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
New York Times

Ray Bryant, Jazz Pianist, Dies at 79
Published: June 3, 2011
Ray Bryant, a jazz pianist whose sensitivity and easy authority made him a busy accompanist and a successful solo artist, beginning in the mid-1950s, died on Thursday 6/2/2011. He was 79.
His wife of 20 years, Claude Bryant, said he died at New York Hospital Queens after a long illness. He lived in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Mr. Bryant had a firm touch and an unshakable sense of time, notably in his left hand, which he often used to build a bedrock vamp. Even in a bebop setting, he favored the ringing tonalities of the gospel church. And he was sumptuously at home with the blues, as a style and a sensibility but never as an affectation.
All of this contributed to his accomplishment as a solo pianist. His first solo piano album was “Alone With the Blues,” in 1958, and he went on to make a handful of others, including “Alone at Montreux,” “Solo Flight” and “Montreux ’77.” His most recent release, “In the Back Room,” was yet another solo album, recorded live at Rutgers University and released on the Evening Star label in 2008.
Raphael Homer Bryant was born on Dec. 24, 1931, in Philadelphia, and made his name in that city during its considerable postwar jazz boom. Along with his brother, Tommy, a bassist, he played in the house band at the Blue Note Club in Philadelphia, which had a steady flow of major talent dropping in from New York. (Charlie Parker and Miles Davis were among the musicians they played with there.) In short order Mr. Bryant had plenty of prominent sideman work, both with and without his brother.
One early measure of his ascent was the album “Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant,” released on Columbia in 1955. It was a splashy introduction for him as well as for Ms. Carter, the imposingly gifted jazz singer. It was soon followed by “The Ray Bryant Trio” (Prestige), an accomplished album that introduced Mr. Bryant’s composition “Blues Changes,” with its distinctive chord progression.
That song would become a staple of the jazz literature, if less of a proven standard than “Cubano Chant,” the sprightly Afro-Cuban fanfare that Mr. Bryant recorded under his own name and in bands led by the drummers Art Blakey, Art Taylor and Jo Jones.
Mr. Bryant had several hit songs early in his solo career, beginning with “Little Susie,” an original blues that he recorded both for the Signature label and for Columbia. In 1960 he reached No. 30 on the Billboard chart with a novelty song called “The Madison Time,” rushed into production to capitalize on a dance craze. (The song has had a durable afterlife, appearing on the soundtrack to the 1988 movie “Hairspray,” and in the recent Broadway musical production.) He later broke into the Top 100 with a cover of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” released just a few months after the original, in 1967.
But Mr. Bryant’s legacy never rested on his chart success or his nimble response to popular trends. It can be discerned throughout his own discography and in some of his work as a sideman, notably with the singers Carmen McRae and Jimmy Rushing, and on albums like Dizzy Gillespie’s “Sonny Side Up,” on Verve. “After Hours,” a track on that album, begins with Mr. Bryant and his brother playing a textbook slow-drag blues.
Along with his wife, Mr. Bryant is survived by a son, Raphael Bryant Jr.; a daughter, Gina; three grandchildren; and two brothers, Leonard and Lynwood. Mr. Bryant’s sister, Vera Eubanks, is the mother of several prominent jazz musicians: Robin Eubanks, a trombonist; Kevin Eubanks, the guitarist and former bandleader on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno”; and Duane Eubanks, a trumpeter.

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 7, 2011 at 3:37am
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 7, 2011 at 3:21am

From Member Rebecca Taksel:

Through Dr. Nelson Harrison and the Pittsburgh Jazz Network I learned that the marvelous pianist Ray Bryant died a couple of days ago. I was privileged not only to listen to his music on records but to meet him in my own home! My dad, a dedicated jazz fan, invited Mr. Bryant for one of my mum's delicious dinners. The piano was right near the dining table, and this world-class musician not only played for our family but attempted to give me a lesson in improvisation! I was around 20 years old, and though I was a know-it-all college student, I didn't even PRETEND I could do what he was so graciously and kindly trying to show me. A memorable, wonderful evening with a great man.

Comment by Anthony (Tony) Janflone on June 5, 2011 at 7:00pm

R.I.P Mr. Bryant. Your work was brilliant but that part is complete. Now you have passed into the Eternal part. Condolences to the Bryant family. God bless you continually.

With sincere humbleness,


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