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

Farewell to Arnold "Spider" Rondinelli who passed peacefully early July 10, 2017.

Frank Greenlee photo

It's with a sad heart that I write this post, to inform everyone that Spider passed away this morning at 12:30am.
I sat by his side and held his hand and watched him peacefully take his last breath.
I thank God for the 48 years we lived our lives together,and I'll miss him everyday.

He'll be laid out at S.M. Finney Funeral Home at 432 North 6th St. Clairton,PA.
Thursday 2-4 and 6-8 A memorial service will be on Friday morning at the Funeral home.

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Replies to This Discussion

L-R: Two Arnolds - Arnold "Spider" Rondinell and Arnie Lawrence, saxophonist with Dizzy Gillespie et al and Founder of The New School in NYC.  (Photo courtesy of Erik Lawrence)

I am so sorry to hear of Spider's passing. I first encountered him while going to Sonny Daye's Stage Door as a Pitt student in the early 70's. My friends and I had a good time at THAT place literally falling off the bar stools while listening to national and local artists drinking those got-darned Kamikazes. That is also the place I first met Richie Cole and Eric Kloss.

Spider was a colorful soul, to put it mildly, who always had you smiling or cracking up from a joke. He was able to adapt to any situation. Later as a radio personality our paths crossed many times as I would be at a jam session or when he would come down to WYEP back in the day. In later years I would see Spider at the B-Pep event and other places. As he would say, "My man, how you doin ?" and I would smile. We are going to miss this great musician, another part of the area's rich, Jazz history. My condolences to his wife, family, his musical family and his many fans. Now you and Sonny can really do "Rock Around the Clock" my man.

Kevin Amos

L-R: George Heid, Sr., Spider Rondinelli

(Photo by Nelson Harrison)

Spider plays at the Crawford Grill #2

(Photo by Nelson Harrison)

I remember Kenny Karsh, who knew Spider well, always mentioning him for one reason or another when I was at their home. His sister was my best friend way back then in the 1970's and so for me, that name is liked to Kenny but I did see Spider at the Encore, many times, in Shadyside and perhaps at the downtown one too. I think a true icon of Jazz has passed and for this, condolences to all who knew him and his family.  RIP Spider, to that great gig in the sky. 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, indoor
Scott Elias with Frank B. Greenlee and 5 others.
2 hrs ·

It seems like some things, and some rare people, will be around forever. They have become iconic: They represent our memories, they help create our longing for home (for example).

Such was the case with the inimitable "Spider" Rondinelli.

He personified Pittsburgh. Jazz. Uniqueness. It's unimaginable that he is no longer with us. Because he still is --

I will never hear "Tenor Madness" without hearing his voice singing "Who Parked The Car?" I'll think of him when I hear a tinkling bell, a loose, swinging beat. Or if//when someone asks what I'm doing Saturday -- Sometimes years would pass, yet every time I saw Spider he seemed to need me for a gig on Saturday.

My daughter has sung "Who Parked The Car" since the age of two. That innocence, that FUN -- That's Spider. Few cats loved the music more, and fewer made it so accessible

Every now and then, young cats ask about Jazz. What is it? What makes jazz "Jazz?" My answer is always the same -- It's about finding your own, unique voice.

If ever someone possessed originality and had their own distinct voice, it was Arnold "Spider" Rondinelli. He entertained many, he gave many the opportunity to play real music. And he always, always did it in his own sweet way.

I first met him at the old Stage Door in Oakland. Thanks to him, I got to hear people like Bob Berg, Arnie Lawrence, and, of course, the great Eric Kloss and company. It was a scene unto itself. To kids like Jeff Lashway, Dave Braham, Vinnie Colaiuta and me, it was beyond hip. It was life. How could one not be impressed with Spider?!?

Jazz in Pittsburgh will never be the same, but it will always have Spider's web all over it. And while he will always be with us, a part of everyone fortunate enough to have known him, I do hope that, somewhere, he's splang-a-langing in the ethers, bringing his indomitable spirit to the hit. Whoa Babe!

Once, there was a fungus among us. An arachnid of Jazz. And he will always be here.

That was a wonderful tribute Scott. This is the Pittsburgh Jazz History that we don't see written down anywhere. And you hit the nail on the head man....Spider like Stanley, like Eddie, Like Dodo, like Donna, like Geri, like Ms. Mary Lou and Billy and even Doug Drown in addition to man, many others will forever be with us.

Age 82, a well-known jazz musician from Clairton, passed away peacefully at home on Monday, July 10, 2017. He was born February 5, 1935 in Clairton to the late Anthony and Angeline Macioce Rondinelli. Along with his loving wife of 41 years, Georgina, he is survived by son, Michael (Paula) Rondinelli of Louisville, KY; grandsons, Jared and Avery; brother, Naz (Elsie) Rondinelli of San Diego, CA. Along with his parents, Spider was preceded in death by sister, Marlene Decima. After graduating from high school in 1953, he worked his first job as a musician at the Point Vue Hotel in Brentwood. In 1960, Spider was drafted and spent two years in the service with the 113th Army Band, based at Fort Knox, KY. After his discharge in 1962, he returned to Pittsburgh but was itching to hit the road and went to Chicago. Spider returned to Pittsburgh for a bit and moved on to St. Thomas for more than four years but, as usual, returned to Pittsburgh to do what he loved. "Jazz is going to save the world," he said. "Jazz music has given me security. I have done nothing else in my life. My father wanted me to be a tap dancer, but I preferred to play the music that made me want to dance." Family and friends will be received from 2–4 and 6–8 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at S. M. FINNEY FUNERAL HOME, INC., 432 N. 6th Street, Clairton, PA 15025. A service will take place at the funeral home on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. Online condolences may be offered at

Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 12, 2017


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