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

NATHAN DAVIS SEXTET at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium - 1973

L-R: Frank Cunimondo - elec. piano, Roger Humphries - drums, Joe Kennedy, III - acoustic piano, Mike Taylor - bass, Nathan Davis - soprano sax, Nelson Harrison - trombone.

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Location: Pittsburgh, PA


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Comment by SOUTHSIDE JERRY MELLIX on November 14, 2015 at 5:14pm

"Ha-ha-ha"  Thanks for the corrections and kind words Nelson.  It was so long ago.   I was so star struck and nervous then that I hardly remember more then what I've noted.  Wow!  I didn't know that Joe Westray, Chuck Austin and Art Nance were there too...heroes of my past, especially Art. 

And yes, I do remember Bobby O. Brown and his dangerous antics...LOL.   I also remember Willie Beck faking my father's signature and Joe (aka Chipper) Gray's grand mom's signature so that we could get out of Fifth Ave. H.S. early, to do the gig.  Different time-different priorities......"I don't recommend you young musicians doing that today". 

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on November 14, 2015 at 4:25pm

Thanks Jerry.  We had a lot of fun on the road with Studio-E Band for 5 years. You were also a great room-mate.

I remember quite well the Derrick Martin Show in 1964 but it was not at the Stanley.  It was the very last show at the Lowe's Penn Theater before they closed ti to build Heinz Hall. I was with the house band which was Joe Westray's Orchestra and we were not in the pit but on stage.  I remember the Crossfires.

Do you remember Bobby O. Brown who was part of our band?  He is the singer who would climb up high on top or the speakers and fall head first onto the floor from about 8 feet up without hurting himself, then get right up and continue singing.  Thanks for the memories partner.  Art Nance was in our band as well as Chuck Austin, Bob "Ponytail" Wagner.  Our drummer was either Roscoe Vire or Sylvester Goshay.  I think it was Roscoe because I remember some comments he made.

Comment by SOUTHSIDE JERRY MELLIX on November 14, 2015 at 8:07am

Very nice.  I wonder what year this was.  I'm guessing the 70's. 

I had the pleasure of taking a few classes with Dr. Davis.  At the time I was working all day and playing most nights, so I missed out on a lot of what he was teaching.  My loss.

I had the wonderful experience to sit beside and perform with Dr. Harrison for over 5 years.  Now that was an education.  Thanks Doc! 

I did my first professional gig with a group from the Hill District called, 'Little' Willie Beck & The Crossifires.  I was 15 going on 16.  We were hired in 1964 to open for a show (w/Lee Dorsey, Derrick Martin and some other popular recording artist of the day) at he Stanley Theatre in downtown Pittsburgh.  I didn't know it then but Nelson Harrison was in the pit with the rest of the house band backing the different acts.  Little did I know that I'd someday get to play along side my super talented brother!!  Doc. Harrison can remember every song he ever played and who he played with, that's how I knew we crossed paths early on.

Comment by Anthony (Tony) Janflone on November 14, 2015 at 6:12am

I played with every one except Joe Kennedy III and Nathan.

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