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

As a Big Fan of Jazz, I just want you to know how much your audience appreciates your talents as do I. It is however disheartening ,when the audience is not acknowledged during a performance. I have recently attended a performance, where the musicians talk among themselves in between songs and yawn during their performance. I, as an appreciative fan, make an effort to support your love of this awesome music and just want to be shown a little respect in return. Please address your audience during your performance. Please support your audience as we support you. This is certainly not meant for all musicians, just those who need to be aware. Thank you for all you do for Jazz.

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on November 16, 2012 at 10:37pm

Just a comment on Brian's reference to Miles.  Yes, he was indeed cool and a delight to see and hear. I recall an explanation he gave once about his back to the audience.  He said he thought the idea of having to face and play into a microphone was very restrictive and he was glad when the condenser mic was invented so he could interact with his musicians more freely without losing the presence of his own sound just as guitar players had been free to do long before horn players could do it.  Also he mentioned that he was just directing his band like any symphonic conductor would do and their backs were always to the audience without people thinking it was rude.  Cool as he was, Miles never ignored his audiences and always acknowledged their presence during his performances.

Comment by Roberta Windle on November 16, 2012 at 8:26pm


I totally agree with the fact that Pgh audiences are exceptionally loud during a performance. Perhaps, if addressed prior to the performance , people will be more aware of their behavior. Listening is why we should be there in the first place. People talking during a performance should be low keyed so that those there to listen, can hear the performance. Thank you so much for bringing this matter to light.


Comment by The Brian Edwards Excursion on November 16, 2012 at 2:56pm

I have read some of the comments posted on this subject. First of all I can appreciate the posting by Roberta and can understand her perspective. We as musicians do need the audience and should make the audience feel apart of the experience but we also need the audience to listen. While I understand her point , I must say from my perspective, the audiences here in Pittsburgh for the most part talk while the musicians are playing and in some cases louder than the band. Although there may be discerning music listeners in the are surrounded by folks who think it's cool to come to a place to HEAR music and EXPERIENCE the musicians playing their hearts out but would rather TALK, BE HEARD, AND BE SEEN.  If the music or the musicians are too heavey for people to listen to and not talk over I suggest  some spot on the south side to hang.  I remember playing Wembley Arena in front of 15,000 people and you could hear a pin drop when we were playing because the people were trying to get it all. I am a born drummer who values the audience and I give my all to you folks everytime I sit behind a set of drums and nor am I afraid to speak to you from the stage or or anywhere we may be;But honestly who wants to acknowledge a crowd that has competed for the spot light by talking all night? As far Ralph's comment?, I was playing in town with my band and we were doing original material I wrote and we and the songs were well received, but then you have these people who want you play the same stuff that someone else on the other side of town is playing, " I just came from seeing so and so and they played blue bossa,  can you do play it for me?" This is a jazz town that doesn't embrace ALL Expressions of jazz music. People here are traditionalist and so therefore you will always hear nothing but standards which means 300 jazz musicians playing the same 100 songs. I would also like to address Nelson's comment about today's musician's. Today's jazz musicians, as Nelson put it, has learned it's musical bad habits from the old masters themselves. Anyone who PAID and saw Miles play saw his back most of the show but people excepted what was basically rude behavior as cool because it was miles. You might not be able to teach an old dog a new trick but the old dogs can teach the new dogs to do better.  I am a drummer, musician, AND entertainer and I approve this comment.

Comment by Ralph Lamar Smith on November 15, 2012 at 9:39pm

Musicians are not a monolithic group. In 40 years of listening, I have never heard a tune dedicated to the audience or a tune entitled the fan / my audience. I dont go out to be recognized, I just want to hear the music. My problem is.....I want to hear fresh music, new tunes.....good or bad LOL. I dont understand how people are so talented and dont create? I know it may take rehearsal time, which is another issue. But the music is just dispenced to the audience. No mistake the talent is great..... but its like drinking congac out of a paper cup when musicans dont compete to create new songs....just solo`s. Maybe that reflects the teaching. Which is another issue. It reminds me of my feelings of police work, you can get all the training and ride in the car but if your are not a good, fair and decent non bias person.......WHAT ARE YOU REALLY? Back to music, i guess you cant teach feel and soul......elements that dont keep one locked into only what is taught! SOME CAN PLAY MUSIC and a few are musicans. Thats my audience perspective and opinion and not a fact folks. Not complaining....just explaining.


Comment by Max Leake on November 14, 2012 at 2:49pm

Not to make excuses for musicians, but just to shed some light from my perspective: Some musicians are terrified of speaking on a microphone and are never taught how to do anything other than play their instrument. This seems counter-intuitive since we get up in front of sometimes really large audiences and play without a 2nd thought. I know for myself, that I am still uncomfortable with speaking before audiences, even after doing it for many years. This is not an excuse, and it is something I wish I would have worked on more when I was young. I would encourage young players to find a way to get over that anxiety. I would hope that the musicians that Roberta witnessed yawning and talking between tunes weren't trying to be disrespectful and instead just were not thinking about the effect that this has on the audience. There are times that we get excited about a certain song that we play and we start talking about recordings that we listen to and end up leaving the audience out there wondering what in the hell we are talking about. As Nelson said, musicians do forget sometimes that we are in the entertainment business. Roberta, thanks for your insight.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on November 14, 2012 at 2:28am

We thank the member for expressing her feelngs so respectfully and sincerely. Many of today's musicians fail to realize what business they are in,  so they omit elements of expression that would encourage a greater audience.  When we perform live, we are in the "entertainment" business.  When in the studio, classroom or practice room, we could say it is the music business but not the concert hall or night club.  Making the connection with the audience is far more important than how many 16th notes you can play.  If the musician is not enjoying their own performance, the audience certainly will not and may not stay or at least go home disappointed as the blogger candidly indicated.  I certainly feel the same when in the audience and have walked out on some pretty big name musicians vowing never to give them any of my time or money again.  How do you feel about this issue?  I'll be interested to read and share your responses.

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