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



There is a dearth of oral history available documenting the greatness of the Pittsburgh Jazz Tradition and Legacy.. Please feel free to add a quote of your own or words of wisdom or humor from a Pittsburgh artist that you may find of interest.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Members: 79
Latest Activity: Jun 20, 2023

I don't need time. What I need is a deadline. -Duke Ellington, jazz pianist, composer, and conductor (1899-1974)

Discussion Forum

"No One Could Tell You How To Play"

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Nov 15, 2018. 0 Replies

Ellis Marsalis Interview - 2002: Part Six

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 15, 2017. 0 Replies

Ellis Marsalis Interview - 2002: Part Five

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 15, 2017. 0 Replies

Comment Wall


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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 20, 2023 at 8:41pm

"Music is God's Voice." ---Brian Wilson

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 11, 2022 at 11:13pm

Music is the language of the spirit.
It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.

– Kahlil Gibran
Comment by Rev. Dr. Bobby Fulton, Ph.D. on July 26, 2022 at 5:57pm


Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on July 25, 2022 at 8:32pm

“There’s a lot of ways to be a typewriter,” because a lot of people chase chord changes. But harmony and chord changes are just there as collateral. They tell you what group of notes might be valid for the moment, but they don’t tell you what’s the best note for the moment. Your eyes can tell you right notes if you know harmony, but your ears — if you got some — will tell you the best notes out of the many right notes. It’s up to the melodic ear to eke out the greatest four or five notes for the moment. That’s when the phrasing and rhythm comes in.

And this is one of things that the younger children of the bebop guys did not really understand from the real founding fathers of bebop. The younger players could get wrapped up in treating complex chord changes as the greatest thing of all. You gotta realize that the founding fathers of bebop — Bird, Dizzy, Monk, and the rest of those guys — they basically were just the younger swing musicians. They’re just the younger guard, they’re just a little bit younger than Harry Edison or Lester Young. Kenny Clarke is just a couple of years younger than Papa Jo Jones. They got all of the lessons from the great swing players, and the greatest of them were virtuosos. People like Don Byas, man, come on! Harmonically Don Byas is off the charts. The younger guys learned everything from people like Lester Young and Don Byas and had their own natural talent, and that’s how you get a Bird or a Dizzy. But Bird and Dizzy played so well and so correctly that it was very easy for the younger players to start treating chord changes as the greatest thing of all. There’s a danger there because chords are not the “reason why.” Chords shouldn’t be the jumpstart of your creation. Your jumpstart of creation is your melodic ear and rhythm.

The chords are there, they’re like parts of speech. Nouns, verbs, prepositional phrases, adverb phrases: they’re meaningless on their own, but they’re there to create sentences, paragraphs and stories. But parts of speech are not the reason for your creation. When you get ready to speak your thoughts and express your feelings, you’re not saying, well now let me use a noun or a verb or an adverb.

It’s the same when you play an A minor seven. An A minor seven has no dignity unto itself. It just is what it is. The A minor seven is just acting as part of speech, helping you express your emotion. A lot of the players after bebop on became top heavy with the harmony. Now we have a bunch of players who will basically chase chord changes, that’s all it is. If they’re grammatically correct, they think they’re great, you know? And that’s part of it, of course. At least you’re in the ballpark if you outline the changes. But that ain’t the main event!”

---Charles McPherso

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 10, 2021 at 3:12am

For so many amateur musicians, the pattern of criticism and the hierarchical relationship of the teacher-pupil relationship can be crushing. The student becomes disengaged from music but more importantly from themselves. I’m reminded here of Joni Mitchell’s experience of piano lessons. In a New York Times article, Lindsay Zoladz recalls Mitchell saying: ‘I played … for my piano teacher, who slapped me across the wrist with a ruler for playing by ear … she said: “Why would you play by ear when you have the masters under your fingers?”’ The young Mitchell (then Joan Anderson) replies: ‘Well, the masters had to play by ear to come up with that stuff.’ That was her last piano lesson.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 3, 2021 at 1:49am

"Pure genius #Jazz is manifested when he & the orchestra runaround the room screaming." - Charles Mingus

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on May 24, 2021 at 2:05am

♪♫ "Good #Jazz is when the leader jumps on the #piano, waves his arms & yells. Fine Jazz is when a tenorman lifts his foot in the air. Great Jazz is when he heaves a piercing note for 32 bars & collapses on his hands & knees." - Charles Mingus

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 12, 2020 at 4:25pm

[New York drum teacher] Charlie Perry pointed that out. When you see yourself doing the act and your brainwaves send out a signal to that part of your body. You don’t actually follow through with it, but the message is sent there already. So it’s already programmed. So when you actually sit down at the instrument you’ll find that you can play it — once you develop a certain amount of dexterity and proficiency on the instrument.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 12, 2020 at 4:24pm

Charles McPherson: “If you’re going to be a musician, you must not have any mental blocks. We, as musicians, can’t afford not to hear those who came before us. A layman, on the other hand, can listen to whatever makes him feel good, because he is not as wholly involved as the musician.

A musician should go as far back in his listening as he possibly can, ignoring all the little segregated categories that the writers and critics like to put music into. A musician’s scope should be wide; he does not have the layman’s privilege to be narrow. That is, if he wants to be great, if he really wants to become an artist.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 8, 2020 at 10:01pm

In his biography of Sugar Ray Robinson, Will Haygood said Miles, who idolized Sugar Ray, came to Pittsburgh for Sugar's last pro fight in 1965, and, along with everybody else, told Sugar he should retire for good. Sugar did.  


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