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, Parlanto 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.
Right now....in a land known as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, there sits, at her 12 year old desktop imac, a little phat girl who has dreamed of singing in Europe for the past 25 years. Since the birth of her dream, she has studied and made music with Pittsburgh jazz greats, ballet orchestra cellists, vocal teachers of great renown, medieval German bagpipers, Afro Cuban dance bands, Puerto Rican bomba bands, Egyptian classical and electronic composers, Middle Eastern master percussionists, Afro Latin master percussionists, gospel choirs, punk rock circus side show bands, heavy metal mavens, social justice singers, SubGenius spiritualists, hip hop producers, flamenca guitaristas, burgeoning rock operas about Burning Man, complaint choirs, I even led a Pan Spiritual Multi Lingual choir at Sankofa last year and we backed them all up with my jazz band, the Cultural District!!! I give thanks every day for the AMAZING power of the Lord, the Lady and Bob.... I am a pan spiritualist, I love God and the Goddess in all their forms and I feel blessed by everything every day. I was alienated as a child, felt bullied (was bullied) for being fat, weird, Jewish.... you name it.... small town, middle of Pennsylvania.... you know.... and as I grew I have come to understand we are ALL made to feel "less than" for some reason or another. Some friends of mine, it's because they're Black and we live in an inherently racist world with a ton of work left to do, some beautiful new friends of mine in Puerto Rico apparently STILL don't have the right to vote cuz of some CRAZY OLD racist laws on the books, some for religious, sexual orientation or economic bias, there are so many reasons for people to hate you in this world.... BUT I DIGRESS..... As an adult, I have turned the hurt and shame of being me around into joyous celebration of self and those around me through my music and art and it has allowed me to see the beauty of everyone else, I love language, culture, music, the flavor of a people can be heard in their songs and I want to sing with them ....
Here is example of the kind of videos I would make in Europe, on bridges.... this one I am on the Smithfield Street Bridge, down the street from my house:
As of this posting I am 22 hours from my deadline, at 10 AM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) tomorrow, my kickstarter campaign expires and if I don't get it all, I get nothing.... I am so close to this that I can hear the accordions in Rome and the jazz trumpeters in Belgium..... and the bridges are singing in my mind's ear..... I just added some amazing last minute rewards.... music listening sessions with my bassist/producer/arranger Tony DePaolis, you can choose ANY RECORD YOU LIKE from his massive and seriously eclectic catalogue of vinyl (this comes with a wonderful souvenir of the session), glass figurines by Ed Pinto accompanied by my poetry, a photo shoot with me as co model and stylist with photographer Erica Dilcer, Saturday morning cartoon watching parties with Tommy Amoeba and I in our home with overly sugared cereal, laser printed clutch zippered wallets by Suz Pisano, Phat Man Dee jewelry by Angela Rocco..... or go whole hog and book my band for a special event, private party, wedding, Bas Mitzvah band.... (though if it's for a Bas Mitzvah, it won't really be "whole hog", I can keep it kosher...) you can see some pictures and look at the updates here:
Please help me make this reality. I love living in a world with you. We're all weirdoes and freaks and artists and we need to support each other. Every little bit counts, and if you don't have a couple bucks to send....share a link to someone who might. If you already have, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I can't wait to post the videos we will be making across Europe.....I have $1557 left to raise from my budget of $16,200, that means FOURTEEN THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY THREE DOLLARS has been raised by wonderful people who want to see me sing in Europe..... THAT IS AMAZING!!!! Still need a little bit more to toss me over the edge....
One love, I am ever grateful for the love and support we share together in this mad mad world we call home....
PS The 20th Annual Ides of March March is this Sunday March 15, 2015, we meet at 12th and Carson, South Side, Birmingham Square, Pittsburgh, PA Fly your freak flag high and put on the dog! Bring a drum and beat the gong soundly!