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Dr James T. Johnson, Executive Director
A graduate of Grambling State University, in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education with emphasis on violin. He earned his Masters Degree(1982) and PhD (1988) in Ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh.
While a student at Grambling, he performed with the Grambling College Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Shreveport, Monroe, Ruston and El Dorado Symphony Orchestras. He also developed the Methodist Student Movement Choir for campus students at Grambling, and served as the State Choir Director for the Leadership Training School of the C.M.E. Church.
Dr. Johnson has been a world traveled musician and music educator for over forty years. His travels in music included Belgium, Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana and Canada. As a jazz Pianist, he has performed with several internationally and world-renowned jazz artists. He served as the School Master for the Lakeside School of Music and was an assistant professor at Write State University from 1990 to 1994. He has also been on the part time faculty of Community College of Allegheny County, University Of Pittsburgh, Carlow University, and Duquesne University.
For eight years, he has served as a U.S. Steering Committee Member for the Consortium for International Public Management, Public Policy and Development, and serves as teh Chairman for the Arts and cultural division for the conference. He has served on several arts panels for the state arts council of Pennsylvania. he was elected Vice President of the International Community Management, and hired as a judge monitor for Billboard Magazine.
Dr Johnson writes, composes and directs music in various music mediums including jazz, blues, gospel, spirituals, and European classical music.
Howie Alexander III, Piano, Assistant Director Boys Choir, Jazz Lab Director
Howie Alexander, who hails from the Blackridge section of Wilkinsburg,PA, grew up in a home filled with jazz, along with rhythm & blues and funk from the music collection of a father, who by day was a bank vice president.
Howie took up the piano when he was 15, and 23 years later, with performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Poogie Bell, Ciaro, and the likes of Stanley Turrentine on his resume, the Duquesne University graduate performs as sideman or lead player at clubs and concerts across the city or as far as Monaco. He has been a piano instructor at the Afro-American Music Institute since 1994.
Alexander cites a trio of mentors: James Johnson Jr. of the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood; guitarist Jimmy Ponder, with whom Alexander had his first professional gig at the age of 17; and Nelson Harrison, who played trombone with the Count Basie Orchestra among a long list of jazz accomplishments.
Nelson Harrison, Business Manager
Born and raised in the East End. His schooling was at Crescent Elementary, Baxter Junior High, Westinghouse High (where he's a member of the Wall of Fame), and the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Harrison began his musical career at the age of 13 as a trombonist and bandleader for the Beethoven Bebops 7-piece jazz/dance combo. At the same time, he played for the Junior Pittsburgh Symphony and the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony.
He started playing with bands like the Joe Westray Orchestra, Sonny Gilmer and the Premiers, the Walt Harper Quintet (he recorded "Live at the Attic" with them in 1969), and the Nathan Davis Quintet (he recorded "Makatuka" in 1970 and "Suite for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." in 1971 with Davis). Harrison backed at one time or another? How about Billy Eckstine, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Kenny "Klook" Clarke, Art Blakey, Stanley "Sugar Man" Turrentine, Sam Johnson, Joe Harris, J.C. Moses, Dakota Staton, Lena Horne, and Grover Mitchell?
As a session trombonist, Nelson was a member of the Heinz Hall and Stanley Theatre Stage Orchestras accompanying national acts like Bobby Vinton, Liberace, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ginger Rogers, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Jack Jones, Michele LeGrande, Mel Torme, Perry Como, Nancy Wilson, Melba Moore, Glenn Campbell, and Slide Hampton. He might be best known, though, for playing with the Count Basie Orchestra between 1978-81, touring the US and Japan with vocalists Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Helen Humes, Joe Turner, Eddie Vinson, and Dennis Rowland. He's on their LP "Kansas City Shout."
He produced an original score for the road show of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize winning "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," for the Kuntu Repertory Theatre in 1987. Other scores of his are featured in movies by Georg Sanford Brown and John Russo, and plays by Richard Wright and Rob Penny.
Harrison was the musical director for WQED-TV's award winning "Black Horizons Show," and the on-air host of "Jazz Pittsburgh," an hour-long National Public Radio series produced by WDUQ-FM. He appeared in the TV movie "The Temptations," and is featured on Science and the Outer Streams, a live web cast on "The Metaphysics of Music." Dr. Harrison is also known as the ultimate historian of Pittsburgh jazz. He served as the project advisor for WDUQ's "Steel City Legacy," which focused on the lives of Pittsburgh musical legends Madame Mary Cardwell Dawson, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Eckstine and Billy Strayhorn. He's the founder and online host of The Pittsburgh Jazz Network, a web-based who's who of Pittsburgh boppers.
And as a side bar, he's an inventor, too. He come up with the horn he's now famed for blowing, the "Trombetto from the Ghetto," as he calls it. It's a brass piece with four valves that plays a range of six octaves with a trombone mouthpiece. The instrument is kinda a cross between a French Horn and a Flugelhorn, and looks like a burnished pretzel.
Dr. Nelson Harrison received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1974. Along with delivering his musical chops, he's also a college lecturer, business consultant and in-demand speaker on “The Creative Mind” and “The Metaphysics of Music.”
Dan Wasson, guitar, bass
He has played the electric bass guitar in the Pittsburgh Jazz/R&B scene since the 1970's. He has been with Eric Johnson's Fabulous A Team, James and Pam Johnson of the African-American Music Institute, Joe Harris, Harold Betters, Spencer Bey, Nelson Harrison, Cecil Brooks II, Jack Nicolette, Tony Campbell, and others. He also was blessed to have performed with the following artists who have left us for Higher Ground : Gerald Haymon, Ronnie Jones, Sonny Scott, Carl Arter, Jerry Betters, Bo Diddley Jr., Pete Henderson, Walt Harper, Hosea Taylor, Kenny Fisher, Jerry Elliott, and Jimmy Ponder.
Jay Willis, saxophone
James Johnson III, drums
Shirley Wainwright, piano
Robert Doswell, piano
Tylique Katzbeck, piano
Hattie Burch, piano
John Bagnato, guitar, bass
David Moore, drums
Irene Monteverde, piano
Tony Campbell, saxophone
Anicet Mundundu, African drums, piano
Cecilia Coleman, lesson coordinator, reception
Tom Wendt, drums
Thomas Wendt has been playing the drums professionally since the age of 14. He has studied with master drummers Roger Humphries, Joe Harris, and Kenny Washington. Thomas maintains a busy freelancing schedule with Pittsburgh's top jazz artists such as Gene Ludwig, Dwayne Dolphin, Jimmy Ponder, Joe Negri, Sean Jones, Sandy Staley, Maureen Budway, Kenia, and the Latin jazz group, Salsamba. He has also played with many visiting international artists like David "Fathead" Newman, Donald Byrd, James Moody, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Monty Alexander, and Javon Jackson. Thomas recently played on the Emmy Award winning soundtrack for the PBS documentary Fly Boys. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty at the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood.
Stephanie Childers, voice
Ian Gordon, Trumpet
Colter Harper, guitar
Christopher Bromley, Operations Manager
B.M. in Performance, Artist Diploma, M.S. in Education
Christopher Bromley began his musical training at the age of ten at The Academy of Music, a comprehensive community music program located in Mahwah, New Jersey. Once in high school, Chris left the Academy of Music to study at the pre-college division of Manhattan School of Music in New York City. In 1997, he moved to Pittsburgh to study cello performance at Duquesne University with Misha Quint. After his undergraduate study, Bromley began teaching private cello lessons as well as group classes at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh.
In 2005, Chris returned to Duquesne to pursue an Artist Diploma in Cello Performance. In 2007, he was a winner of the Duquesne Concerto Competition and performed as a soloist with the Duquesne Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Sidney Harth.
After his graduate studies, Chris reunited with his former teachers Quint and Harth, to serve as Manager of Operations for the Interharmony International Music Festival. In his position he both launched and managed music festivals in the US and Europe for students aged 7-25. After several years with Interharmony, Chris accepted a position at Duquesne University as the Manager of Musical Events. In July of 2011, Chris was appointed Executive Director of City Music Center where he spent the next five years working to provide a comprehensive musical education to any interested student, regardless of their financial situation.
In 2014 Chris took on the role of Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra working with artistic directors Sean Jones and Mike Tomaro as well as 16 of the finest jazz musicians in the Pittsburgh area. The PJO developed a robust educational program during Bromley’s tenure, including the PJOYouth Band and the PJOYouth Future All-Stars; two programs for which Bromley was the architect.
Chris currently works as a consultant and a cello teacher, and is also Operations Manager for the Afro American Music Institute in Homewood, PA.