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Both brothers studied music at Ithaca College and set their sites on the jazz clubs of Manhattan after graduating. In addition to various gigs around town, Marty began arranging concerts and jazz festivals. He continued to build on this managerial and production experience and eventually supplemented his jazz gigs with jobs in management for the Cleveland Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Jay has become known as a bright young trombone soloist with a particular affinity for Brazilian Jazz. A long-time affiliation with trumpeter Claudio Roditti led to a number of gigs with other Brazilian musicians including Astrud Gilberto, Tania Maria, and A.C. Jobim. Both brothers have served on the faculty at Duquesne University, and both have performed with the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Band, where they've played with Jimmy Heath, Randy Brecker and Slide Hampton.
In 1987, Marty and Jay joined the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild -- an arts and learning center in Pittsburgh's inner city. Founded by Bill Strickland, the guild combined artistic and vocational training with the performing arts. At the time, the guild had just built a new performance hall/recording space and the Ashby's were invited to bring jazz to the new venue. In their 20 years there, Marty, as executive producer and Jay, as co-producer and recording engineer, have hosted such jazz greats as Billy Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Shirley Horn, JJ Johnson and Pittsburgh natives Ray Brown and Stanley Turrentine, just to name a few.
The guild has also released a number of critically acclaimed albums on the MCG Label featuring such artists as Nancy Wilson, The Chico Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Joe Negri, Paquito Rivera, and Slide Hampton. Three releases from the label have won Grammy Awards.
On Piano Jazz, Jay and Marty brought along bassist Rufus Ried and drummer Lewis Nash. Founder and CEO of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Bill Strickland was on-hand as well and sat down with Marian after the session to record a short interview about the Guild. The interview, as well as McPartland's musical portrait of Strickland, is available on our podcast, Piano Jazz Shorts.
Check out this week's Piano Jazz Shorts: the Piano Jazz podcast.
Set List for Jay and Marty Ashby on Piano Jazz: