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

The other day Nelson Harrison and I were talking about the state of Jazz music generally. We agreed on many things including the fact that jazz listening and buying is on a decline and has been for many years. Here are some of the reasons that I believe this is so; the neighborhoods that housed the great jazz joints no longer exist like they used to prior to the riots in the 60's, the record labels that focused on jazz no longer exist (Prestige, Riverside, Pacific jazz, Fantasy, etc.), the radio play is slim or none in many markets, the great originators have passed on, people didn't teach the younger folks why so and so was famous, the importance of the artists and the music was never explained in a way that young folks could learn, musicians now learn to play at schools instead of clubs, juke boxes are a thing of the past, liner notes and that tell the story of the artist or the session are gone. I could go on for a while longer but what's the point.
The question I want an answer to is "what can we who love and play and sell this music do about it". I'm not interested in a walk down memory lane since no amount of reminiscing can bring back 1959. Those of you who have the resources, time, passion and willingness can surely solve the dilemma.

---Travis Klein

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Replies to This Discussion


My thoughts.....Music schools graduate musicians who have no audience. Education and listening exposure is the solution for developing that new audience. Unfortunately, arts programs are at best dormant and jazz appreciation is virtually non-existent. 

  • As a starter - Louis Armstrong's "Satchmo" should be required reading in all middle schools. It is a story of motivation coupled with insight into American history.
  • Jazz history is a pathway that can most completely tell the story of American history. Jean Baptiste Le Moyne's recognition of slave customs overtly displayed at Congo Square; Plessy, Jim Crow and the Great Migration can all be taught within a jazz history context.
  • If arts appreciation is to be taught in schools, the first choice should be the music America gave the world. Armstrong, Bechet, Redman, Ellington, et al should be household names. Instead, Billie Holiday has been has been referred to as "him" by uninitiated jazz students. (True!)
  • Finally.......The younger crew may have access to a vast directory of data (ITunes, etc), but knowledge about the data is sparse.  Access to a gazillion songs becomes meaningless if a Miles Davis search turns up as "Miles Davis" whether  it is his record date or Charlie Parker's and Birth of the Cool and Walkin have no differentiation.

Education is the key and the first step by school districts and universities is acknowledgment!

My question is "what can we Pittsburghers do to expose the 50's to 60's jazz to those who will surely appreciate it?


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