Pittsburgh’s contributions to the uniquely American art form of jazz are essential to its national narrative. Fleeing the Jim Crow South in the twentieth century, African American migration to the industrial North brought musical roots that would lay the foundation for jazz culture in the Steel City. As migrant workers entered the factories of Pittsburgh, juke joints and nightclubs opened in the segregated neighborhoods of the Hill District, Northside and East Liberty. The scene fostered numerous legends, including Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn, George Benson, Erroll Garner and Earl “Fatha” Hines. The music is sustained today in the practice rooms of the city’s universities and by groups such as the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and the African American Music Institute. Authors Richard Gazarik and Karen Anthony Cole chart the swinging history of jazz in Pittsburgh.
Karen Anthony Cole is a lifetime musician and music educator in Western Pennsylvania. She is a retired high school band director, having taught and mentored students in marching, symphonic and jazz band and jazz history electives.
Richard Gazarik is journalist and author. He has won awards for his writing and investigative reporting into public and corporate corruption in Pennsylvania.
Description courtesy of the History Press.
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