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.
Brother and sister still live here, so I come at least once a year to visit.
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
You guys and women ALL are amazing. The jazz in Pittsburgh is like no other.
Favorite Jazz Radio or media station
Can't get them up here in the cold north - but you had tons more snow than we did this year. This winter it snowed 4 times in Toronto, not more than 4 inches each time. We were really blessed. Sorry you guys had to do so much shoveling this year. Perhaps it will be our turn NEXT year!
Favorite Pittsburgh Jazz Venue
For you oldies, it used to be Walt Harper's Attic. I used to walk into the place and the first song afterward he played was: "We almost made it to the top, didn't we . . .Andrea?" Used to make me always feel special. Loved the stainless steel dance floor which I made very good use of.
Remember Oscar Peterson playing there live. It was one of my first stops in the evening, and always my last. Then Walt moved to Grant Streeet, and things were just a little different.
Moved back to Canada and settled in Toronto when I was 22. Started selling pharmaceuticals - did that for 20 years. Then after a few different things, I found my true love - film making. I was just Exec Prod for a short coming out in April - called God's I Pod. An amazing experience. Why did I sell drugs all those years when I could have been pursuing my dreams? Now teaching Film making at my church.