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ongoing events about walt harper and his legacy

 • Jazz Pianist • Night Club Owner • Businessman • Recording Artist • Impresario •


 

July 3, 1926 - October 25, 2006

To all of the friends of Walt Harper and his music. Thank all of you for your ongoing support of Walt's music. There will continue to be many events in honor of Walt's legacy to the world of Jazz. So keep in touch with his site for updates and news!

All the best,

The Harper Family

 

Tribute to Walt Harper: 2,000 people turned out for this wonderful event in Highland Park!

MANCHESTER CRAFTSMEN'S GUILD PRESENTS: "A TRIBUTE TO WALT HARPER AS PART OF THE DUQUESNE LIGHT SUMMER JAZZ SERIES - SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2007 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

A Tribute to Pittsburgh Jazz Legend Walt Harper August 12, 2007 at 5:00 p.m. at the Highland Park Reservoir in Pittsburgh. This concert is free and open to the public, in part to CITIPARKS' Reservoir of Jazz series. The first portion of the evening features the Walt Harper Tribute Band, paying homage to the legendary Pittsburgh pianist. The band is comprised of the members that Harper last played with, including: Don Aliquo on saxophone, George Thompson on saxophone, Duke Spaulding on piano, Mark Perna on bass and John Smith on drums. Together, the musicians will perform some of Harper's small band tunes.

The second half of the evening continues with the popular local band, The Burgh Big Band under the direction of Dale Hertrick. The guys will take on Harper's big band repertoire, which consists of the charts that were created for Harper's last recording. Collectively, the evening will be a celebration of Harper's talent, creativity and passion for Jazz music.

 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Arts & Entertainment
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Steve Mellon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Walt Harper is part of the legacy of Pittsburgh jazz scene, and not just the Hill District's Crawford Grill.

COMMENTARY: Harper's Legacy

Although I do not reside in Pittsburgh (but grew up there), through the convenience of the Internet I was afforded the wonderful opportunity of reading Kevin Kirkland's noteworthy July 1 article ("Long-dormant center of Hill jazz scene seeks a new life") on reminiscences of the legendary jazz spot—The Crawford Grill.

In discussing the "Grill" during the heyday of the Hill District and how pivotal this club was to the world-class environment of jazz at a time when Pittsburgh was a facile crossroads to Chicago or New York, the name of the late Pittsburgh jazz legend pianist/nightclub owner Walt Harper certainly bears mentioning.

The early Crawford Grill years were a time when Harper was an integral part, not only to the Grill itself but also to the early growth and development of jazz in that city.

As a talent who chose to remain in his hometown of Pittsburgh, he and his group were the "house band" at the Crawford Grill for years in the 1950s and 1960s, and at that time he brought with him into the club an integrated following from the many white colleges, fraternity dates and high school proms that he had played very early on in his career.

This aggregate of jazz lovers had now gone on to become a part of the young corporate and social elite of Pittsburgh, and they flocked to the Crawford Grill and followed him there in droves. So, it should be noted that Harper had a lot to do with much of the cross-over appeal that was apparent in the Grill during those early years.

Mr. Kirkland also mentioned that by 1968 events transpired, e.g. the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and the riots that followed, that were the beginning of the end for the Grill and that "Whites were increasingly afraid to come in." While this was certainly the unfortunate sequence of events, let us not forget that in 1969 Walt Harper opened up one of two legendary jazz clubs that he owned—Walt Harper's Attic in Market Square. Jazz lovers lined up around the block to hear many of the biggest names in jazz play in this historic club. Of course, later on in the 1980s Harper would once again go on to become the owner of Harper's Jazz Club in Oxford Centre, thereby duplicating and furthering his earlier successes. But, many of these seeds leading to his later accomplishments were sown with his early tenure at the Crawford Grill.

After a life filled with many musical accomplishments, Walt Harper sadly left us last October, but this month, which would have marked my dad's 81st birthday, I think it is appropriate to remember that Walt Harper was a true legend of jazz—especially to the Pittsburgh environment. If there are jazz clubs in heaven, I would like to think that he has one up and running—successfully!

Sharynn Harper
New York City

 

©2016 Sharynn Harper

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