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

A local authority is laying the groundwork for a daunting — and expensive — plan to reunite Downtown and the Hill District.

The Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority expects to begin preliminary design work by summer for a proposed deck over Crosstown Boulevard, one that would connect Downtown with the 28-acre former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill.

SEA board members approved an agreement Thursday to access a $918,684 federal grant to help fund the $1.1 million preliminary design work, which is expected to take about nine months. The balance of the money will come from the SEA.

The deck — which in essence would cover Crosstown Boulevard, a part of Interstate 579 — is part of a larger plan to rebuild a street grid on the former arena site and link it to the rest of the Hill, with some of that work to start this summer. That connection was severed more than half a century ago when the Civic Arena was built.

Preliminary design work will look at the best method for building the deck, the type of engineering involved and the cost of the project. Plans call for a park to be placed on top of the deck. Estimates place the cost of the project at $27 million — money that neither the SEA, the city, nor the county has at this point.

That’s in addition to the $30 million needed for the infrastructure work at the former arena site. To date, the SEA has been able to secure only half of that amount.

Nonetheless, SEA executive director Mary Conturo appeared to be undaunted by the task.

“We’re taking it a step a time,” she said. “Once we have a better plan as to design and cost, that gives us more information to go and find the funding.”

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, SEA board chairman, said the project and the former arena redevelopment have the support of politicians such as Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, both of whom could be instrumental in supplying funds.

“The 28 acres is a priority. I think there is reason to be optimistic,” he said.

To help with the infrastructure funding, the SEA, with the backing of the city and the county, will be applying again for a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant. Applications are due later this month.

The SEA sought $18 million in the last round of TIGER grant funding but lost out. It is expected to seek about the same amount in the latest round. If the SEA gets the money, a portion would go to fund final design related to the deck over Crosstown Boulevard.

SEA officials hope to begin infrastructure work on the 28-acre former arena site in August. It is expected to start on the eastern half of the site closest to Crawford Square and include the construction of some of the interior roads. The SEA has $15 million in state redevelopment capital assistance funding to help pay for the work.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are under an October deadline to start development on the site. The hockey team, which won the development rights to the land in the deal to build Consol Energy Center, is planning a residential, office and commercial development on the property.

Mark Belko: or 412-263-1262.

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