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
While I've only been at this promoting business for a short time (compared to most of you musicians out there), one conversation that continues to surface is the $money$ talk. One thing I've definitely picked up on is.....YOU ARE UNDER PAID AND UNDER APPRECIATED BY VENUE OWNERS! Ok, now that i've gotten that off my chest....I'm wondering if we can open a dialogue on this issue. I don't really have answers, but wonder how others feel about this topic and if they have any answers to share with the network. Support feels like the key word:

1. Support one anothers' gigs.
Yes, this network is an awesome outlet and resource for promoting your events in the aim to get an audience, support and notoriety, but shouldn't it also be about seeking fellow musicians' gigs that you could attend on some lonely Wed, Fri, Sun, Any night out? Let me answer that: YES. If you do not show up at anyone else's thing, can you really expect people to be there at yours? Let me answer that: NO. "Musicians of the 'Burgh....UNITE." Make one night a month your travel night! JUST DO IT. I know a lot of people do this already, but....

2. Support your worth.
Having worked as a freelance writer in this town for(ever) a while, i'm intimately familiar with the idea of under paid/appreciated; therefore, i feel your pain. But more importantly, i encourage you to stick to your ground and hold out for your worth from cheap club owners (in my case...editors). I'm not exactly sure how to make that happen, universally, other than a coup: all musicians refuse to play for less and then venues will have to pay? Crazy, huh? Club owners like to dangle that "draw carrot".....if you bring me 20 people, I'll pay you $200. If you bring 30, $300, etc etc etc blah blah blah. Can this stop??

3. Support the Pittsburgh Live Music/Jazzburgher networks.
Again, while this is a great resource, it's only as good as you make it. Tell your friends, colleagues, band members, live music people, local saloons, club owners, guitar stores, etc. The more people we get hooked into this network the more power we create in an aim to network and reach as many people as possible. Friends let friends network : )

4. Support BANDS!
This one is for club owners out there....heed above advice.

In each other!

Promoters are also helpful, but they, like quality musicians (PLM members), seem to be scarce. Seek them out, though, as they can be quite beneficial as a bridge between the artist and venue.

P.S. all of the above is purely the rant of a passionate enthusiast/promoter/wanna-be-musician!


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Comment by Ed Skirtich on November 22, 2009 at 5:13am
Dear jd,

That is a wonderful piece you have written.

I totally agree with what you've written.

Especially the part about how we need to attend each others gigs.

I attend and support a lot of the local Pittsburgh jazz musicians in the clubs, and that same respect should be returned when I play gigs or if I'm the bandleader, side man, or Artistic Director of Jazz Workshop, Inc.

I do notice that we all put our ad up on the PJN on where we're gigging and maybe we're lucky if a half-dozen people respond.

And yes- about the clubs- It needs to be about what are musical backgrounds are, and not on this nonsense of "Do you have a following?"

And yeah- Club owners need to pay the musicians a good salary.

And yeah- The Club owners need to promote their club and the entertainment of their club much, much better.

I hope and pray some day the gig circuit will return to these questions: Can you play? Are you a professional musician? What is your musical background?

And not : "Do you have a following?"

Ed Skirtich
(412) 422- 4149 (H)
(412) 841-8046 (C)

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