The artists listed here have contributed to Pittsburgh's reputation as one of the most important cities in the history of jazz.
Saying that a musician is a Pittsburgh jazz musician might mean various things:
- born here but raised elsewhere (e.g., Paul Chambers)
- born elsewhere but raised here (e.g., Mary Lou Williams)
- from a Pittsburgh suburb or exurb (e.g., Vinnie Colaiuta or Slide Hampton)
- attended school or taught here (e.g., Geri Allen or Sean Jones)
- spent a significant part of career here (e.g., Curtis Lundy)
- lived here for just a short while (e.g., Lena Horne)
- moved here late in career (e.g., Richie Cole) and so on.
Internationally Known Pittsburgh Jazz Musicians
The criteria used here to determine whether a jazz musician is “internationally known” is an entry in either Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz or the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed., edited by Barry Kernfeld.
More Pittsburgh Jazz Musicians
Pittsburgh Jazz Music Groups
Group names that simply contain artist names plus the type of group such as the Ahmad Jamal Trio or Roger Humphries Big Band are not listed.
Further Research at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Music Department
Research on the above individuals and groups is a multi-faceted process and might involve using:
- the Books about Pittsburgh Jazz Musicians resource guide which highlights material from the library’s collections.
- research pages created by a music librarian that highlight the careers of The Deuces Wild, Eugenie Baird, Joe Westray, Jon Walton, Mary Lou Williams, an Skip Nelson.
- the library Catalog to search for books, scores, compact discs, vinyl records, and a few cassettes (but please note that not all library catalog records list all performers on a recording.)
- the Tom Lord Jazz Discography, now also available as part of our free online databases.
- the Pittsburgh Music Information File.
- the index of the Maurice Levy Oral History of Music in Pittsburgh (OHMP) collection.
- listening stations to utilize the reference Vinyl Record and CD collections that are kept specifically as an archive of Pittsburgh music: the Pittsburgh Vinyl Record Collection and the Pittsburgh CD Collection.
- librarian Carlos Peña’s Pittsburgh Jazz Records and Beyond, 1950-1985.
- Dave Goodrich’s book Key to the City: A Guide to Pittsburgh Music, History, Entertainment & More! which, among many other things, lists concert engagements by jazz musicians in Pittsburgh between 1928-1954.
- a chapter titled “The Pittsburgh Connection: Stanley Turrentine” in Gene Lees’ book Friends Along the Way: a Journey Through Jazz which provides some lists of significant musicians from the city and speculation from Turrentine and bassist John Heard as to why “a proliferation of artistic creativity…occurred in Pittsburgh.”
- a chapter titled “Steamin’ to the End of the Line” in William Howland Kenney’s book Jazz on the River which documents some of Pittsburgh jazz’s earliest history and specifically profiles Lois Deppe, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Strayhorn and Erroll Garner.
Further Research Online and Outside the Library
- The African American Jazz Preservation Society of Pittsburgh is especially focused on the Musicians Local 471, Pittsburgh’s labor union for African American musicians, and conducted dozens of interviews with its members.
- The late Harold Young’s Jazz Workshop Inc. has instructed hundreds of young musicians. Additionally, they provide concerts and programs to promote and preserve jazz in Pittsburgh.
- The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild hosts performances, produces live recordings, and provides educational programs to promote Pittsburgh jazz. They are home to Stanley Turrentine’s archive. Also, the MCG Jazz Pittsburgh Jazz Legends program pays tribute “to the jazz artisans who stayed in Pittsburgh” and mentored the hometown scene “on and off the bandstand.” It includes: Don Aliquo Sr., Chuck Austin, Michelle Bensen, Harold Betters, Kenny Blake, Cecil Brooks II, Harry D. Clark, Kenneth Cook, Etta Cox, Frank Cunimondo, Joe Dallas, Raymond A. DeFade, Dwayne Dolphin, Al Dowe, Jim Guerra, Nelson Harrison, Roger Humphries, James Johnson Jr., Gene Ludwig, Art Nance, Joe Negri, George “Duke” Spaulding, Judge Warren Watson, and John Wilson.
- Many currently active Pittsburgh jazz musicians plus items of historic interest can be found on trombonist and jazz historian Dr. Nelson Harrison’s Pittsburgh Jazz Network.
- The Pittsburgh Jazz Society, founded by radio DJ Tony Mowod, provides concerts, education opportunities, and maintains a Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame.
- The Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival employs over 140 local musicians each year.
- The radio shows Rhythm Sweet & Hot and especially Saturday Night Jazz with Bob Studebaker on 90.5 FM WESA-Pittsburgh often feature Pittsburgh musicians. Former WDUQ personnel have also created a new streaming station, the Pittsburgh Jazz Channel.
Please contact Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Music Department with any questions, additions, or comments.