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
Jessie Wills
  • Female
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • United States
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  • 1.
    Track No09
  • 2.
    This Happy Madness
  • 3.
  • 4.
    Some Other Time
  • 5.
    Nobody's Heart
  • 6.
    My Heart Stood Still
  • 7.
    Moment to Moment
  • 8.
    Lush Life
  • 9.
    Little Red's Dream
  • 10.
    I Wished on the Moon
  • 11.
    Fleur D'Elise
  • 12.
  • 13.
    Adam's Apple
  • 14.
    Soul Eyes
  • 15.
    Quiet Now
  • 16.
    Night Has 1000 eyes
  • 17.
    Nova Azul
  • 18.
    Out of this World
  • 19.
    Blue Daniel
  • 20.
    Can This Be Love
  • 21.
  • 22.
    My Romance

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Profile IconJessie Wills and Jessie Wills were featured
Jan 31, 2022

Profile Information

Favorite website
Pittsburgh Connection
Born and raised.
Favorite Pittsburgh musicians/performers
The ones who can really swing. You know who you are!
About Me:
I have sung throughout my life in the Pittsburgh area… performing in church and school, park concerts, local clubs, private parties and KDKA-TV with the late Johnny Costa of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I then took a detour to raise a family. Several years ago I returned to the jazz scene with the encouragement of family and friends in the industry to once again work locally with a number of fine musicians such as Don Aliquo, Bobby Cardillo, Frank Cunimondo and Dr. Nelson Harrison.

In 1998 I made my first trip to the west coast to perform with my good friend P. J. Oh and began traveling often to Los Angeles to sing with P.J. as well as Ron Kalina, Marty Harris, Tamir Hendleman and others.

Additionally I worked with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra under the direction of Chris Riddle and the Alex Iles Ensemble at the Los Angeles Music Center.

In 1999 I recorded my first CD entitled “What’s in Store?” composing the title song as well as the lyrics for Frank Rosolino’s "Blue Daniel," Mal Waldron’s "Soul Eyes," Eric Susoeff’s "Nova Azul" and Denny Zeitlin’s "Quiet Now." Personnel included are P.J. Oh – piano/arranger, Joe Plutschow – bass, Joe LaBarbera – drums, Lorca Hart – drums, Larry Koonse – guitar and Jim Self – tuba.

In 2001 I released my second CD, “Faces” which reunites the players from my first CD with the addition of Ron Anthony – guitar, Darek Oles – bass and Alex Iles, Bill Booth and Alan Kaplan – trombones. “Faces” is a mix of standards, originals and jazz tunes that I’ve provided with lyrics.

I had the pleasure of doing a guest appearance with Jim Self and Pete Christlieb at Pittsburgh’s Manchester Craftmen’s Guild in a concert that was filmed for PBS.

I have been the featured vocalists with Nelson Harrison’s Jazz ‘N Jive combo at cocktail lounges and jazz concerts since 2001.

Jessie Wills' singing career had its beginning in Pittsburgh, PA, the geographic cradle to many jazz greats. While in high school, Wills hooked up with Johnny Costa, best-known for his work on the popular children's TV show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Following a stint with Frank Cunimondo, she stepped back from her career to raise a family. Returning to jazz in 1993, she appeared at jazz venues in and around Pittsburgh, performing with such local jazz musicians as keyboardist Jeff Lashway and organist Gene Ludwig. Wills has also been part of the big band scene, working with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra and the Tim Bassett Big Band. In 1998, she began commuting between Pittsburgh and the West Coast, where she appeared at such jazz venues as the Café de Sole with pianist Marty Harris and other jazz spots. Her maiden album, What's in Store, released in October of 1999, presents a playlist of popular and jazz standards. Wills also contributes some compositions to the effort. One of the main features of this album is the presence of tuba player Jim Self, whose big instrument works melodic magic as he joins Wills on several of the cuts. Still moving back and forth between the Steel City and the West Coast, Wills worked with Bobby Cardillo in the Pittsburgh area. ......she uses it (her voice) to great advantage with an exceptional ability to give meaning to the lyrics of each song she presents. Perhaps this is a result of her own songwriting activities. Whatever the case, based on her initial album, Jessie Wills should continue to excel as a jazz vocalist. ~ Dave Nathan, All Music Guide
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Jessie Wills's Blog

Alan Bargebuhr - Cadence Magazine Review – December, 2000

Posted on January 10, 2009 at 7:12am 1 Comment

"What's in Store? - Jessie Wills, Canary Label, 1999

“In Jessie Wills, we find straight forward simplicity of style and an openness of voice that is both sanguine and sweet. It is her “Thousand Eyes” that is the preeminent version of the three (I reviewed this time) with some astoundingly linear tuba playing by Jim Self. When Wills scats against his melodic burrowing, there is something metaphysical in the air. Frank Rosolino’s "Daniel" hits a… Continue

Comment Wall (23 comments)

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At 8:34pm on April 3, 2011, Peter Campbell said…
Hello from a rainy Cairo in Egypt. Hope to be in town this summer and catch one of your gigs if you're not going to be in L.A. Regards,
Pter Campbell.
At 8:41pm on April 2, 2011, Marta Graciela Bressi said…

Dear Jessie,

I´d really appreciate it if you could take the time to look at my work and leave your impressions here or in the guestbook on my homepage - where there are more samples of my digital art works, engravings and sculptures. The web site´s in Spanish but, if you want to read the texts in English, you can access my Livejournal: You can also visit the website we created with the Belgian jazz musician Dirk Schreurs to make our recent video art collaboration known to the world:

¨ Minds of Glass: ¨All visual compositions perfectly match the soundtrack’s expressive aesthetics in terms of emotional content and artistic strength” (New York/Los Angeles Independent Media Board).





P.S.: Unfortunately, I' ve got too many contact on the network to add more.Feel free to add me if you want.

At 1:06am on September 14, 2010, Nancy Persinger said…
Dear Jessie,
I love looking at your photographs. You're so beautiful both inside and out. Also, I love hearing you sing. I will be watching for a notice of your next gig.
XOXO, Nancy Persinger
At 4:42am on September 12, 2010, Roger Barbour Sr said…
Hi Jessie, I like your web page and really dig the songs. It's always a pleasure to hear and play with you. Sincerely, Roger barbour
At 11:35pm on November 4, 2009, Luther DeJarunett said…
Hi Jessie! I'm just stopping to enjoy your great vocals! I've been intending to ask you who the tuba player is on My Romance. You did a great job on this tune, and being an old tuba player myself, that of course caught my ear.
At 3:28pm on October 7, 2009, Doug Jackson said…
Best of luck to you, Jessie
At 12:47pm on September 27, 2009, Vince Taglieri said…
I enjoyed playing with you at Ron's the other night. Hope to see you and play with you again soon. My Romance is one of my favorite songs!!!

At 8:55pm on September 13, 2009, Brother Black said…
Hey Jess,

Thanks for being my Jazz Buddy !
At 5:38pm on April 12, 2009, Kent Bey said…
Greetings... I am establishing a live Jazz Night on a Wednesday between 7pm to 10pm at a very nice, clean, and classy venue in the East Liberty area. The evening will feature local Pittsburgh musicians like Tony Campbell and many others performing for a very appreciative audience of jazz lovers.

I am a Pittsburgh native and local youth arts advocate attempting to expose young up and coming artists to the heart and soul of pure Pittsburgh music culture and traditions as they meet and learn from some of the local Music Masters. If you are interested in hosting a Wednesday night once a month or every other month I would be humbled and honored to make this happen.


Kent Bey

At 1:54am on February 27, 2009, Jerry Butler said…
I would love to feature "you" as my guest on my show..If I am not your friend..please add me...also please call me @ the offc at 757 538 3540...757 971 3733 for on the banner below to be a guest...JB



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