family: Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month
I just came back from a drive back home.
For those of you who know me, that means through the Allegheny Mountains of western Maryland and Pennsylvania; to Pittsburgh PA, or as we natives like to call it, “The Burg!” The ride was cool; Nia and I enjoyed traveling through the tunnels. It’s a nice trip in the springtime.
With my brother, we took a ride to our old neighborhood The Hill
District, not far from Oakland; which is where the University of Pittsburgh
is. While up on The Hill, we took Nia to show her the places where funny family stories actually took place. (smile)
In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, I began thinking about the rich history the Hill District
plays in the national landscape of jazz music and the Pittsburgh black arts
scene in general. In its’ heyday, The Hill District was pretty much like Pittsburgh’s version of NYC’s Harlem. And in fact, arguably, (and I’m not the expert, mind you) a Hill District nightclub called The Crawford Grill is The Burg’s version of Harlem’s The Apollo Theater. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crawford_Grill
Many nationally known jazz artists would come in town to play at the formal downtown club, then after the gig, they would go up town to the Crawford Grill to hear local black jazz musicians play. I once heard a
story about DC’s Duke Ellington who was up all night at the Crawford Grill after his performance downtown because he got so into playing the piano, he actually began writing a song. The owner of the Grill, at the time, kept the club open all night, allowing Mr. Ellington to finish composing his song. Again, I’m not the expert, and therefore not sure what the song title is…….Hey… if anyone reading this post knows the name of the song, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog and let us all know the answer!
So, in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, (JAM, LOL) I pay homage to the legacy of The Crawford Grill, in Pittsburgh PA.
I give appreciation to The Crawford Grill and the whole jazz musical scene on The Hill because it gave birth to and helped fuel the development of the entire black arts scene in Pittsburgh during the 1960s and 1970s; of
which many of you know, I grew up in. If the Crawford Grill and other clubs like it had not existed, perhaps
opportunities like being in the PBTDE would not have existed for me and others.
Of course, we have the entire month to appreciate jazz and its influence on the cultural traditions of our country. We all know that jazz music is a true American art form. The cool thing is that we can all share in the stories. Take some time this month to reflect on the importance of jazz music from your community and family. If you’d like to share those stories, feel free to post your memories in the comment section of my blog!
If you need some resources on how to celebrate jazz music with your friends and family this month, check out:
And of course, if you want to know what’s happening specifically in The Burg, check out my profile at
Peace and Blessings,