Pittsburgh Jazz

Arts & Culture
3:30 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Pittsburgh Jazz Festival Puts Steel City On International Stage

One Pittsburgh summer tradition, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, is behind us and another one is ahead – the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival.

The fourth annual celebration of jazz has grown since it started and has attracted a wide audience that benefits the region.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:17 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Pittsburgh Jazz Performers: Past And Present

Dianne Reeves at Carnegie Hall in 2011.
Credit Joella Marano / Flickr

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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Rediscovering Pittsburgh's Ragtime Roots

Pittsburgh's rich jazz history documented here on Centre Avenue.
Credit Boring Pittsburgh / flickr

Recently rediscovered compositions of early 20th century ragtime tunes will be presented by the Allegheny City Ragtime Orchestra as tribute to the rich musical history of Pittsburgh.

Noted pianist and conductor Tom Roberts says it took some digging to piece together Pittsburgh’s jazz history between Stephen Foster and bebop, but results reveal a wealth of contributions by local musicians.

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