“Pittsburgh has been at the epicenter of jazz since the 1930s when all the great big bands of the era would stop in the city, sometimes for as long as a month, to perform on their way from New York City to Chicago,” said Marty Ashby, Executive Producer of MCG Jazz. “The significant number of jazz greats who got their start in Pittsburgh is due, in part, to this exposure. We are especially grateful for the corporate support for this project from BNY Mellon.”
Over the past century, cultural diversity coupled with robust philanthropic support for the Arts in the Pittsburgh region has laid the foundation for jazz to flourish and has produced many of the greatest jazz masters the world has ever know. This recording celebrates some of the local musicians, composers and arrangers that have helped bring jazz into the 21st century.
Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy features Pittsburgh’s extraordinary 10-piece 21st Century Swing Band for 15 selections, honoring 15 Pittsburgh jazz legends. Mike Tomaro and John Wilson arranged the big band tracks, which feature guest appearances by Joe Negri on guitar and John Wilson on Flugelhorn.
“Ray’s Idea” and “Two RB’s” are dedicated to bassist and composer Ray Brown. A medley of “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses” honors Henry Mancini. Legendary drummer Roger Humphries pays tribute to two of his idols, Art Blakey and Kenny Clarke on “One By One.” Erroll Garner’s famous tune, “Misty,”
was selected for his dedication. Guitarists honored include Joe Pass and Barry Galbraith with a Joe Negri solo performance of “Skylark” and George Benson by Marty Ashby on “My Latin Brother.” Pittsburgh favorite, Maureen Budway pays homage to vocalists Dakota Staton and Maxine Sullivan and composer Billy Strayhorn on her three selections: “County Man,” “Loch Lomond” and “Something to Live For.” “Syl-o-gism” was chosen to honor “the lady who swings the band,” Mary Lou Williams and “Rockin’ Chair” was an obvious choice for showcasing trumpeter Roy Eldridge. The Turrentine brothers are represented as well. Stanley Turrentine’s composition “Sugar” highlights the undeniable style of “Mr. T.” The bluesy “June Bug” and “Too Clean” by Tommy Turrentine epitomize the Pittsburgh jazz/blues sound.
Founded in 1998, the 21st Century Swing Band had its premiere performance on New Year’s Eve as part of First Night® Pittsburgh ’99. In a memorable session at one of Pittsburgh’s most famous landmarks, the Westin William Penn Hotel, MCG Jazz executive producer Marty Ashby gathered some of the best jazz musicians and educators in western Pennsylvania. The band includes Maureen Budway, vocals; Mike Tomaro, flute soprano and tenor saxophones; Jim Guerra, flute, alto and baritone saxophones; Steve Hawk and James Moore, trumpets; Jay Ashby, trombone and percussion; Max Leake, keyboard; Dwayne Dolphin, bass; and Roger Humphries, drums.
Since its inception, this 10-piece band has performed regionally as part of the Frick Art & Historical Center’s Music for Exhibitions, Jazz at Seven Springs Festival, Slippery Rock University Jazz Festival, Penn State University Fayette, Coal and Coke Heritage Festival, the Pittsburgh G-20 “Welcome to the World” opening reception at Heinz Field and the Animal Crackers Jazz Series at the Racine Zoo in Racine, WI.
Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy features this extraordinary 10-piece 21st Century Swing Band for 15 selections, honoring 15 Pittsburgh jazz legends. Mike Tomaro and John Wilson arranged the big band tracks, which feature guest appearances by Joe Negri on guitar and John Wilson on Flugelhorn.
Millennium Sing, the band’s first CD, with its 13 hot vocal and instrumental selections proves the timeless music from America’s Swing era of the 1940’s is alive and well in the new millennium.
About MCG Jazz:
MCG Jazz is a social enterprise supporting the education programs of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a nonprofit, in Pittsburgh, PA whose mission is to preserve, present, and promote jazz. MCG Jazz brings audiences together with jazz artists in its 350 seat music hall for innovative performances and recordings. Through its performances, MCG Jazz celebrates the rich history and future of jazz music and contributes to the overall cultural diversity of the region. The live recordings produced allow MCG Jazz to reach a national and international audience. To date, MCG Jazz has released 38 CDs and DVDs on its independent jazz label and has won four GRAMMY® Awards with artists such as Nancy Wilson, Paquito D’Rivera, and the Count Basie Orchestra. MCG Jazz’ educational programs provide educators and students with the opportunity to attend live jazz performances and participate in professional development, workshops and lectures with leading artists, educators and administrators from the jazz field.