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

JazzTimes 10: Essential Erroll Garner Recordings

JazzTimes 10: Essential Erroll Garner Recordings

Celebrating the piano master's centennial in audio

Erroll Garner

In June, the centennial of pianist Erroll Garner came and went with unfortunately little fanfare. And yet during his lifetime—he died in 1977, at the age of 55—the public perceived Garner as being behind only Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington in embodying the jazz tradition. Part of that was simple showmanship: a diminutive man, Garner pointedly sat on a Manhattan phone book during his performances, to the delight of his onlookers. His style was also a flamboyant one, with a robust, orchestral approach that used the entire piano and a signature rhythmic feel that fell between bebop and swing. He was a favorite on television and radio, a jazz celebrity.

Garner is far from forgotten, of course. His most famous album, 1955’s Concert by the Sea, remains a tentpole in the jazz canon; ditto his composition “Misty”; and a newly discovered Dutch live date, Nightconcert, was released in 2018 by Mack Avenue, which also reissued a dozen of his ’60s and ’70s albums in the lead-up to his hundredth birthday. Those albums (originally issued on his own Octave imprint), along with a previously unreleased 1959 live date at Boston’s Symphony Hall, will be part of a deluxe box set called Liberation in Swing: The Centennial Collection, out Sept. 17.

Even so, we’d argue that Garner deserves more attention than he’s gotten recently. Let’s give this jazz immortal the celebration he is due.

1. Erroll Garner: “All the Things You Are, Parts 1 & 2” (The Chronological Classics: 1944; Classics, 1995 [originally recorded Dec. 14, 1944])

1. Erroll Garner: “All the Things You Are, Parts 1 & 2” (<i>The Chronological Classics: 1944</i>; Classics, 1995 [originally recorded Dec. 14, 1944])

Garner’s recording career began in a Manhattan apartment. Its tenant was the Danish baron Timme Rosenkrantz, who recorded a series of piano solos. The informality of the sessions gave Garner room to stretch beyond the three-minute limit of the era’s records, and he makes his improvised introduction to this standard into a moody meditation. Once he begins playing (or chording, to be more precise) the melody, all of his colossal luster comes into view. So does some of the most joyful, bouncy swing you’ve ever heard, a neat counterpoint to the introspection he begins (and ends) the tune with. Indeed, the length of the performance lets Garner pack in all of the scene changes and story arc of an opera. At 23, he was already a titan.

Listen to a Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs in this JazzTimes 10:

Volume 0%



Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.

Views: 3


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