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
by Scott Yanow

            Every jazz musician should find time to write their memoirs, for each one has had experiences and stories that would otherwise be lost to history. A saxophonist whose consistent excellence has long been taken for granted, Ron Aprea has had a much more extensive history than one might have expected.

            The title of his autobiography, The Era I Almost Missed (self-published and available from, refers to the era of regularly working big bands. Born in 1939, Aprea had the opportunity to work with such 1960’s bands as those led by Lionel Hampton (who became a close friend), Woody Herman, Les Elgart (his tales about traveling with Elgart are sometimes quite humorous), Buddy Morrow, and his mentor Frank Foster. He also worked with orchestras assembled for r&b players like King Curtis, accompanied some show biz personalities, and recorded with John Lennon in 1974 on Walls and Bridges, giving one a touching profile of the ex-Beatle.

            Ron Aprea is probably best known for his collaborations with his wife singer Angela DeNiro including heading his own orchestras but, as The Era I Almost Missed shows, that is only part of the story although a very significant part of the past 40 years. Aprea discusses his childhood, his early musical experiences, his main recordings  and, in addition to Hampton and Foster, talks about such artists as Arnie Lawrence, Lew Tabackin, Pat Rizzo, Les DeMerle, Woody Herman, Phil Woods (he took lessons from him), Jimmy Nottingham, Georgie Auld, his family, and of course Angela DeNiro.

            The Era I Almost Missed was put together in one month during the 2020 Pandemic when Ron Aprea unexpectedly had a lot of free time. The well-written stories balance humor with occasional tragedy, giving one a good idea not only of the saxophonist’s busy life but of the jazz life in general. This continually interesting book is highly recommended and will lead one to searching out Ron Aprea’s rewarding albums.

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