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




Your voices have been heard and the Grill will soon reopen. It's important to keep the buzz going to encourage the investors who are taking the risk to save and restore her. Thank you.

Location: 2141 Wylie Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Members: 104
Latest Activity: Aug 22, 2020

Jessica Lee on the Crawford Grill Renovation from Little Red Media on Vimeo.

Crawford Grill purchased...Franco Harris part of investment group
Written by Christian Morrow - Courier Staff Writer
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 11:25

Standing on the corner of Wylie Avenue and Elmore Street in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Franco Harris looks across the street at the names of jazz legends etched on the Legacy senior building—Billy Eckstine, Erroll Garner, Earl “Fatha” Hines—and starts nodding his head.

—Members of the group that bought the Crawford Grill in February include, from left: Robert Meeder, Greg Spencer, Jules Matthews, Victor Rogue, Dwight Mayo, Franco Harris and William Generett.

“This is a good corner,” the Hall-of-Famer said. “You stand here and your head just starts bopping up and down. This is such a historic site that the preservation and history of it has to live on. So the question is, how do we do that? Well, the first step is to buy this building—so we did.”

The building Harris is referring to is the Crawford Grill, a Hill mecca for jazz that closed in 2003. He is among a group of four private investors and three nonprofits that purchased the property in February. The others include Randall Industries founder Greg Spencer, Transportation Solutions owner Dwight Mayo, former Fisher Scientific CEO Bill Recker; Pittsburgh Gateways, The Keystone Innovation Zone and The Hill House Economic Development Corp.

The group plans to restore and preserve the building’s interior space as it was in its heyday and to expand into a vacant lot next door—which the group is currently closing on—with new restaurant and nightclub space. There are also plans for an educational component that would convert the current building’s upper floors to studio, workshop, educational and meeting space, so the Hill District’s jazz legacy can be passed on.

“We had all these talented people who came from Pittsburgh like Ahmad Jamal, who I just saw at the first ever National Jazz Day concert here,” said Harris. “And though they went elsewhere to pursue their careers, they always came back and they were great ambassadors for Pittsburgh. Can we capture how things were and how they evolved? It will be hard, but we’ll try to preserve that feel as closely as possible.”

Pittsburgh Gateways President Robert Meeder said the nonprofits got involved to assist with development issues and will have no part in the eventual operation.

“We as a group are looking to bring back the Grill without compromise. The nonprofits would establish a music-programming theme. So we’re looking at preserving the legacy and establishing an entertainment venue,” he said. “I mean, nonprofits can’t own bars, but we’re involved because we thought if we didn’t do something, it might be turned into a butcher’s shop or torn down completely.”

Spencer said the group is probably a year away from beginning restoration work, and they are still ironing out design ideas.

“It’s a diverse group of investors, and there are diverse perspectives on what to do,” he said. “If it was up to me you’d go in the same door you always did, with the bar on the right and the stage where it was and have an arch into the new space.

“We want to keep as much of what the old Grill was as possible—jazz, a bar with lunch or dinner fare. To me, the more we can talk about it, the more we can get some of the folks who were part of it years ago to give us some insight into it.”

Victor Rogue, Hill House Association interim president and CEO, said the association became a partner because it is interested in restoring vitality of the entire Hill District and the Crawford Grill is part of that vitality.

“When I first came to town 15 years ago, this was the first place I stopped. We want to see the Hill come back as a prime area for housing and commerce,” he said. “This project attracted us because of its history. The history of the Grill is the history of the Hill.”

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Discussion Forum

Crawford Grill #2

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison May 8, 2017. 0 Replies

The Crawford Grill - 2008

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jul 19, 2015. 0 Replies

Comment Wall


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Comment by Reggie Watkins on June 10, 2008 at 6:27pm
If there is any club worth saving it's this one. Serious history here and a favorite of musicians. They always had great food and a real neighborhood vibe as well. The Grill should be THE place to go hear artists like Roger Humphries and others. I miss it. RW
Comment by T. Foley on May 28, 2008 at 9:08pm
I heard about the Crawford Grill while I was a student at Duquesne University and started going there in the early 90s. I remember the amazing music, that people dressed so beautifully, the incredible collection of art work that was there (who did that portrait of a man or men with the bright green background?), the good, good food (the best lemon cake I ever had in my whole life) and the great drinks. I also recall a singer named Lovey (is that correct?) and the Dancing Demons (sp?) showing up to do their thing on stage. I remember seeing people come in from St. Benedict the Moor (where I went to church), and people coming in from all over the country and the world who knew about jazz history and wanted to stop in. There was a little library in the corner up front and you would see people looking things up in books.

I remember returning after a number of years (early or mid-2000-something?) later and was completely downhearted that the art collection was gone.
Comment by david shane on May 12, 2008 at 11:46pm
....count me in....i feel the spirit and hear the sounds of all that musicianship when i'm nearby.....or far away....there is much to say on this, and the future of jazz in pgh which is not as bad as people make it out to be....
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on March 26, 2008 at 6:17am
Please check out the live sounds from the Grill that are posted on my page. I will soon add some more from the Janelle Burdell Trio with Anne Friedland on vocals and organ with me in 1991. Super sounds indeed.
Comment by Anne Annie Friedland on March 24, 2008 at 9:28pm
I remember just walking in to the Grill at 16 and asked Richard "Groove" Holmes if I could sit in. He gladly said "yes". I also played there many times, with Nelson too!!!! I miss the old days, all talent no sequencing or cheating......AH I am again in 19....
Comment by Derrick Finch on March 21, 2008 at 5:22pm
The Grill. There was so much great music there. The people who supported the Crawford Grill were family. I have some of the greatest memories and associations that will always have a major influence on my musical and personal life. There needs to be more places like the Grill. Universities and other institutions of learning can never harnest the amount of artistic learning. The Grill taught you music proper, hardship, love and compassion. Mike Taylor, Spencer Bey, Mike Davis, etc. will never be forgot. Yes. The 'grill' needs to continue if the city of Pittsburgh truly loves its international status as a major contributor to the arts. We are playing with a serious legacy whose roots run deep in America's Classical Music, Jazz. I will keep my fingers crossed while continuing to playing the music I learned at the Grill everywhere I go.

Derrick Finch

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