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


June 30, 2009
Television Review | 'Nova: Musical Minds'


“Musical Minds,” the season premiere of “Nova” on PBS, is based on the neurologist Oliver Sacks’s most recent book, “Musicophilia,” a collection of case studies of people whose brains have unusual relationships to music, cases in which, as Dr. Sacks puts it, “music gets them going to an extraordinary degree.” A one-hour program can’t approach the depth and texture of Dr. Sacks’s book, but it does get at one question that nags the reader: What do these musical savants sound like? Or put another way: Are they really as amazing as they’re cracked up to be?

Music isn’t my area, so I’m not going to hazard an answer other than to say that Derek Paravicini, an autistic and blind 29-year-old who is described as an “astonishingly, almost bafflingly brilliant pianist,” and Tony Cicoria, an orthopedic surgeon who began playing classical piano and composing after being struck by lightning, would be awfully impressive at your next party.

“Musical Minds,” which with the season premiere of the newsmagazine “Nova ScienceNow” is inaugurating a Tuesday-night science block for PBS, looks at four cases. In addition to Mr. Paravicini and Mr. Cicoria, a third exceptional performer, Matt Giordano, uses drumming to help control his Tourette’s syndrome.

Anne Barker, however, sits at the opposite extreme: she suffers from amusia, an inability to hear or respond to music. The narrator, the BBC reporter Alan Yentob, mentions that Ms. Barker has the condition despite the fact that her parents own a store specializing in traditional Irish instruments. Viewers are free to draw their own conclusions about cause and effect.

(Those who follow Dr. Sacks’s dispatches in The New Yorker will be disappointed to hear that no mention is made of Clive Wearing, the British musician whose profound amnesia was the subject of a heartbreaking excerpt from “Musicophilia” in that magazine in 2007.)

Dr. Sacks’s trademarks as a writer are evocative storytelling and, just as important, a deep compassion for subjects coping with both the practical difficulties and the alienation caused by brain disorders. When those subjects are packed into 10-minute television profiles, an air of the carnival sideshow can set in, and “Musical Minds” is not immune to this, particularly in its depiction of Mr. Paravicini. His autism has caused speech patterns like those of a particularly loud talk-show host (an impression reinforced by his physical resemblance to the ubiquitous British presenter Graham Norton), and his hands, while striking the keys with impressive speed and precision, have a suspended look, as if attached to a marionette. Unfortunately, those are the impressions a viewer is likely to be left with.

The best moments in “Musical Minds” tend to involve the program’s fifth subject: Dr. Sacks, who not only is interviewed by Mr. Yentob but also enthusiastically submits to having his own brain tested. These scenes are diverting, if not revealing.

In one Dr. Sacks is scanned while listening to his professed favorite, Bach, and then to Beethoven. A Columbia University researcher shows him the scans: many more areas of his brain light up during the Bach, which proves that he indeed prefers the Baroque master to the Classical firebrand. But does it? As the program acknowledges, science still has little idea what those red and green flashes on the M.R.I. screen really mean.

Which, in the meantime, makes Dr. Sacks’s work documenting the strange adaptations of our brains all the more valuable and mysterious. “Musical Minds” may barely scratch the surface, but it’s still full of fascinating information. Like this: Mr. Paravicini and Mr. Giordano each first demonstrated his unusual musical abilities at 2 — one by playing “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” on the piano, and one by playing “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)” on the drums. There’s a dissertation right there.


Musical Minds

On most PBS stations on Tuesday night (check local listings).

Produced for PBS by the WGBH Science Unit. Paula S. Apsell, director of the WGBH Science Unit and senior executive producer of Nova; Janet Lee and Alan Yentob, executive producers for the BBC; Louise Lockwood, producer; Ryan Murdock, producer for Nova; narrated and presented by Mr. Yentob.

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Comment by Bettoman on June 30, 2009 at 9:45pm
* After reading this article for the science, go to Dr, Nelson Harrison's video page on this network for the Metaphysics of Music.

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