Unearthed Video Recordings Have Strong Pittsburgh Influence

Article excerpt

An upcoming series of DVDs of jazz legends also offers a great look at some of Pittsburgh's biggest names in the music.

The first nine recordings of "Jazz Icons" will be released Sept. 26. It is the work of Reelin' in the Years Productions LLC, a San Diego film company with more than 10,000 hours of footage in a number of genres.

What makes these releases stand out is that they are not re- issues. They are not something you have had sitting around on VHS tapes for years.

No, they are new looks that emphasize why some classic stars never lose their gleam.

There is nothing quite so individual as the joy on Art Blakey's face as he leads the Jazz Messengers with Lee Morgan and Benny Golson in a concert in Holland in 1958. Then there is Buddy Rich, leading his big band in Holland in 1978 with a look that drives the band as much as his drums do.

Besides the DVD featuring Blakey and the Messengers, the collection also includes performances by stars with their roots here:

A young Joe Harris is the drummer with the Quincy Jones Band in a recording from Holland in 1960.

Bassist Ray Brown shows up with Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie.

Kenny Clarke, a kingpin in bebop drumming, is co-leader of a big band behind Gillespie in a concert from 1970.

"Joe Harris is one of the important jazz drummers and is thought of more for his work with Diz in the '40s and '50s," says Don Sickler, a trumpeter/arranger who ended up an associate producer/ consultant on the project. "When I saw him there with Quincy, I was floored."

Sickler is inviting Harris to a "Jazz Icons" press party at New York City's Jazz @ Lincoln Center on Oct. 3 and hopes to use the event to awaken the uninitiated to his work. Harris, who lives in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh, says he is excited about the get-together and plans to use the time to check up on a few musical friends from New York. …