PITTSBURGH 3D




Roger Humphries


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



As our musical icons are graduating into the higher realms we want to keep them fresh in our memories.  Please join this group where you can post any obituaries of the ancestors of our tradition for all to read and learn more about them.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Members: 85
Latest Activity: Nov 14


Obituary: Delsey McKay / Jazz pianist and songwriter Saturday, December 11, 2004 By Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Delsey McKay, a pianist and songwriter who shared stages with the likes of Duke Ellington and Aretha Franklin, died Sunday of cancer at UPMC Shadyside. She was 80. Ms. McKay, who spent her last years in her native Pittsburgh, was a jazz legend whom stardom had eluded. She got her break in the New York jazz scene in the late '60s, when English musician and jazz aficionado Peter McDonough met her during a vacation to see his sister. McDonough said the highlight of his "jazz vacation" to New York City in 1969 was hearing Ms. McKay perform. He asked her to send him a tape, and that tape wound up in the hands of a London disc jockey who was producing a special on the BBC. "He wanted Delsey to be on the show on the strength of this tape," said McDonough, who lives in Pittsburgh. McDonough relayed the DJ's invitation to Ms. McKay to go to London for recording sessions. In a matter of days, he said, she sent a telegram to say she was arriving at Heathrow and needed a ride. She was signed to a recording contract with Decca of England, where she had minor success with the song "Hold Her Hand a Little Higher." It was a tribute to the Statue of Liberty that she had written on the day the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was never released in the United States. "She had many offers in the U.S.," said McDonough, "but all the companies wanted her to be another Aretha Franklin, and she wanted to record her own compositions." In 1970, Ms. McKay's participation in the Coupe du Chant d'Europe, a pop-music Olympics in Belgium, helped the U.S. team win the adjudicated contest. "Delsey was considered by the Melody Maker of England, the bible of popular and jazz music, to be the star of the show," said McDonough. Her success earned her tours of Europe, and in 1974 London Records of New York released "I've Been There." Soon after, she wrote the bicentennial song "Sing American Sing," which was inducted into the permanent archives of U.S. Congress. McDonough remained in her sphere throughout her life, acting as her personal manager when she traveled in Europe. Together, they formed the nonprofit American Bicentennial Artists to produce historical educational musical works in Pittsburgh. Ms. McKay became a mentor of young musicians and people in the arts, he said. Daughter Constance Ward describes her mother as having been "on the go all the time. She was all about music. And she didn't meet any strangers. She would talk to a dog if one was standing on the corner." Ms. McKay gave master classes in the form of concerts, with question-and-answer sessions, at Point Park College and Carlow College. She also worked with Generations Together, a mentoring program. Charles Austin, president of the African-American Jazz Preservation Society, remembers playing on bills with Ms. McKay in local clubs in the 1950s. "She had an act. She was very slender and she would put her body through a coat hanger. She was a dancer. To me it was unbelievable." Ms. McKay was an honorary life member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 60-471, a member of Broadcast Music Inc. and a one-time member of the African-American Jazz Preservation Society, in Pittsburgh. One of the highlights of her life was taking part in breaking ground for the African-American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C., a few years ago, said McDonough. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Maurice Brooks, both of Pittsburgh; three sisters, Lucretia Tabb and Rebecca Hamilton, both of Pittsburgh, and Catherine Powell, of South Carolina; two brothers, Leonard Tabb and Daniel Tabb, both of Pittsburgh; and five grandchildren. A funeral service will be held at West Funeral Home, 2215 Wylie Ave., Hill District, at 11 a.m. today. Interment will be at Allegheny Cemetery. First published on December 11, 2004 at 12:00 am Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at or 412-263-1626. Read more:

Discussion Forum

Charlotte Ella Batch Nelson - Mother of Steve Nelson and former owner of The Crazy Quilt Dies at 83

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Roberta Jean Windle Nov 1. 1 Reply

CHARLOTTE ELLA (BATCH) NELSON1930 - 2014 | Obituary |  …Continue

Tags: mother, music, jazz, quilt, crazy

Veteran jazz guitarist and mentor Henderson Thomas, Sr. dies at 84

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Roberta Jean Windle Nov 1. 3 Replies

HENDERSON THOMAS Sr.Obituary |  …Continue

Tags: network, music, dies, obituary, jazz

Joe Sample, Iconic Jazz Pianist, Dies at 75

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by martin thomas Sep 14. 3 Replies

VALLERY JEAN/FILMMAGICSEPTEMBER 13, 2014 | 09:08AM PTMaane Khatchatourian…Continue

Tags: network, pittsburgh, music, composer, jazz

Gerald Wilson dies at 96; multifaceted jazz musician

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Dr. Nelson Harrison Sep 11. 2 Replies

In a lifetime that spanned a substantial portion of the history of jazz, Gerald Wilson’s combination of articulate composition skills with a far-reaching creative vision carried him successfully…Continue

Tags: big, band, trumpet, music, network

Comment Wall


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Comment by lorraine cook on June 1, 2011 at 12:24pm

Lou Brock will be missed, he seem happiest when he was entertaining and what a true entertainer he was!!


Comment by Dan Wasson on June 1, 2011 at 4:32am

Will miss Lou Brock


Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 1, 2011 at 3:28am
Alvin (Lou) Brock  has made his Transition

Alvin (Lou) Brock died Saturday May 28. Lou entertained jazz lovers in and around Pittsburgh for many many years. When you think of Lou you think of Carl's Cork and Keg and the many other places that Lou played.

He is survived by his wife Nadine (Phipps) Brock, Sons Alvin Jr. and David. Daughters Karen and Robin. Brothers Richard and Phillip and Sister Helen

Viewing will be Friday June 3, @ Jones Funeral Home Wylie Ave Pittsburgh PA 15219 from 4PM unitl 8PM

A memorial service will be held at a later date to be announced.
Comment by Regina Johnson on April 7, 2011 at 1:22am
Imagine the 'joyous noise' . . Luther, Gene, Squirrel, Lena joining Errol, Art, Billy, Dakota and too many others that we have lost. .  representing Pittsburgh! Everytime we loose such a talent, it's like we've lost them all, all over again. 
Comment by Bettoman on March 16, 2011 at 9:10pm
I remember when Melvin Sparks first came to Pittsburgh as the replacement for George Benson in the Jack McDuff Quartet at the Hurricane.  I last saw him at the Detroit Jazz Festival in September 2010 backing singer Ernie Andrews along with Louis Hayes, Bobby Watson and an organist.
Comment by Roberta Jean Windle on March 16, 2011 at 8:08pm
It is so very important to remember & praise those who have been such an important part of our lives. Very, very important!
Comment by Garl Germany III on March 16, 2011 at 5:20pm
Luther was really one of the best, he will be missed.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on March 16, 2011 at 5:18pm

Melvin Sparks Dies at 64

March 16, 2011 – - Melvin Sparks, a much-in-demand soul-jazz guitarist who recorded with virtually all of the great organists of the late ’60s and ’70s and pioneered a sound that borrowed from Grant Green and Sly Stone, died on March 13 . He was 64. Sparks was at his best playing a muscular, groovy rhythm guitar behind organists like Leon Spencer and Charles Earland , breaking out occasionally with a melodic, groovy solo. He was a mainstay at Prestige during the ’70s, where he was a first-call session guitarist noted for his pulsating twangy feel.

Two of my favorite albums featuring Sparks are Leon Spencer’s Louisiana Slim (1971) and Charles Earland’s Infant Eyes (1978). Here’s Leon Spencer on Mercy, Mercy Me with Sparks keeping jazz-soul time. And here’s Charles Earland’s Thang from 1978 off of Infant Eyes, with Sparks running a string-bending solo. Also on the date: Bill Hardman (tp), Frank Wess (fl,ts), Mack Goldsbury Melvin Sparks, Grady Tate (d) and Lawrence Killian (perc).

Comment by Dan Wasson on March 16, 2011 at 4:39pm
has anyone heard any news about Roland Draft?
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on March 13, 2011 at 4:28pm


|   Visit Guest Book
On March 7, 2011, Turhan, age 74 of Penn Hills. Husband of Bariki Hall Shabazz; father of Charles Raymond Casey, Angela Renee Cook, James Edward Casey, Crystal Lynn Rodes, Donita Sawyer, Brandon Rahman Casey and Kevin Casey; brother of Sybil Jones; also survived by grandchildren, other relatives and friends. Visitation will be Friday 2-8 p.m. at the First Church of God in Christ 700 Talbot Ave., Braddock where the funeral service will be held Saturday, 10 a.m. Interment Monongahela Cemetery. Services of comfort entrusted to WATTS MEMORIAL CHAPEL INC., 808 Talbot Ave. Braddock 412-271-3880.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from March 10 to March 11, 2011

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