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.
This month is exactly two years ago that I met Gary "Brotherman" Branchaud. Not only one of the most talented bass players on the planet but also one of the coolest cats on earth! I have had the honor and the blessing of doing many many shows with Gary and more importantly, we have had some wonderful times together as friends. One of the best and many gifts that The Lord so graciously bestowed upon me when I moved to Nashville is the "Gift of Friendship." I have met the most wonderful people since I moved here to Tennessee. I have lived all over the Country but some of the nicest people on the planet live right here in Tennessee. Of course, a person always has those friends he/she feels closest to and for me I would call those friends my family. I place Brotherman right at the top three for me. He has been not only supportive, selfless, respectful and appreciative of my efforts and challenges that I have had to face as an artist in Nashville but more importantly, he has been my friend and part of my family. Brotherman and I have attended and spoken at funerals together, dined at dinners and special occasions together, lunch meetings and even sat on my living room floor together going over music that I should consider doing in the studio and on stage. I tell you these things so you know that this blog is especially difficult for me to write as I feel the sadness and bourden of letting the Nashville Music Community know that at this time, Brotherman is facing very difficult health issues. He is in a wheel chair and could use all of the love, friendship, company and prayers he can get from his fellow Nashville Musicians and fellow musicians around the world. For we are not only musicians, we are a family. A very loving, sensitive, giving and talented family called "The Music Industry." There are those that are not musicians and seem to run the industry with money. No matter what they do, or who they do it to, they are not musicians, performer or writers and they cannot take away from us the love, respect, admiration and friendship we have for and with one another. There are so many entertainers including myself that have gone through horrific health issues this year. As musicians, there are many who do not have Medical Insurance. This is a very hard and sad time for many in the music family. Lets reach out to one another and love eachother through this difficult time and I ask those of you who do know Brotherman to also reach out to him at this time. He is such a very good man with so much love and so much talent. I send all my Brothers and Sisters in the music family all my love and prayers.