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.
Hello, Sean. I'm familiar with some of your work, although I've probably read more in Down Beat magazine about you that actually heard your recordings. I know that your a tough trumpet player. Dr. Nelson Harrison recommended I contact you, and I thought that was a good idea!
I was enthralled by the brilliance of your composition "Oliver, Master Builder," and the rendition you and Mission Statement premiered at the MCAI anniversary tribute to Oliver Byrd and Thad Mosley. It is still resonating in my mind's ear a month later. I was reminded of playwright Henrik Ibsen's drama, "The Masterbuilder." The protagonist aspired to "build a castle in the air with a firm foundation." Your piece achieved that in spectacular musical terms. Even your body language propelled the idea. I can still see you, feet firmly planted, knees slightly bent, while the surge of the music thrust your torso and the bell of your horn upward as you took the melody into a stratospheric range. Talk about being "blown away!"
I was talking to a friend who is excited about your having agreed to play for the CUBM fundraiser next Feb., and I told her about "The Master Builder." She and her husband are on the board, and I promised I would let you know that they hope you will include it on your play list for that event. It is a blessing to have you in our midst.
How is it going? Hope all is well. Two weeks back I spent some time with Gerald Wilson for his 90th birthday. He is still kicking it
big time! You should hear the beautiful recording we made that evening at the Byham.
All my best to you,
Hey Sean! I enjoyed playing with you last week, and hopefully we'll do something together again soon! Good luck with your gigs for the rest of the Summer, and the rest of the year. You're definitely one of my favorite trumpet players. I started on brass instruments myself, even before guitar.