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

SFJazz kicks new season off with Ahmad Jamal and the promise of a vibrant future

SFJazz kicks new season off with Ahmad Jamal and the promise of a vibrant future 300w, 768w, 799w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /> Ahmad Jamal with Manolo Badrena, Herlin Riley and James Cammack kick off SFJazz’s 2019-20 season.Photo: Scott Chernis

As the new kid on the block, SFJazz does things differently.

Unlike the San Francisco Symphony and Opera nearby in Hayes Valley’s performing arts district celebrating with black-tie galas, SFJazz splits its opening night and gala (set for Jan. 30, honoring Mavis Staples) for a lower key event. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a celebratory air at the nearly 7-year-old SFJazz Center on Thursday, Sept. 5.

There were suits and sparkly tops (no tuxes or gowns here) as about 900 members reunited with their favorite ushers, box office squad and production staff. SFJazz founder and Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline and CEO Donald Derheim were also circulating among the crowd before kicking off SFJazz’s 2019-20 season with members-only concerts by renowned pianist, composer and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal and jazz singer Veronica Swift with Emmet Cohen’s trio.

“One of the themes of the organization is this idea of paying honor to the past, the rich history of jazz, but encouraging it to move forward,” Kline said in his introductory remarks onstage at the packed Robert N. Miner Auditorium. “This week is a great example. Veronica Swift, a great young artist, as well as Emmet, the piano player in that group, pushing forward, as well as the master of masters, Ahmad Jamal.” 300w, 768w, 823w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />
Jazz master Ahmad Jamal was among SFJazz’s 2019-20 season opening-night lineup.Photo: Scott Chernis

Opening with his composition “Without You,” from 1986, Jamal and his group — double bassist James Cammack, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena — swung as an impressively unified unit through all 10 of the concert’s numbers. Jamal’s “One,” from 1979, reminded listeners of the grooving side of his playing, and he briefly quoted Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin’” for good measure.

While Jamal is best known for the elegance of his playing (frequently heard Thursday night in his solo and duo introductory explorations with Cammack) the 89-year-old pianist also demonstrated masterful dynamic control. 300w, 768w, 772w, 700w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />
Ahmad Jamal plays with drummer Herlin Riley.Photo: Scott Chernis

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave” and Jamal’s own “Swahililand,” which he said he reckons is his most sampled work, received rowdy applaud, as did the group’s first encore that showcased Jamal’s signature interpretation of “Poinciana.” The capacity crowd was nearly beside itself when the four concluded with a reconstructed version of another standard, “Blue Moon.”

With Swift’s second show starting at 8:30 p.m., one could catch Jamal’s band and its multiple encores and still sample about 20 minutes of her late set where she was also fronting a quartet, though this one with Cohen, double bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Bryan Carter.

In interpreting Mel Tormé’s lament “A Stranger in Town,” the 25-year-old Charlottesville crooner embodied a pathos twice or even thrice her age. And like Jamal’s slyly referencing famous melodies, Swift made some modern substitutions on Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg’s ice cold mid-1960s anthem “I’m Hip” by effortlessly replacing “French flicks” with “Netflix” and “Bobby Darin” with “Lady Gaga.”

With Jamal representing 70 years of jazz history and Swift showcasing the promising future of jazz, SFJazz’s opening night energized its members for an equally diverse new season.

Views: 110


You need to be a member of Pittsburgh Jazz Network to add comments!

Join Pittsburgh Jazz Network

Comment by Rev. Dr. Bobby Fulton, Ph.D. on September 10, 2019 at 5:12am

We salute Jazzmaster Ahmad Jamal and group !!!

© 2023   Created by Dr. Nelson Harrison.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service