Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
The community at large - and the musicians of today - have virtually no way of experiencing the types of cultural events that used to occur in nightclubs, dances featuring live music, jam sessions, fashion shows, concerts, etc. All such events used to be serviced by African-American musicians who were members of Musicians Local 471, American Federation of Musicians. Musicians such as Mary Lou Williams, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Brown and Art Blakey, who in later years took Pittsburgh’s brand of jazz to the world, joined the union and cut their musical teeth practicing, rehearsing, socializing, and learning from one another. The Musicians Club that they organized in the Hill District used to serve as a social center where musicians met, discussed business, honed their musical skills and celebrated and nurtured their culture. At times, musicians such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillespie visited the club and joined in jam sessions after playing in the major clubs and halls of the city. The lively jam sessions at the Musicians Club, often with white musicians sitting in, attracted standing room only, racially mixed crowds that listened to some of the best jazz the country had to offer. The Musicians Club practiced its own form of integration long before government mandates required it.
AAJPSP aims to serve as a modern incarnation of the old Musicians Club. By combining the expertise of older musicians with the creativity of younger musicians in front of audiences with varying degrees of familiarity with the jazz art form, AAJPSP will give local musicians and audience members alike ongoing venues for jazz appreciation that are currently unavailable in Pittsburgh.
The African-American Jazz
Preservation Society of Pittsburgh