Pittsburgh has been home to so many of the musicians, arrangers and composers that created the music we know today as jazz. While most people know of the Pittsburgh-born legends such as George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Strayhorn and Billy Eckstein; with our first class of Pittsburgh Jazz Legends in 2008, MCG Jazz paid tribute to the jazz artisans that stayed in Pittsburgh and have kept the hometown “Jazz Scene” vibrant and world-class. These musicians have been mentor both on and off the bandstand to many generations of jazz musicians.
Don Aliquo, Sr., Chuck Austin (d. 2012), Harold Betters, Cecil Brooks II, Frank Cunimondo, Joe Dallas, Nelson Harrison, Roger Humphries, James Johnson, Jr., Gene Ludwig (d. 2010) Art Nance, Joe Negri, George “Duke” Spaulding, J. Warren Watson, and John Wilson.
At honoring ceremonies on November 14, 2008 and March 3, 2012, and, most recently, September 28, 2013, the 20 Legends were presented with a medallion and the esteemed title of Pittsburgh Jazz Legend. The Pittsburgh Jazz Legends program continues with the new class of Legends, who have been voted on by previous inductees.
Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institute we have captured oral histories of 18 Legends with future classes to be included. A composite with footage from those oral histories was displayed at our Jazz Legends Party on September 28.
2013 Inductees: Michele Bensen, Kenny Blake, Etta Cox, Al Dowe, and Jim Guerra.