By Bob Karlovits, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, January 23, 2012
Thursday evening’s concert with veteran guitarist Joe Negri and young trumpeter Benny Benack III has a legacy that dates to the World Series of 1960.
But it is only a slight rival to the musical history of the Benack family. It is a story that Benny Benack Jr. says has its roots in “passion,” a single-minded dedication his father had and his son has.
“If you have the drive and the ability, then go ‘head, give it a shot,” Benack Jr. says he recently told his son. “If you do it for a few years, and it doesn’t work out, you’re smart, you can do something else.”
The young Benack will be showing off his talent Thursday in a concert designed to display how jazz spans generations, from Negri, 85, to Benack, 21. But jazz connects them in another way, too.
Benack’s grandfather, the Dixieland cornetist who made his name a near-trademark in Pittsburgh, is best remembered for the song that became the theme for the dramatic 1960 World Series victory over the Yankees: “The Bucs are going all the way, all the way, all the way …”
That “Beat ’em Bucs” was written by Negri, who was commissioned by an advertising firm to do a song for an Iron City Beer ad campaign. Negri knew of Benack as the kind of player he needed for the hot, Dixieland song, and he recommended him.