PITTSBURGH 3D




Roger Humphries


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: 78
Latest Activity: Jul 20

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

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on February 14, 2015 at 3:16am

“I DON’T LIKE TO WRITE IN ALL OF THE NOTES,” says legendary trumpeter Eddie Henderson with a laugh, “Miles always said, ‘just write a sketch and let all the musicians fill in. He’d say, “A collective portrait is better than a self portrait.’” It was advice that resonated with a young Eddie Henderson who, even after 40-something years, still relies on it as a primary organizing principle for his music. 

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 13, 2014 at 6:11pm
Interview with Tootie Heath

EI:  Who did you get to see live in Philly growing up? 

AH:  Well, Philly Joe Jones before he moved to New York.  Ronald Tucker, who’s on one album with Jackie McLean, the one with the first recording of “Little Melonae.” He was really my hero, because Ronald never practiced but could play anything.  Just anything.  He’d see you trying something, and he would say, “What’s that you are trying to play? You mean this?” And he could do it.  He could hear and play anything, Max Roach solos, you name it.  We called him “The Flame,” since he used the hair straightener called Conkaline and let it get red.  Conkaline was almost like lye, it would basically burn your hair, and if you weren't careful, you would end up with red hair, which is what happened to Ronald.
Specs Wright was very technical, a great reader, wonderful smooth hands, clean, the “4”s were exact – but this guy Ronald could try anything and come out of it like magic.  I also used to see a wonderful drummer named Charlie Rice around Philadelphia – in fact Rice is still there – and I’m sure I’m leaving some other people out.  
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 5, 2014 at 5:22am

Remember the music is not in the piano. 

—Clement Mok


Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on July 30, 2014 at 8:49pm

Photo: Monk's Advice, from Steve Lacey's Notebook, Transcription.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on July 30, 2014 at 8:45pm

"But I dropped the audition requirements from the literary sense, and anybody who had a propensity for musicality, I dealt with that.  So we had a lot of non-literate musicians who were giants.  Because learning to read music is the simplest thing in music, if you don’t have a mindset that tells you that it’s so complicated." --- Alvin Batiste

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 21, 2013 at 8:24pm

 "....Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brainwaves in his head, and his in mine."
- Duke Ellington

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 21, 2013 at 4:44am

"Do you ever wish that the world had no music in it? Would you rather be deaf than listen to anybody play anything ever again? Are you sick and tired of hearing all of the same notes being placed in slightly different order all the time? Is it your hope to do away with music completely by the year 2021? That's awesome.( I feel the same way about Republicans. ) Today at the Atlas Cafe we are having an open forum discussion about this topic. Also, we will play music from 4-6 to demonstrate exactly why a no-music ordinance is so desired. Joining us in this debate will be thirteen angry people staring at their laptops, at least five of whom go out to cafes to "work" on their "work" while we play. Thrill to the vision of me walking from table to table with the tip jar and hearing each of them say "I'm sorry...I have no cash" and me frowning and saying in my best imitation of a Market St panhandler "please don't say you're sorry..."All of this....the scowling...the tip collecting....the laptop working....all of it could still go on if we didn't play a note." --- Craig Ventresco


Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 21, 2013 at 4:33am

"I just got word that a real Jazzist will be singing tonight at our gig in Alameda. When I asked this person to scat sing she quickly held up the words to Heebie Jeebies, smiled slyly, dropped the lyric sheet to the ground and yelled out "skid-a-bibbee--booo-la-la-gee". Then she began twirling a parasol. At that point, as if she knew that I was unsure of her true ability to sing jazz, she told me that she is not a full time singer but that she's also a dentist! That clinched it. Everybody knows that you're not a good jazz singer unless you're also a doctor or dentist! At rehearsal we were pleased to hear her say stuff like "I didn't know that this song had a verse but I can learn it and sing it tonight in any key" and "I'm going to be wearing these jazzy vintage shoes". amazing stuff. Like all other singers, she sounds and looks exactly like Billie Holiday. You haven't encountered someone who sounds and looks so much like Billie Holiday since you were last in the (one remaining) used book store and that person humming Strange Fruit walked past. In fact, she sings Strange Fruit all the while holding up a half-eaten kumquat. She wears a flower in her hair, thus channeling Billie Holiday. Oh---and Ella. She just switched channels and channeled Ella. Now she just got back from swimming the channel where she sounded like Gracie Fields. Now she's changing the channel again and watching As the World Turns. I can hear her rehearsing from in here..."skoo-ba-ree-falop". I'm pretty sure she's good. Honestly, I can't tell...." ----Craig Vestresco

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 19, 2013 at 11:14pm

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 12, 2013 at 4:23pm

Musicians are Instrumental to World Harmony


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