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

Are Jazz Musicians Willing to Leave This Earth Empty?

The Survival of Jazz, an interesting topic of sorts. I am located on the West Coast and I have quite frankly been doing a lot of soul searching in regards to this very topic. With the demise of radio stations that play jazz, whether it's Traditional or Contemporary, the economic boom, and all the other reasons to make one take note to the demise of Jazz. How is Jazz surviving? If one were to look at the recent closures of Jazz Festivals across the country, you would think that jazz fans would be in an uproar. I guess here on the West Coast, we're spoiled. We have the Playboy Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, West Coast Jazz Party, and so many other local jazz festivals that you wouldn't think that jazz surviving is even an issue here, but I will say I have to agree with the notion that jazz will not continue to survive even on the West Coast. I’m a novice in the jazz world, love listening to you it, whether it’s recorded or live, but what has bothered me the most is the rising concern of it’s survival. I’ve started reading all the articles and blogs been posted about the survival of jazz and it has brought me to an awareness that something needs to be done before it gets to the point of death. Herein lies the problem, “At the same time, the cost of attending a live jazz concert, regardless of venue, is out of reach for many, especially young people and those of limited economic means—the very same folks who need to hear the music to understand and appreciate its cultural relevance.” We have cut the very source of survival at the root. The youth of today, have no investment in keeping this music alive. Sure there are several academic jazz programs in select schools across the nations, how many of these are in Inner Cities schools? I attend most Jazz festivals here on the West Coast and you don’t see any young children at the festivals, why is that? Most of the festivals will have a High School band or ensemble open up the festival, but that’s the extent of their involvement. The old guard of jazz musicians in my opinion has abandoned the notion that they need to reach back and give this great legacy to others to carry the torch from here. Let’s not even talk about Smooth Jazz versus Straight-Ahead Jazz; you will open up a can of whip ass. (LOL) Here is where change kicks in and new creative ideas are put into practice. SmoothAhead is a concept of sorts. Bridging the old with the new and moving ahead into a new future. The old guard hands the baton to the new guard with an overwhelming amount of responsibility in making sure that the survival of jazz is not even an option. There's a saying, when I leave this earth, I want to die empty, are Jazz Musicians willing to give all they have inside of themselves to the next generation to carry the torch into the future. I’m open to comments! Posted June 14, 2009

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