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


Randy passed away a few hours ago, Sat. May 16th at 11:18 PM. He was ill for quite a while, and though we prayed for a recovery, he had lost his will to live. Go to You Tube and watch him play Don't Let the Sun Come Down on Me with Maynard! Unfortunately he died at the relatively young age of 63 years. The sun came down on him - but at least we can still see him and hear him play.

---Leslie Purcell Upchurch (his sister)

Stay tuned to this network for funeral arrangements.


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Hi Randy,

I'm sorry to hear your not doing so well.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

My Mom hopes you get better soon too.

She remembers you from Carrick High School. She remembers were you sat down at Carrick too.

I'll never forget how encouraging you were whwn I had my stroke.

I'm doing well with everything and I do my best to get down to Bally's to work out.

I've been busy doing Outreach Programs for Jazz Workshop, Inc. I'm the Artistic Director there now and I'm in charge of the School of Music
and putting Outreach Programs together.

I have a trombone student, Jim McKenna, and I'm teaching him basics of Jazz Improvisation. I'm also teaching him Miles Davis and Charlie "Bird" Parker.

I wish the best for you and hope you get well soon.

Musically and Sincerely,
Ed Skirtich
Artistic Director/Jazz Workshop, Inc.
(412) 422-4149 (H)
(412) 841-8046 (C)
Dear Randy
Sending prayers .
I wish you all the best, please get well soon
Devorah Segall
Hey Captain -- Our thoughts are with you. Keep on swingin'. -- Dick
Hi Randy,

I am from Bob Levy's college jazz ensemble in the early 70's. Last time I saw you was after a MF gig in Tucson in the 70's. Levy is hosting a reunion of the SMC 71-79 jazz people, and we're all going to jam in February 09 - come join us! I really hope you are better soon because you're my trombone hero!

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Tom McDonald
New Tripoli, PA
Hey, Captain,

Sorry to hear you're ill. May you soon get back to the way you were.

Douglas Smink
Gaithersburg, MD
I sincerely hope you get well soon. Everyone at is worried about you.
I'm Lou Spagnola...Trumpet player from Philadelphia. I had the opportunity to play with you as an eundergrad at West Chester University in the 80's. I've seen you and have spoken to you several times when seeing you perform in Pittsburgh. You've been one of my very favorite musician since I was in elementary school in the 70's! I, too, am hoping that you soon get back to the way you were. Love you, man! My prayers are wih you.

Lou Spagnola
From Maryellen,
My prayers are with you Randy.
I just learned that our prayers are working. Randy has been moved from the Oakland
VA into a rehab hospital in South Hills. I'll try to get the address and phone so you may contact him via mail or phone to cheer him up. He had temporarily lost his sight but it is beginning to return at this point. Prayers continue.

You are in my prayers. Get well soon!!!
Hey Randy!

Was thinking about you recently, and found through the 'jazzburgher' site that you've been on the mend here lately.

I played bass for you back at Carnegie-Mellon University in around 1980 - 1982. You taught us well about being a band and had a knack for getting us inspired. What a great gathering of musicians we had to work with. I think I still have a couple old cassette recordings of a couple of our concerts.

I still stay in touch with Brian DelSignore, who's now percussion section head for the Houston Symphony. I hear Val Brand-Gillespie is down here in Florida as well - in the Brandon area I think, on the west coast. Phil Smouse (guitar) is writing and illustrating inspirational kid's books, and still lives in the Monroeville area. I'm thankful to have played in the CMU Jazz Band up there with you and the others and made some true lifelong friends, and people that still inspire me today.

Locally, our little jazz band has played at Deltona Arts Center for a monthly fund raising event that Frank Varderos is heading up He had mentioned knowing you as well. Small world out there.

Anyway, glad to hear you are on the mend. God has a way of giving us peace and healing in the craziest of times. I hope and pray that you find His peace and joy as you recover.

Adrian Zvarych
Debary FL

You know how much you mean to all us CMU guys from the '80's- me, my brothers, Gerry Gagnon, Joe Perrino, Ron Franzaglia, Paul Allocca, Ray Fratto etc etc. You taught us well Captain- not just about music, but also about the music biz, and about life in general. Get well soon. We think of you often.

Paul Cosentino
Randy, I sometimes wonder back to the "Holiday House"days and what a great experience musically, professionally and what a great group of musicians to work with on an on going steady engagement. Listen, Randy, get well and take care of your self, stay in touch. I'll be in Vegas for 1 more year, than I',m retiring to either Belize or Cabo San Lucas I'll play a little steel drum, drink margaritas or/and mojitos,deep sea fish and just chill. Your Friend, Jack Cenna


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