Pain Relief Beyond Belief





From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.


Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?


Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.


For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.


Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.






Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin



       In Her Own Words

The Album Art of Mozelle Thompson; LP Illustrations 1953-1969

Event Details

The Album Art of Mozelle Thompson; LP Illustrations 1953-1969

Time: November 7, 2014 at 6pm to November 30, 2014 at 6pm
Location: Most Wanted Fine Art, 5015 Penn Ave. (Garfield)
Event Type: art, music, history
Organized By: J. Malls
Latest Activity: Nov 7, 2014

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Event Description

November’s retrospective at Most Wanted Fine Art focuses on the album cover art of Mozelle Thompson. The exhibition will be a must-see for anyone with an interest in local history, art or music. It includes additional book and magazine illustrations accompanied by biographical information about the artist. There will be six opportunities to see the exhibition and our hope is to ultimately raise an awareness of this neglected artist’s legacy and demonstrate a need for further documentation and preservation of his life’s work. 

Mozelle W. Thompson, Jr (1926-1969) was a prolific African American illustrator born in Pittsburgh with associations to neighborhoods including the Hill District, Garfield and Homewood. Thompson’s professional career arguably began as early as 1944 when he was published in the pages of Mademoiselle magazine as a senior at Peabody High School. He won numerous awards that year including a scholarship to the Parsons School of Design in New York. At age twenty-one he traveled abroad to study in Europe, which is documented in the February 1949 issue of Ebony Magazine.

Thompson’s earliest known album cover illustration was done in 1953. By 1960 he had illustrated over fifty album covers and by 1969 he illustrated at least ninety albums, which very likely makes him the most prolific African American visual artist of that era to contribute to album cover illustration. Thompson’s imagery adorns albums from the likes of Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Gerry Mulligan, Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, just to name a few. Throughout the 1960’s he received numerous acknowledgements from publications such as Billboard Magazine, Graphis Annual and Art Direction Magazine. In 1967 he received a Grammy Award nomination for graphic arts. His illustrations were featured on book covers, in magazines, on theatrical posters and in the pages of The New York Times. Illustrations for a paperback of A Clockwork Orange and the first edition of the novel Shaft gave him a very early association with relevant works that eventually had an indelible impact on popular culture. His illustrations for James P. Johnson’s Lift Every Voice And Sing, which he was working on at the time of his death, received critical acclaim.

Thompson fell six stories from his apartment window just short of his forty-third birthday. He was a working artist teaching at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City at the time. His death was reported as a suicide and his legacy has been forgotten over the course of forty-five years. He currently has no representation to speak of in the city of Pittsburgh, where he had a very traditional experience as a young local artist sharing mentors with the likes of Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Mary Shaw Marohnic, Louise Pershing and George Heppenstall, not to mention affiliations with historic local institutions, The Pittsburgh Courier and Gimbels department store.

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