Joe Negri-The Digs: More Details & Early Music

Friday, 06 September 2013 02:42 PM Written by 
In Friday's "The Digs," Nate Guidry's essay on Joe Negri was supplemented by interesting photos.  A couple of the photos appeared in my September 2011 Sunday profile; others haven't appeared in print anytime in recent years and some comments from an earlier Nate Guidry profile of Negri.
The photos themselves merit a some added detail.
The first photo shows Joe in November, 1986 with Pitt Jazz Director Nathan Davis (who just recently retired) and the late trumpeter Danny Conn, who worked extensively with Joe from the 60's to the 80's.  Conn died in 2006.
The next is circa 1944, when Joe, still a teenager, toured America with the second Shep Fields Orchestra. Fields hired him in March, 1943 after auditioning him in Pittsburgh. The earlier Fields band gained national fame in the 30's with bland "Rippling Rhythm" pop in the Lawrence Welk vein. The group Joe joined was the adventurous "Shep Fields and his New Music," organized in 1942 witn all reeds, no trombones or trumpets. They played as many stage shows as dances.  Negri played acoustic rhythm guitar and was featured on electric guitar. He remained until being drafted in 1944.
Want to hear him?  On this Fields aircheck,  He's a featured soloist at 3:20 on "Memories Of You."
On the instrumental "Take It Slow," that starts at 7:50, he solos at 10:03. 
The instrumental, "Five O' Clock" also features him. It begins at 14:40. His break starts at 15:54. 
On "For The First Time," at 17:30, he solos at 18:19 and you can hear him as part of the ensemble. He'd mentioned such parts were written for him by the band's arranger, drummer Freddie Noble. 

At the time of the 1963 photo showing Joe with Mark Damen and WTAE news anchor Paul Long.  he was Music Director at Channel 4, where he worked for roughly 20 years.
The Joe-Walt Harper photo is pretty much self-explanatory,and also from the 60's.
During his years at Channel 4, providing live music for local programming, Negri helped produce and partciipated in a number of TV specials. This 1967 photo was from one of these.  In 1969, long before Pittsburgh became a blues town, he created and hosted This Is Soul, a forward-looking local documentary looking at R&B, gospel and blues. He traveled to Memphis to interview early blues greats Furry Lewis and Gus Cannon.
The Final shot from last year is self-explanatory.
It's regrettable there are no decent photos of the Negri Trio that appeared on WDTV's and KDKA's "Buzz 'N Bill" TV show.  That group, including bassist Lou Mauro and accordionist Dom Trimarkie, were part of the cast for years.  They made one recording, a 4-song Extended Play 45 under Trimarkie's name titled "Comes The Dom."  It's not easy to find.

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