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

Madeleine Yayodele Nelson—musician, educator, founder of Women of the Calabash—passes

Madeleine Yayodele Nelson—musician, educator, founder of Women of the Calabash—passes

AmNews | 10/4/2018, noon
Madeleine Yayodele Nelson, founder of the musical company Women of the Calabash, died unexpectedly Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, at the ...
Madeleine Yayodele Nelson 

Madeleine Yayodele Nelson, founder of the musical company Women of the Calabash, died unexpectedly Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, at the age of 69.

Madeleine, a 43-year resident of New York City, was born in Pittsburgh to Alberta Nelson (née Hall) and Frank A. Nelson Jr. She graduated from Slippery Rock College with a bachelor’s degree in education.

Known to friends as “Yayo,” Madeleine was a gifted and celebrated musician. She was a singer and a master percussionist, specializing in the shekere, a West African instrument made from a dried gourd covered with beads, the djembe drum and the mbira thumb piano. She performed and paid tribute to the music of Africa and the African Diaspora for 40 years with her groups Women of the Calabash and Alakande. As a solo artist, Madeleine recorded with several noted musicians, including Paul Simon, Edie Brickell and Billy Harper. As an educator, she taught in the Pennsylvania and New York public school systems and at the Fresh Air Fund Camp in Fishkill, N.Y. She also lectured at Julliard and taught master classes at the Manhattan School of Music. Madeleine was a practiced instrument maker, and she handcrafted all the shekeres for the New York and London companies of the Broadway show “Fela!”

Madeleine was a devoted mother, a loving sister and an adoring aunt. She was an inspirational teacher and a sensitive friend. She is survived by her son, Ayodele Nelson; her siblings Judith Nelson (James) Dilday, Herbert (Francine McNairy) Nelson and Melana (Derek) Nelson-Amaker; and her many cousins, nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her parents, and by her brothers, Frank Nelson and Julian Nelson.

A memorial and musical tribute to Madeleine’s memory was held Sept. 30, 2018, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, at 95th Street, New York, N.Y.

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