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

Dr. Billy Taylor: You Know How It Feels To Be Free

This piece was posted on my friend Dr. Mark Anthony Neal's blog and posted to the Soul Patrol Daily Digest which I receive


Dr. Billy Taylor: You Now Know How It Feels to be Free
by Onaje Allan Gumbs

Dr. Billy Taylor was a mentor and a friend. After listening to him on WLIB radio in New York for years, I met him in person just after I got out of high school in 1967. Although I was shy at the time, I mustered up enough courage to approach him...from then, he musically took me in.

While I was still going to college, on break, I would visit him often on the set of The David Frost Show for which he served as Musical Director. Almost jokingly I told him that I'd love to write something for the band. He told me to come back in a couple of months. I came back and to my surprise, he asked me how soon could I do the arrangement. I wrote an original song called "The Third Wave." Once I delivered the chart, I had to go back up to SUNY-Fredonia. I would watch The David Frost Show religiously but never heard my tune.

When I got back to NY and visited the set, Billy told me that there was a problem with the chart. Wel,l once the problem was fixed, Billy had the band play my song into every commercial break. It was an amazing experience to witness since I had no idea that the band was going to do that.

Billy Taylor was the one that encouraged me to join ASCAP which I still belong to today. I remember him telling me,"You can join BMI or ASCAP, but if you want a career as a composer, you'll join ASCAP."

Jaijai Jackson of The Jazz Network Worldwide, a few days ago, put together a profile feature on me at her site. To my surprise, she found, among other photographs, a photo of Billy and myself. I cried when I saw it, thinking back on all he had done for me. It wasn't 48 hours later when I found out Billy had made his transition.

Dr. Billy Taylor was a champion for the importance of the Legacy of Jazz, being the founder of Jazzmobile in New York in the 60's. He was a champion for young people (I remember at a conference years ago, Billy showed me a rap that he had written for a youth symposium he was going to conduct). Through his music, he was also a social activist. His enduring composition,"I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free," became one of the anthems of the Civil Rights Movement.

Billy Taylor was someone you could always walk up to and say hello or engage in a conversation. Always with that youthful voice and big smile, you knew when you were with Dr. Billy Taylor, everything was alright.

Abientot Billy. You now know how it feels to be free.


Pianist/keyboardist/producer/arranger/songwriter Onaje Allan Gumbs (pronounced Oh-Nah-Jay) is one of the music industry's most respected and talented music collaborators. Gumbs has worked almost three decades with top talent in the musical fields of jazz, R&B/soul, and pop to hone his considerable skills. A partial list includes Woody Shaw, Nat Adderly, Norman Connors, Angela Bofill, Jean Carn, Cassandra Wilson, Marlena Shaw, Sadao Watanabe, Phyllis Hyman ("The Answer Is You" from his 1979 Somewhere in My Lifetime album), Stanley Jordan, Denise Williams, Vanessa Rubin, Jeffrey Osborne, Eddie Murphy, Rebbie Jackson, and Gerald Albright (Live at Birdland West). His most recent project is Just Like Yesterday.

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