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

Looking for any Photos, Stories, of The Encore in Shadyside or The Encore II Downtown, can you help?

Did you frequent the Encores I and II in Pittsburgh? Are you a musician or act who played at the now long gone legendary Jazz Clubs? I was a waitress and a bartender there from 1976-1979, and my aunt was one of the many booking agents who sent jazz acts out of New York to work there. I was also a very close friend of Art Swiden, who managed the Encores,  and worked alongside both he and Bobby Davis. I am currently writing a book about my experiences there and it has been a labor of love. So many people were involved with the Jazz that poured out of those two Clubs, one in Shadyside and the other on Liberty Ave. I have had the great good fortune to know and meet many I had known in those 30 + years ago of working there. I am now seeking any stories, funny, sad, whatever you can add. Maybe you just loved going there to listen to the music, or maybe you worked there and can add something from your own personal experiences? Photos, too, please. I have none of the interior or exterior of the Encores, but also welcome photos of the bands who played there, any with Art Swiden and Bobby Davis, the two main managers. The Encore was a legend on the Jazz scene in Pittsburgh from the late 1950's all the way up until the early 1980's. Many a great musician, singers like George Benson played there, started there...surely you agree with me, that this legendary club, should not be thrown away to the annals of time forgotten! If you would like to share anything with me about those times, the Encores, pictures you have, stories of working there, even as a waitress of bartender, or any staff, I would be very thankful. My email address is :   and of course you can add anything here to this forum or see my page on this Jazzning network. Many thanks again, Shawn Cohen

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I remember seeing Sonny Stitt in Shadyside, 1980. He was incredible and left a lasting impression of Pittsburgh as a major league jazz town. Also enjoyed Eric Kloss and a young Ken Karsh, in the last years before closing.

Thank you to both who replied here. The stories about Sonny Stitt in Shadyside...I remember Sonny Stitt coming to play at the downtown Encore II about '77. He was a huge success there, a full house every night and two shows an evening. I agree as well, Kenny Karsh is a genius and I have known him and his family since I was 13 years old. His older sister was my best friend and he and Eric still going strong. 

To jdlaughead, thank you for a great story of how Harold Betters came to the Encore and actually became the ultimate act there, his quartet and he known at the Encore as "The House that Betters Built"! I know Harold and his lovely family and it is such a wonderful experience to see and know these musical genius' still  playing, still working. Harold is a testimony to that, especially at 84 years young! Thank you for great responses. Harold and his daughter Cheryl are on this network so if you would like to write to them, look them up on here and you can. Thanks again and keep the Jazz memories coming in! Shawn 

I remember a lot about the Encore, and Harold Betters,  Harold use to play at the Pitt Pott on Centre Ave, near Craig & Centre. In fact in around 1958-59, that is where I first heard him, they use to have Saturday afternoon Jam sessions there.  I recorded him live there.  Then around 1960, they sold the Pitt Pott, and sold Motorcycles their.  In the mean time Harold was working at National Records Mart.  I use to go to the Encore after work, as they had double Martini's for the price of singles for 75 cents.  What a blast!  So when I heard Harold was out of work, I told him to come over to Walnut street on a Tuesday night, and I took him over to the Encore and bring his Trombone, and I introduced him to Will Shiner, and at that time all he had who was playing music, there was a organ player.  Well that was the start, Harold started first playing Saturday afternoons, which I really enjoyed, and also Played at the Hadden Hall on Centre Ave.  Later Harold was playing six nights and saturday afternoon at the Encore.  I knew he was Great ,and was like Al Hirt of the Trombone. 

I then told him we should make a record, and we had two different recording sessions, but it wasn't what I wanted and the studio's had poor equipment and very poor microphones.  I don't like a Rehearsal sound I want it spontaneous!  About a month later a new Studio moved into town, called United Recording,  which was at the Carlton House, and Talked to Glenn Campbell the owner.  What a studio, WOW, 

he had the best of microphones, Telefonkens, Neumans, Sony Condenser mikes, and a very Dead Sounding studio, when you talked, you didn't hear any sound just lips moving.  So I set up a appointment for a two hour recording session.  I called Harold the next day, to get his group together to record.  I told him to meet me at the Luna Resturant, at Craig & Centre for a drink, before we record.  When he came into the Luna I ask him what he would like, and he said, JD, Jack Daniels so  I told the Bartender give him a double-double, and I had a Martini, and then I said Harold, how about one for the road, so he had another Double-Double.  The reason I did that, was I wanted him loose, for the other sessions, he wasn't loose, and was alway worried about what his side men were doing, and I didn't want to waste any more money.  Well we went into United Recording, and did songs and 14 takes with out a retake.  I had 500 records made, which we sold to the customers at the Encore.   Harold later asked me for the master so Gateway Recording could add Echo to it, and the Recording Harold Betters at the Encore, is the tape we did at United Recording.   On Piano was John Hughes, on Bass was Al O'Brien, on Drums Joe Ashliman.



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