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
Betters brings sweet sounds to museum
Monday, February 21, 2005

About the writer
Dawn Law is a stringer for the Tribune-Review.

If you can feel the music, then it is real.
During Harold Betters' five decades in the music business, he has appeared on television, played from the Apollo to the Super Bowl and made numerous recordings that can be heard on jazz radio.

Betters has worked with Slide Hampton, David "Fathead" Newman and Al Hirt, to name a few.

Even Louis Armstrong liked his sound.

He has conducted jazz seminars and workshops at the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and West Virginia University, and was recently inducted into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame.

Betters turns 77 next month, and says it all started with parents Robert and Lela, who owned a jazz club in the Connellsville area, where he still lives with wife Marjorie.

Betters' six siblings played an instrument, and Harold's choice was the trombone.

"My idol is J.J. Johnson, but the guy that got me started was Tommy Dorsey. The trombone player was real sweet, and that's what I wanted to play."

After formal music training at Ithaca College and the Brooklyn Conservatory, Betters was drafted in 1950.

He played in the 308th Army Band for two years, and that's where Betters says he learned how to play music.

"You don't really get to know it until you get out in the streets. I can tell a guy that's knowledgeable about music, but he doesn't feel it. When you hear stuff like that, you should feel it, and know how to move."

The Harold Betters Quartet performed Thursday for the Westmoreland Jazz Society at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg.

Kevin Moore was on keyboard and Cecil Brooks II played the drums.

Chuck Ramsey, who has worked with Betters for 45 years, accompanied on vocals and bass.

Blowing snow was visible through the windows of McKenna Gallery when Betters put on a pair of sunglasses and took on the persona of the late Ray Charles for the tune, "Georgia On My Mind."

He interjected "Amen" into Ramsey's rich rendition of "Drown in My Own Tears."

The quartet toured with Charles, and the song was "one of Ray's favorite numbers," Betters said.

"To me, I don't think it's taught. I think it's born. You got that down, baby? It's inward. That's jazz."

The quartet inspired a standing ovation, something that happens once or twice a season, society organizers said.

"To me, jazz is a style," Betters said. "The nicest compliment I get from people is when they hear my music and they say, 'It's Harold Betters.'"

Seen at the society: Kathy Johnson and her 92-year old aunt, Louise Bolling, who drove all the way from Akron, Ohio; Joe and Pat Erdelsky, Linda Kubas; John Myers; Lou and Joan DeRose; Cliff and Evelyn Felmlee; Dr. Juan and Laura Mari; the Rev. George Johnson and Faith; Harvey and Susan Eger; Jack and Jean Snodgrass; Stu Horner; Irving Bloom; Jim Boswell; Nina Lewis; and quartet manager Dick Fisher with Carole.

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