Pittsburgh's Black Jazz Musicians Union
Every Saturday, a group of local musicians gathers in the auditorium of the Homewood Library to carry on Pittsburgh’s rich jazz tradition. They are the descendants of the Black Musician’s Union, a collection of pianists, drummers, and other performers who worked Pittsburgh’s clubs and dissolved in the 1960s.
Many of the clubs and musicians are long gone, but the stories of this small group continue to thrive, and they're now seeing increased attention because of a new film. Anthology: Local #471 Musicians Union, is about the now-defunct union and some of its more famous members.
With the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival starting next week, it was the perfect time for Essential Pittsburgh to look back at Pittsburgh’s rich jazz history. Labor historian Charles McCollester and Jackie Young, whose father Harold founded the local jazz group talked about how the Black Musician’s Union was established.
“The 460 (the original musician’s union) just didn’t really want to represent the black musicians, they didn’t want to give them their share of gigs, they didn’t want to represent them if they had some type of conflict, so that’s why the 471 was erected in the first place.”
McCollester talked about the importance of the 471 in the local jazz scene.