|The Pink Poodle Jazz Cafe offered the finest in Pittsburgh Jazz!|
Inventor of: Musique Concrete
Edgard Varese -
The Pink Poodle Jazz Cafe, was a job I took just to get closer to the jazz music scene in Pittsburgh, when I was 21. Started out as a waiter, then worked my way to cook, and beyond to manager.. Because of my managerial position was lucky to meet club owners from some of the prominent and historic jazz clubs in Pittsburgh, including: Birdie Dunlap (Hurricane), John Hyman (Top Shelf), Bobby Davis (Encore), Jim Hunter (Zebra Room), and many others. My affiliation with these people took me to the last of the "all night jazz clubs" in Pittsburgh called : The Crescendo, which has since closed it's doors. If you came to the city, this is where you played after your gig. I was lucky to have experienced this before it ended.
The first 3 months I was there, the club booked a drummer/bandleader named Joe Harris (played with Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald) to play three times a week It was a great job to be existing in the same place as that music. I even moved to Lawrenceville to be closer. He brought in musicians like: Rande Purcell (trombone player from Maynard Fergusons band, who I already knew from high school), Nathan Davis, (saxophone) Rabbit Barnes, (vibraphone) Michelle Benson, (singer) Spider Rondinelli, (drummer) Dr. Wilson, Joe Negri, (guitar) Johnny Costa, Benny Benack, Don Aquilo, Jean Ludwig, James Johnson, George Ragsdale, Geri Allen, (keyboard or piano) Carl Black, (guitar) Cycil Brooks, (percussionist) Dave Budway, (piano) Dave Pellow, (bass) Leonard Johnson, (keyboard) and probably a bunch more horn players I've left out. Chris Sullivan was one of the performers, (bass guitar) who remembered me when it was time to put the Neon Craze band together. He was in charge of hiring and I was one of his first calls!
Joe Harris, (teaching at Pitt University) a guy named Lou Brock started
playing at the Poodle. While cleaning the kitchen one Saturday morning,
Lou came in to do a free matinee to enhance his nightly draw, and we got
to talking. Next thing you know, I'm on stage and we're jamming. We just
started playing and didn't stop till we got thirsty. This turned regular
and was the beginning of my professional drum set experience. Once, way
before I thought I was ready, he walked off stage during one of my
normally 4 bar drum solos, forcing me to play an extended solo! My boss,
the owner was very impressed at my hidden musical abilities, and treated
me much better after that. Lou played a
big old B-3 organ, and was very animated as he attacked the pedals and
keys. The main thing he taught me was "letting go with all
fours". A concept that would require further explanation, though
suits me quite well in my attempt to drum music.
experience from the Pink Poodle Jazz Cafe led almost immediately to my
first full time job with Slate and Pearl, a
six night a week gig with bandleader and guitar player: Carl Black. (from
Danny and the Jrs.)
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