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

Supporters of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture tried a new tactic Friday afternoon, when at a court hearing over the financially beleaguered organization they suggested a new conservator whose approach would be "worlds apart" from what has been done thus far.

Prominent Pittsburgh attorney E.J. Strassburger, who has volunteered to take on the position, said he feels that former U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Judith Fitzgerald used the wrong methods to garner financial support.

"Something has to be done to increase the confidence of the funding community that something is being done to make them succeed," he said.

Mr. Strassburger characterized his approach as "180 degrees different from what has been tried so far."

In September, Dollar Bank started a foreclosure action on the center to recover $7 million owed on the mortgage. It alleged that the center had failed to continue payments for its required insurance and had not made a monthly $53,639 mortgage payment since February.

Ms. Fitzgerald was appointed to serve as a conservator in November, and earlier this week issued a report in which she said there was no possibility of saving the center "as it currently exists."

At Friday's hearing, she said that "not a single person or entity" has come forward with either a plan to save the center or money to help.

Her recommendation is that the center be placed into a liquidating receivership in an attempt to find a buyer for the property.

Judge Lawrence O'Toole, of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, said he will have a decision on the matter Monday.

Ms. Fitzgerald testified about the process she undertook between November and this week in trying to figure out the assets accumulated by the 65,000-square foot center.

"I was point-blank refused by all of the foundations," she said. "Everyone is very supportive. Everyone wants to see the August Wilson Center's mission survive."

"But," she continued, "it can't survive without funds, and it cannot bring in enough revenue to support its own operations, let alone the debt service.

"Everyone has the right words, but no one has put the money behind the words."

Ms. Fitzgerald suggested to Judge O'Toole that there be a bid process, wherein interested parties could submit their highest and best offers.

But Sandra Renwand, from the state attorney general's office, who is there to represent the public interest, suggested that the conservatorship for the center should continue.

"To just shift to liquidation, it's our position ... there are folks out there working diligently to try to help the mission of this center continue," Ms. Renwand said. "If all that is there is someone looking to liquidate and protect the bank's interest, we don't see an effort to pursue the mission.

"The only folks going to benefit from that order is the bank and the conservator."

Ms. Renwand suggested appointing an alternative conservator to further pursue the issues and suggested Mr. Strassburger.

He testified that one of the main flaws in Ms. Fitzgerald's approach was in not having a plan to take to the donors.

"She approached them without a plan," he said. "She said she wanted money to come up with a plan."

Mr. Strassburger said he believed he could use his influence and relationships in the community to build support for the center.

"To close this building because of $7 [million], or $9.5 [million] or $10 million, when you have equity of at least twice that, seems premature and ill-conceived."

His approach, Mr. Strassburger said, would first include hiring an executive director and then appointing an advisory board.

He also suggested that there is a commercial kitchen and space for a restaurant in the center, as well as an outdoor patio that could be used to generate revenue.

When asked by Ms. Fitzgerald's attorney, Beverly Weiss Manne, if he was sure of his success, Mr. Strassburger responded, "I can't guarantee it any more than I can guarantee a client will win."

At the end of the proceeding, several members of the community spoke to Judge O'Toole about the importance of the center.

All of them criticized the speed with which Ms. Fitzgerald did her work.

Paula Reed Ward:, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.

First Published January 24, 2014 6:46 PM

Read more:

Views: 95

© 2020   Created by Dr. Nelson Harrison.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service