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

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Comment by Flo Taylor on March 12, 2011 at 9:13pm

I am posting here today because I miss my friend, Luther DeJarunett. I hope I'm posting in the right place. I miss him dearly and need to vent my pain at not being able to dial his number and hear his voice, which I did often.


For the past few years I have been somewhat preoccupied and have not kept in touch with many people, but he was one of the few that I stayed in contact with. He was someone who was always ready to lend an ear, always there when I needed someone to talk to. There were times when he could not get out and about and I didn't mind doing whatever I could to help him as well.


When I heard of his death two days ago, I thought I got the information wrong so I began calling people, hoping that a mistake had been made...then I went to his Facebook page and the reality hit me...a day late. I had just talked to him two days before. He was planning to do his next gig, an annual fundraiser that he looked forward to every year with the Tim Stevens Project. He had a bad cold and said he was going to get some rest.

I talked to one of his long time friends, Michelle, this morning who advised me to try not to be upset and that folks were taking care of the burial/ceremonial plans. I talked to his neighbor (he found him) who also assured me that everything is being taken care of and that relatives who live outside of Pittsburgh have been contacted. One is a nurse, fortunately. There are questions to be answered.

What Luther and I had in common was an inability to sleep sometimes. From the beginning of our friendship he was one that I called and I was one that he called at ANY time, night or day. He talked about not wanting to die alone...not wanting to die soon and that is exactly what happened. As time passed and I took on another 'life assignment', we didn't talk as long or as much at night, but I kept in touch with him on a regular basis. I miss him so much and I am angry at what has happened to him. I know that I am supposed to be accepting, since there isn't a damn thing to be done now, but that is not happening. I am restless and I think that his spirit must be, also.

I am in Houston now and unfortunately won't be there for the service, so I'll continue to be in contact with those who are 'in the mix' right now. Luther was a fantastic musician, a wonderful person and I miss him incredibly. I don't know if he is resting in peace though...he's just gone. Too soon. His death was untimely, unexpected and unnecessary. Right now, I need to hear from Butch McGhee and Nelson.

Comment by Roberta Jean Windle on March 12, 2011 at 2:26pm
For all the special musicians who have gone to that better place, your memories will live forever.
Comment by Harold Walker on March 11, 2011 at 10:32am

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