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

Jazz Messengers Bassist Jymie Merritt Dies At 93



Jymie Merritt (1926–2020)


Jymie Merritt passed away on April 10, according to social media posts by his son, Mike Merritt. The Philadelphia-born bassist, an enduring member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, was 93. A cause of death was not immediately made clear; the younger Merritt, also a bassist, wrote that it was unrelated to COVID–19.

Merritt took part in the 1958 sessions that yielded a recording of Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin’,” released on the self-titled Jazz Messengers album that same year. When saxophonist Wayne Shorter first recorded with the ensemble a few years later, Merritt was there. The bassist became enmeshed with players who moved through the ensemble over the years, recording on leader dates by Benny Golson, Lee Morgan and others. Merritt also worked with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie and B.B. King. Uniquely skilled and in-demand, the bassist was able to pivot from jazz to blues and back again with ease, retaining a voice that helped define hard-bop.

“Merritt‘s playing was always so beautifully melodic and in many ways original,” Chicago bassist Junius Paul wrote Saturday in a Facebook post. “Nobody sounded like him. He was, along with Monk Montgomery, a pioneer of electric bass in jazz, and that’s fact. Also an iconic double bassist and composer, you can hear his works recorded by Lee Morgan and Max Roach among many others. Whenever I saw the great Reggie Workman, I asked about Mr. Merritt, as they were great friends and are both trailblazers of the Philadelphia jazz sound that bassists such as Christian McBride gain great influence from ... . This one really hurts.” DB

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