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



There is a dearth of oral history available documenting the greatness of the Pittsburgh Jazz Tradition and Legacy.. Please feel free to add a quote of your own or words of wisdom or humor from a Pittsburgh artist that you may find of interest.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Members: 79
Latest Activity: Jun 20

I don't need time. What I need is a deadline. -Duke Ellington, jazz pianist, composer, and conductor (1899-1974)

Discussion Forum

"No One Could Tell You How To Play"

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Nov 15, 2018. 0 Replies

Ellis Marsalis Interview - 2002: Part Six

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 15, 2017. 0 Replies

Ellis Marsalis Interview - 2002: Part Five

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 15, 2017. 0 Replies

Comment Wall


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Comment by Roger S Day on August 24, 2020 at 2:46pm
The tl;dr is this:  "leave it to the ignorant and stupid who judge by counting only the faults. I can be grateful, and so must you be, for even one note, one wonderful phrase."
But the story is worth your time.
Here is an excerpt from Piatigorsky's book, in which he writes of an encounter with Pablo Casals, that reveals Casal's prodigious memory, attention to minute detail, and human warmth:"
My great wish was to hear Pablo Casals. One day my desire was almost fulfilled and I met him. But ironically, it was I who had to play. It was in the home of the Von Mendelssohns, a house filled with El Grecos, Rembrandts, and Stradivarius. Francesco von Mendelssohn, the son of the banker, who was a talented cellist, telephoned and asked if he could call for me; they had a guest in the house who would like to hear me play.
"Mr. Casals," I was introduced to a little bald man with a pipe. He said that he was pleased to meet young musicians such as Serkin and me. Rudolf Serkin, who stood stiffly next to me, seemed , like myself, to be fighting his diffidence. Rudi had played before my arrival, and Casals now wanted to hear us together. Beethoven's D-Major Sonata was on the piano. "Why don't you play it?" asked Casals. Both nervous and barely knowing each other, we gave a poor performance that terminated somewhere in the middle.
"Bravo! Bravo! Wonderful!" Casals applauded. Francesco brought the Schumann Cello Concerto, which Casals wanted to hear. I never played worse. Casals asked for Bach. Exasperated, I obliged with a performance matching the Beethoven and Schumann.
"Splendid! Magnifique!" said Casals, embracing me.
"Bewildered, I left the house. I knew how badly I had played, but why did he, the master, have to praise and embrace me? This apparent insincerity pained me more than anything else.
"The greater was my shame and delight when, a few years later, I met Casals in Paris. We had dinner together and played duets for
two cellos, and I played for him until late at night. Spurred by his
great warmth, and happy, I confessed what I had thought of his
praising me in Berlin. He reacted with sudden anger. He rushed to
the cello, "Listen!" He played a phrase from the Beethoven sonata.
"Didn't you play this fingering? Ah, you did! It was novel to was good...and here, didn't you attack that passage with up-bow, like this? he demonstrated. He went through Schumann and Bach, always emphasizing all he liked that I had done.
"And for the rest," he said passionately, "leave it to the ignorant and stupid who judge by counting only the faults. I can be grateful, and so must you be, for even one note, one wonderful phrase." I left with the feeling of having been with a great artist and a friend.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 24, 2020 at 3:20am

“My Beloved Brothers and Sisters, we can just feel the vibes. Music is a celestial sound, and it is the sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much, much greater than any other power in this world. And, one thing I would very much wish you all to remember is that with sound, we can make—and at the same time, break." ---Swami  Satchidananda at Woodstock

Comment by E Van D on August 10, 2020 at 11:38am
And what happens once the audience starts listening can bring about theta brain waves, the most highly creative brain wave. Thetas inspire new insights and solutions to problems.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 10, 2020 at 6:17am

When I go to these places, I don’t care what country I go to – I watch the way people be moving, walking, coming into concert halls. Then you know how to play off of them. That’s observation. As a musician, you’ve got to be observant.

If you’ve got a room filled up before a concert, some people want to hide out. I say, go [into the room] before a concert starts. If everybody’s talking and smiling, you may not hear what the individuals are saying, but look for the drone that’s in the room. [The audience is] creating a harmony. And they can hear that, and that’s pumping them up. So if you can play underneath that drone and lift everything up… Some people don’t want to do that. They come in there and say, [mock-serious voice] “I have this tune, and this is B-flat.” I said, “Maybe the room ain’t in B flat!” Get the fundamental in the room, man. ---Milford Graves

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 4, 2020 at 11:22pm

Comment by E Van D on July 13, 2020 at 10:31am
"I'll play first and tell you what it is later." Miles Davis
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on July 13, 2020 at 12:32am

By Randy 


"I used to go to Eubie Blakes house. He was 95 at that time. I would go to his house and listen to him tell stories about African American life in Baltimore. He'd tell me stories about those piano battles because our folks taught us to always learn from your elders. Try to be around old people. They will give you wisdom.

What we call the blues has been going on for thousands of years in Africa. Each society has their own understanding of the blues but it's simply African music. Why the music is so powerful is because the music is involved with spirit. Very much involved in truth, it has that African pulse and communication. No other music can you say "I love my baby but she don't love me." That's the blues....."

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 9, 2020 at 7:32pm

"When I was young, growing up in Harlem, I heard Fats Waller perform. His playing struck me, and I realized that jazz would be my path in this life." —S.R. (2020)

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on October 10, 2019 at 1:18am

"Music should humbly seek to please; within these limits great beauty may perhaps be found. Extreme complication is contrary to art. Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

He also said, "There’s no need either for music to make people think! … It would be enough if music could make people listen, despite themselves and despite their petty mundane troubles ... It would be enough if they could no longer recognize their own grey, dull faces; if they felt that for a moment they had been dreaming of an imaginary country."  ---Claude Debussy

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 12, 2019 at 3:16am
Michael Royal, pianist:

Notes from one of my piano lessons:

After a dazzling performance, an admirer asked Horowitz, “Where does that incredible technique come from?”
The Master smiled and said, “I don’t know, Chopin just demands it of me”.

Rather than just another quip to be added to a list of platitudes,


It is our vision of what It is that makes it possible.

Cultivate an enchanted outlook about your musical work and
Get excited about the possibility of making music this way!

Cut the chatter, out loud AND in your head.
Quit talking – stop trying to explain beauty – leave the explaining to others.

Paralysis from Analysis will evaporate.
The rest then will come on its own accord as you practice.

Aesthetic consideration activates and animates technique.

Just Play

Enthusiasm reduced to facts and methods is the fastest way to lose this magic.


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