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

Either we do not know or have temporarily forgotten that American Jazz was the first indigenous art form to be designated as a National Treasure by the U.S. Congress via HR57 in 1987.  The only other art form to receive such an esteemed validation is American Tap Dance which received the recognition of May 25 as National Tap Dance Day in the U.S in 1989.  This does not hold true for symphonic music, rock & roll, Elvis, Prince, Shirley Temple, C & W nor,  as so frivolously pointed out by Mr. Humphreys' recent article, the hula hoop, Pee Wee Herman or the legendary Porculator.  American symphonies continue to receive inarguable support and funding by patrons and it is well deserved, however, symphonic music is European in origin and cannot claim to be an indigenous art form for America.

To suggest that the need for jazz programming, education and celebration is based on the individual tastes of a population segment is, at best, not the strongest argument that can be made in support of its promulgation, extension and transmission.  Jazz was the flagship of American international diplomacy following WW II and has served America in a positive way far beyond anything that the war machine or economic largesse has accomplished, i.e., even our enemies love it despite the fact that they may not be too fond of us.

Jazz may not even be the most profitable element in our national tool box at present but I dare say it has been the most influential internationally in representing the spirit of the American people and softening the hearts of people in every civilized nation.

One might wonder why it receives so little support from the domestic powers that be when it may perhaps be our most successful export.

It might be argued that those who produce National Treasure from their own thoughts and efforts are also valuabe assets to our society.  Maybe we should think of jazz as a sport (which it actually is).

Your opinions are always welcome here.

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Replies to This Discussion

As so often is the case the history of jazz and its impact on popular culture then and now is overlooked by many including educators, educational systems, etc. When you suggest that we think of jazz as a sport, I am sure you are alluding to the textures of improvisation. However my concern is the cultural context of jazz. You can not imagine the joy I felt when my fourteen year old hip hop ("in the real sense") Grandson came into the room yesterday as I was reviewing the recordings on this site. He asked, "Nan are you listening to jazz?" This is where the future of the artform is centered in my opinion. His question opened-up a dialogue for us to have an inter-generational conversation about race, economics, as well as music and musicians.

That's wonderful news Imelda.  There was a bit of tongue in cheek in my analogy but it does go much beyond improvisation.  Jazz is a way of life or worldview if you will, the performance of which requires as much self-development, self-discipline and awareness as any Olympic sport or martial art.  Jazz is also a universal language that can be spoken directly among those who understand it and that includes that fans and listeners.  It has the intrinsic power to move tha human spirit and spontaneously create new forms while also transcending time and space.  If you want to pursue this line of reference further, may I suggest you view my 6-part video on the "Metaphysics of Music" posted on my page and also on YouTube?  I appreciate your response and look forward to feedback from you.

"It [Jazz] has the intrinsic power to move tha human spirit and spontaneously create new forms while also transcending time and space." That is so beautifully put, Dr. Harrison. Absolute prose.

 But, in the context of discussing the future of the jazz industry, I fear that sort of intellectualization presents an obstacle to mass appeal. It's a quandary, because I don't believe anyone should ever dummy down. Please correct me, Dr. Harrison, if I am historically inaccurate in the following statement: Jazz, in it's roots and in it's heyday, was street music - New Orleans red light district where Joplin's Rags were bawdy brothel music; thousands of speakeasies where gangsters, society elites and blue collar folks gathered to consume illegal substances and play illegal games; dance halls all over the world (Thank you, WW II) where people lindied themselves into a sweaty, passionate frenzy. It was the music of joyous rebellion, a defiant middle finger in the face of tragedy. It served a different cultural purpose then as opposed to now. IMO, American Jazz has somehow evolved into "listening music."  People don't dance and sing to jazz music anymore. Instead, they sit, they listen, they "appreciate," they applaud after every solo, magnificent or mundane, because its de rigeur. That's all well and good - as far as it goes; but it doesn't go far with many people. Again, IMO, contemporary American Jazz would do well to incorporate more "street" rhythms and sounds into it's compositions. Marcus Miller demonstrated that fusion beautifully on "Amandla," the album he produced for Miles Davis. There were some visceral, grinding grooves on that record, yet it was unmistakably Jazz. Latin music is both highly improvisational and highly danceable. People get all sweaty behind that stuff.

That's what Jazz USED to do before it was cool. Please, tell me where I can find some hot jazz.
As a fan I must say that I have always been intrigued by this sophisticated form of pleasurable music. It truly moves within your soul and makes you heart smile. It is also a true present of sorts just watching the performances, as you can sense the oneness of the artists. I have often wandered myself, why there is such little respect for this music, especially in this rich Jazz home of Pgh. Just my thoughts! Thank you.
This pop-porn will ruin a whole generation
Posted on July 3, 2011 by Lisa
By Mike Stocke

The recent final of Britain’s Got Talent was broadcast on a Saturday evening, featured two finalists who were 11 and 12 years old, and was watched by millions of children of about the same age or even younger.

Yet the producers still thought it appropriate that the guest-star Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the raunchy band the Pussycat Dolls, was dressed in a knicker-skimming mini-dress, bumping and grinding her hips suggestively through her latest hit, while singing ‘Come on baby, put your hands on my body . . . right there’.

Ms Scherzinger’s gyrations prompted me to voice my concerns about the insidious impact the music industry was having on our children.

The lyrics of pop songs had become too sexualised, that music videos had effectively turned into soft-core pornography, and that the combined impact of both is almost certainly having a hugely damaging effect on our children.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback I’ve received from countless people, many of them worried parents, who said that they agreed with me wholeheartedly.

It seems that society – even the most liberal-minded sections of it – is finally waking up to the huge damage that this flood of highly sexualised images is doing to our children. As someone who’s been in the music industry for over 40 years, written some 400 hits and worked with artistes such as Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley, I long for the days when pop music was for everyone; when it filled the musical gap between childhood and adulthood.

Songs such I Should Be So Lucky and Never Gonna Give You Up may have had the odd moment of cheekiness, but they were, first and foremost, fun, could be listened to (and sung along with) by anyone, and never over-stepped the mark.

Now, however, an entire generation of young girls, some as young as eight or nine, is growing up transfixed by the writhings and thrustings of performers such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna, singing along to lines such as ‘Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it’, and understandably convinced of one thing – that sex sells.

Just as worrying is the impact the same material must be having on young boys. What is happening now doesn’t just undo all the good work done by the feminists of the 70s, it drags us almost back to the Stone Age. Women, as seen through the eyes of the music industry, have become little more than sex objects again.

And what a surprise, the industry doing the damage, the music industry, is absolutely dominated by men. Katy Perry may have ‘kissed a girl’, but only because men thought they could make money out of it.

Though some have laid blame on record labels, I believe he got the idea right but the targets wrong.
For me, it is the broadcasters – and by that I mean the main terrestrial broadcasters, the BBC and ITV – who have to put their house in order.

Even today, five years after Top of the Pops was cancelled and when a single download costs just 79p, it is still impossible to have a hit single without support from these terrestrial broadcasters.

So if they said no to the pelmet-skirts, the bump-and-grind routines and the suggestive lyrics, the music business would soon fall into line, as, in turn, would the fashion and publishing industries.

Much of the most sexualised material originates from the US, where, paradoxically, thanks to tighter regulation and a high regard for so-called family values, it would struggle to be shown in many states on mainstream TV.

British broadcasters must also rediscover their moral courage and wake up to what is being done here. In time-honoured tradition, sex is being used to sell something – music. But what is new and frightening is that, this time, sex is being used to sell music to children. That has to stop, and quickly.

Some 20 years ago, I recall making a music video that was going to be shown on Saturday morning television, and in which a box of matches was visible at the edge of a shot. That video would not run.

That’s what the BBC and ITV executives have to do now: look at the choreography and the costumes, listen to the lyrics, and ask themselves some simple questions. Pop music used to be an innocent joy. Now there’s a real danger that its cynical and relentless addiction to sex could damage our children in a way that may last their entire lifetime – defining not just how they see themselves, but each other, too.

It’s time to put the lingerie, the stilettos and the mucky lyrics away – and to rediscover the simple pleasures of pop.

The author is a song writer

Posted in News | Tagged BEt, Lady Gaga, mtv, Rihanna | Leave a comment


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