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

Melony wrote: "WITH LOVE…REMEMBERING VEA... aka LORETTA VEATRICE WILLIAMS at SGI in NYC. March 7th, 2020 (Special Thanks to Natalie Clark, Lynn Tollett, Donna Walker-Kuhne, Michelle Williams, Tommie Thompson, the Entire SGI Team, Emmi Kemp, Bill Saxton, JaRon Eames, All the Musicians, Vea's Family & Friends and All Who Attended! Jazz Diva VEA's Memorial at SGI Was a Magnificent Celebration. Here are My Remarks... "My Mom and longtime mentor and dear friend to Vea, Betty J. Tilman reminded me "that Loretta came from a beautiful, loving family of singers. Couki, Gloria and Loretta (who many of us know only as Vea) all sang in the University and City Ministries Gospel Choir (UACM) in Pittsburgh. At 19, while a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Loretta traveled to East Africa with UACM and upon her return, sang during a performance of the Ebony Fashion Fair at Heinz Hall. WOW! She then changed her name to Vea, packed her bags and like many of us, moved to NYC to pursue her dream of becoming a jazz singer. And she did! Jazz vocalist and composer Vea Williams performed with Marion Brown, Albert Daley, Frank Foster, Dexter Gordon, Barry Harris, Dr. Nelson Harrison, John Hicks, Norman Simmons, Ed Stoute, Salieu Suso, Buster Williams, Reggie Workman and other fine jazz artists. She traveled and performed internationally on four continents. Her television appearances include The Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, the Emmy Award Winning PBS Production of LANGSTON, and Voices of Kenya. Her cds are KHLOEE, You've Got This Space, The Underground Railroad To My Heart and Love Blooming. As we Thank Vea for her creative genius, today we also celebrate Vea As a Heroine and Earth Angel Ascended. She was born into a loving Christian Family, became a devout Buddhist and member of SGI and grew to love and honor All People of All Faiths. It didn't matter to Vea what you believed or what your social status was. Throughout her life on Earth, Vea Offered Only Love. That is why through social media, cards and by phone, the generous outpouring of Love for Vea has been phenomenal. I'd like to read a few of comments to you. From the Backers, Portis, & Blakey Families… "Our hearts are filled with grief that we couldn't explain...Our Classy, Joyful, Soulful, Talented and Loving Neighbor! May your singing shine among the Angels...May God continue to Bless & Keep your family through this difficult time. Lord...Let Vea's Love, Music and Smile, Shine through in the pearly gates of Heaven." "Dear Vea Williams, it was such a pleasure to know you and experience your exceptional talents. The Happy Angel Band has reclaimed you while yet we love and remember you. Sincere condolences to your family who so generously shared you with us," wrote master musicologist and musician Dr. Nelson Harrison. Saundra Silliman wrote "I have many wonderful memories of our time together, singing or chanting and the sound of our rich alto voices. When I first met Vea over 30 years ago, I couldn’t believe that anybody could be that happy and bubbly, but it was real, through and through. A beautiful friend with many talents, however, changing diapers was not one of them. Vea babysat Kia and changed Kia’s diaper. When I stood Kia up, not only did the diaper almost fall off, it was on backwards! Vea and I just looked at each other and laughed. There was always laughter." "Thank you Vea, for holding my hand when I was in labor on April 20th, 1993 during the birth of my fortune baby Jionne,” said Valerie McMicheal. She was there at Methodist Hospital during my delivery holding my hand. We Call Vea "Buddha Mom". Saxophonist Dale Fielder writes, "Farewell my beloved sister and friend. I shall never forget your love and assistance to my life and the beautiful times we shared. Knowing you was truly a blessing.... my heart is so heavy and the words are just too small... Godspeed and Well Done!" From Rev. Nettie Paisley, whose Beloved Ascended Earth Angel Husband, Master Pianist and Vea's Long Time Keyboardist Ed Stoute, was just welcomed at the Pearly Gates of Heaven... "Peace and blessings to Vea, the Diva with the beautiful smile and heart! I am feeling your warmth and radiance." Says Cynthia Holliday, "I loved Vea. She and I use to laugh about blonds having more fun. I loved her voice and style." "Rest in Paradise Vea. I know you have joined the Heavenly Jazz Orchestra." wrote SiSTAR Jazz Diva Stephanie Bates. As we travel on our Infinite Journey, at each destination we leave a Legacy of our Love, our creative accomplishments and our ability to inspire. For it is through Love and Inspiration that we are Re-Membered and thrive in Eternity. Today, We Celebrate Loretta Veatrice Williams. But today, Vea Is Here With Us, asking us to Honor the Heroines and Heroes on Earth Today and All who came in Love and Ascended in Love. Like Vea, Everyone Has a Gift to Share! Please, put your hand on your hearts. Feel the Earth Angel Heroine Spirit Vea... Vea Has a Message for All of Us... "Let your hearts become musical, nurturing gardens of Healing and Peace. Do this for the Future of All Children, and Loving sentient beings. Open your hearts and embrace humility, creativity, compassion and Joy. With Love, Honor your ancestors, grandparents, parents, children, family members and your neighbors. Work hard but also Sing with birds in the rain. Dance in the Sun with butterflies. Swim in the ocean with the dolphins. Sit under a wisdom tree and share your hope with your children, your families and friends. Live Joyfully with Love in Peace!" To Our Beloved Vea We Say Yes. And As You Soar to the Eagle Peak and Enter the Many Mansions of the Heaven Realm... We Know that You Will Sing In the Choirs of Hope, the Orchestras of Compassion and the Jazz Bands of Love. Until We Meet Again, we will try to live as you lived. We Will Honor the Heroines and Heroes on Earth/Heart Today and All Who Like YOU Came in Love and Ascended in Love!" Rev. Melony McGant"

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Please pass my condolences to the Williams family whom I knew when working with Vea's sisters Couki and Gloria, and their friend Tina Thompson in their group SISTERHOOD.


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