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



Chris Byrne – saxes, Adrienne Byrne – flute, Jeremy Bacon – piano (all tracks); Robert “Bunny” Cox – drums, Tom Jordan – bass, Elaine Richardson – vocals (tracks 1-7); Duane Eubanks – trumpet, Ronnie Burrage – drums & Mike Boone – bass (tracks 8-9).


I don’t know how you may feel about bootleg recordings but I have a special affinity for them since they are always “live.”  There are shortcomings of course like the inability to mix separate instruments or fix “bloopers” in the editing suite but over all one gets an energy and performer-audience interaction that more than outweighs those limitations. This is one of those recordings selected from two separate live concerts. 


At first I thought I was listening to some vintage 70s jazz from the period when Pharoah Sanders et al were expressing the higher human values in their music.  The titles of the tunes and the lyrics further led me in that direction.  What struck me was the originality of every composition, simplistic beauty of melody over fresh chord progressions played with comfortable and clear communication among the musicians as if they were very used to speaking the same dialect. Every track is an adventure that takes you on a journey to someplace you might remember or have never experienced.


The musicianship is of superior quality on every instrument and the solos are very original unburdened by the well-worn clichés so often heard from the college-bred jazz musicians who learn the notes but haven’t lived the life.  These musicians play like they have lived it and paid some relevant dues in the company their predecessor generation.  In other words, I hear mentorship and experience over intellect and technique.  The technique is definitely there, but it is used to serve the message of the artist not just as a dazzling device to impress the listener.


I felt in the audience response that there was a genuine appreciation of the above not just a polite response.  In other words, I perceived there was a connection with the audience that I wager had a positive effect on the performances.


The selection and order of tunes is one of the few ways a live recording can be improved upon and this one is well-paced with variety of mood, tempo, rhythms, voice, ensemble and dynamics.  The weakest element for me was the balance in sound among the instruments on certain tracks that wouldn’t have occurred in a studio where one could control the mix and the players would have adequate monitoring of sound.


One of my favorite listening exercises is the “blindfold method” where no information is given about the recording on the first listen.  My blindfold score on this one would have been almost zero except that I knew it was Dr. Chris Byrne on saxophones and his daughter Aeb on flute. My experience of the music, however, makes me want to hear more from every player and to seek out other examples of their work.  I had never heard of Miles Davis the first time I heard him on the radio in 1947 but I have never been able to get enough of him since.  This recording is living proof that the popularity charts may not always be the richest repository of great jazz music.  It may behoove us to follow the intended suggestion of this rendering and find some more “Bootlegs.”  Then call me and I’ll have a nip with you.


Track 1: I Wanna Ride First Class

Track 2: Keely’sWaltz

Track 3: Orange Moon

Track 4: Something Underneath

Track 5: The Messenger

Track 6: Grace

Track 7: Westonian Pandemonium


Track 8: Minor Incident in the Intersection

Track 9: Prime Time


---Dr. Nelson Harrison - psychologist, composer, arranger, lyricist, author, playwright, veteran trombonist with the Count Basie Orchestra (1978-81).

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