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
I just recieved word of the transition of Pittsburgh saxophonist Kenny 'Fish' Fisher. I have known fish for over thirty years, meeting him as a child taking lessons at the Homewood-Brushton Jazz Workshop. I later studied with him as he gave improvisation lessons at the Homewood Carnegie Library.

Fish was an excellent player, respected and liked by everyone. As a young man he got to practice with John Coltrane while he was in Pittsburgh on a date at the Crawford Grill. He was also a contemporary of one of my heroes, the great Billy Harper.

Fish would often come out to support me when I played in Pittsburgh. I was home last weekend, and I learned he was in ICU. He was a large part of the Pittsburgh Jazz legacy and will be truly missed.

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Comment by Ed Skirtich on October 29, 2009 at 5:24am
Dear TLed and Emmett,

Thank you for the warm, kind words and tributes to Kenny Fisher!

Kenny Fisher was my dear friend and colleague at The Jazz Workshop, Inc.

I remember and will never forget the first day I met "Fish" at the JWS.

Kenny got up and gave me a seat and had me jammin' with the band from August of 1993 on.

Man, Kenny showed me stuff about jazz improvisation that I would've never have known from a book or even a college jazz class.

Kenny was a genius as far as teaching jazz improv.

And he always, always was very, very, generous in letting us have the spotlight when it was showtime.

Man, Kenny had this young girl Sarafina playin' Monk and Trane on the violin and Wow! Kenny really had her jammin'! She did so well she was sittin' in with the pros!

Unfortunately, I only knew Kenny when his health went into decline.

From what I understand Kenny hung with all the cats and jazz legends who came through the Crawford Grill and the places in the Hill.

Kenny was so loved and well respected.

The funny story I have on Kenny Fisher was that when I first met Fish 16 years ago Hosea Taylor was really jammin' and then Fish pointed his thumb at me to play and I played pretty good but boy I was I scared- But Kenny was always behind me and always let me shine in the spotlight.

If you all along wih the entire Pittsburgh Jazz Network find out any info on Kenny please let us know ASAP- And I wouldn't mind possibly doing something special for Fish at the Jazz Workshop, Inc. at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Homewood (I gotta talk and get approval from Harold Young, Sr. first, though and see what his ideas and suggestions are.)

Also, you all welcome to call or email me if you need any support on Kenny's entrance into "The Eternal Jam Session."

Rest In Peace Fish- And I'll to make sure all of us at Jazz Workshop, Inc. "Keep Our Reeds Wet!"

Ed Skirtich
Artistic Director/Jazz Workshop, Inc.
(412) 422-4149 (H)
(412) 841-8046 (C)
Comment by Emmett Goods on October 29, 2009 at 1:27am
Fish, touched so many of us. Like you he came into my life at a very young age (9 years old) and never stopped supporting my musical pursuits. I've never met a musician with such a warm loving spirit. I will truely miss his warm tenor sound and beautiful solos. God Bless You Fish, I miss you already.

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