Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Harold Betters


            Not only is it about time I wrote something but way past time for another Trombone Hero. I might have mentioned before that Pittsburgh was a great place to grow up for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was that it was such a great place for jazz. Just off the top of my head I can recite the names of Roy Eldridge, Mary Lou Williams, Slide Hampton, George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Errol Garner, Dodo Marmarosa and Billy Strayhorn as all being from the Pittsburgh. And if you played trombone, Matty Shiner, the low brass teacher at Duquesne University was world famous and a lot of his former students ended up teaching in the area. I was lucky enough to have been taught by one of them, Jack Lapato.  When Maynard Ferguson started touring the States again in the early '70s he came to Pittsburgh a lot, possibly because one of his trombonists was a local, Randy Purcell - a fabulous player who, sadly, died fairly young a couple of years ago. But one of the undisputed kings of the local Pittsburgh jazz scene was a guy named Harold Betters whose trombone could be heard for 17 years at a club in Shadyside called "The Encore." Like most jazz clubs it's long been closed and I read it's now a lingerie shop, which eases the pain somewhat.