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

Obituary: 'Chizmo' Charles Anderson / Singer known as ‘Pittsburgh’s Elder Statesman of the Blues’ Aug. 11, 1928 - April 21, 2015 April 22, 2015 11:24 PM

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette Chizmo Charles in March 1992.

From 1999: City's favorite blues singer swings and sings for the record From 2003: Charles has the blues on first release from Decade Records By Scott Mervis / PIttsburgh Post-Gazette

If you frequent blues clubs, there may have been that time when Chizmo Charles ending up singing at your table, and maybe even in your lap. As longtime fan Steve Acri said, “Chizmo knew how to work a room.” In his 60-plus years as a singer, earning him the informal title of “Pittsburgh’s Elder Statesman of the Blues,” Chizmo Charles worked all of them, adding a comedian’s touch to the blues.

He died Tuesday night of cancer at age 86. The Lawrenceville native, born Charles Anderson, got his start as a jitterbug dancer, and he was one of the city’s best. But, inspired by Pittsburgh singer and bandleader Billy Eckstine, he decided in his 20s to take the mike. Fittingly, the first song he ever did, with the Eugene Betts band, was B.B. King’s “Everyday I Have the Blues.”

One night, doing “A Cottage For Sale,” everything clicked. “I was always interested in singing,” he told the Post-Gazette in 1999. “I used to sing along with records. But that night, I really connected with the audience. They were smiling and having fun. That’s a wonderful feeling.”

Early on, he sang with such groups as The Debonnaires and Unity, which played country and polka. “I’ve probably performed at more Polish weddings than any black man in this country,” he said.

FROM THE ARCHIVES (APRIL 3, 1992) Found on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette powered by He was known as a singer unbound by the stage. He had a long mike cord and regardless of where you were sitting, he could end up serenading you. “He was so charming,” said blues singer Shari Richards, who performed with him many times. “He would be in the middle of the song, with that 50-foot cord, and you’d know he was coming for you, and he’d sing to you. I would laugh until I cried when he did it.”

Some jazz players thought he was too much of a caricature, but organist Gene Ludwig, for one, gave him a chance. His local following flourished in the ’80s when he hooked up with the guys who would become the Mystic Knights of the Sea. He also held court at a regular Wednesday night gig at the popular Shadyside club The Balcony. James Dougherty Jr., guitarist for the Mystic Knights, first gigged with him at Gene’s Bar on Saw Mill Run Boulevard. “The whole place fell in love with him,” he said. “Chizmo had so much more talent than any of the jazz people seemed to know. I could hear it.”

Mr. Anderson and the Knights were featured in a local beer commercial doing “Spread Yourself Around,” from the album “Live Blues Breakout,” and they opened here for the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Johnny Winter. In 1998, ​Mr. Anderson made his solo recording debut, at the ripe age of 70, with the album “Up All Night” ​on the Loose Leaf label,​​ with Mr. Dougherty producing and writing half of the ​songs​. “He was the funniest guy in the entire world. He could bring levity to any situation, but he always had your back,” said Charles Anderson III, 32, one of Mr. Anderson’s 11 grandchildren from six kids. “I’m a musician and I’m named after him. I have a career because of him. He was always there. He set me up well.”

He knew well what it was like to work his way up through a scene as a self-taught musician. “I’ve had a lot of help along the way,” he told the PG. “If I knew half as much music as some of these musicians have forgotten, I’d be a bad dude. But that’s all right, because I’m going to keep on swinging and singing until they throw dirt over me.” Funeral arrangements had not been finalized Wednesday. Scott Mervis:; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg First Published April 22, 2015 1:06 PM. Try the suggestions below or type a new query above.

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All are blessed to have experienced this talented, beautiful man.

From Tony Anderson:  

A tribute to my grandfather....thank you Pittsburgh!
The memorial service information is as follows:
Saturday, May 2, 2015 at the Rapp Memorial Funeral Home
10940 Frankstown Rd., Pittsburgh PA 15235
The family will be greeting quest from 4 - 6 pm the memorial service will follow.
Memorial reception TBA...for more information please call 412-266-2208.
Thank you.

Hats off to Mr. Chizmo Charles.. loved by so many.  I recall being new on the scene as a singer ... I asked him for advice.  And his reply to me was "keep on doing what you're doing"  he then asked me  -- "do you have a music stand?" I replied - no.  He went out to his car .. and came back with a music stand and said "here".. that was a sign of inspiration for me -- that he felt I would be worthy of putting it to good use.  I will treasure that in my memory bank forever.  Thank you, Mr. Chizmo Charles, you are one of the greatest for all times.


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