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

All that Jazz

click to view gallery

View Gallery




Become a fan of Fanfare on facebook!

Become a fan of Fanfare!

Become a fan of Fanfare to get updates from Kate.

Click here for the latest Fanfare photo galleries.


Ways to get us


By Jean Horne
Monday, August 13, 2007

The rains came, as they are wont to do at the most inconvenient times this steamy, humid month. But the showers did not bring an end -- just the briefest of intervals -- to last Tuesday's Jazz in Katz Plaza, part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's JazzLiveseries. Jazzmeister Nelson Harrison and his combo abandoned the damp, sauna-like atmosphere of the plaza last Tuesday for the air-conditioned comfort of the Backstage Bar at Theater Square, where the talented musicians wove some smooth, cool jazz and evoked its Pittsburgh halcyon days.

Don't know jazz? As Louis Armstrong said, "Man, if you have to ask what it is, you'll never know." Harrison, a true master of this quintessential American musical form, knows the art form not only academically (he holds a doctorate), but also in his very bones. He's written more than 400 pieces, including movie scores and soundtracks, and has played with the likes of the eminent Count Basie Orchestra, Billy Eckstine and Earl "Fatha" Hines, as well as recorded with Walt Harper and Nathan Davis.

"Not bad for an unrehearsed group, eh?" Harrison asked during intermission. Unbelievable understatement. The musicians sounded in peak performance, as if they had played together all their lives. Not so. It was the first night Harrison (on his intricately convoluted, self-designed "trombetta" horn) played with the group, which also included drummer James Johnson III (who toured with Pittsburgh jazz great Ahmad Jamal for years);Jessie Willis, who came in with mellow, expressive vocals; Donna Davis, whose fleet fingers flew across her keyboard; Jeff Grubbs on sonorous bass; and Calvin Pearson, whose bongos provided apt punctuation.

"If I get the right people, I can do that," said Harrison, who played often at the renowned Crawford Grill. "Sheet music can't hold a candle to jazz."

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust offers the two-part and free JazzLive, first in Katz Plaza, from 5-7 p.m. each Tuesday until the end of the month, followed each night by more jazz in the Backstage Bar from 7 until 10. Last Tuesday, the Tim Stevens Project took the second dazzling shift.

And what a trust it is. From nurturing jazz in Pittsburgh, which contributed much to the genre, including favorite sons Ahmad Jamal and Errol Garner, to enhancing Downtown as a bustling cultural destination, the Cultural Trust deserves some plaudits of its own. Janis Burley Wilson, vice president for education and programs for the Trust, takes her mission seriously, not only planning an entertaining schedule of summer events but also ensuring her darling young daughters, Margaux and Liza, hear and know the best of Pittsburgh jazz.

Also on hand were folks like Maria Scherin and Jeff Bretton, as well as Vernon Morgan; Teri Dawne; Teresa Hayward; and Mischelle McMillan. Fanfare also spotted Ron Protz; John Loverti; and Nellie Curran and Dick Rhoton in the Backstage Bar. Lynne Figgins walked over after work to hear the group. Mary Davis proudly watched her daughter's keyboard talent. Bill Harrison reminisced about his and his brother Nelson's days at Westinghouse High School, which he noted fostered a flock of talented jazz and classical musicians.

Also spotted: Diane Zupi and Andrew Forrest; and Lorene and Denis Vinskias well as Carolyn Mozlack; Nancy Lee Cochran; Karen Miller; Bonnie Trucco; and David Douthett. Other jazz connoisseurs included Rita Wilson; Kathleen Morris; Donna Perkins; Bert McConomy; Ruth Mozzy; Heidi Mashiska; Tom Mozzy; Leslie Goodman; and the dapper Demetrius Hammett.

-- Sandra Donovan

Views: 169


You need to be a member of Pittsburgh Jazz Network to add comments!

Join Pittsburgh Jazz Network

© 2021   Created by Dr. Nelson Harrison.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service