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


Radio Music Society is another extraordinary chapter in the Esperanza Spalding story. The Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist has performed in Pittsburgh three times over the past two years and has become very popular due to radio airplay and buzz on the street. Her collaborations with her current band as well as Jazz and Pop icons have established Spalding as a trendsetter to be followed for years to come. The astonishing bassist, singer and bandleader talent is indeed someone to hear and see. The audience at the Byham was treated to an ensemble of incredible musicians and music from the soul.  The 2012 Esperanza Spalding Radio Music Society Current Touring Ensemble is: Esperanza Spalding on Double Bass, Electric Bass and Lead Vocal, Leo Genovese on Piano, Rhodes and Keyboards, Jef Lee Johnson on Electric Guitar and Backing Vocals, Lyndon Rochelle on Drums and Backing Vocals, Chris Turner on Lead and Backing Vocals, Renato Caranto on Alto Saxophone, Hailey Niswanger on Alto Saxophone, Aaron Burnett on Tenor Saxophone, Alan Ferber on Trombone, Corey King on Trombone, Igmar Thomas on Trumpet and Leala Cyr on Trumpet and Backing Vocals.

The musical journey for Spalding began in Portland, Oregon. Esperanza was born and raised on what she calls “the other side of the tracks” in a multi-lingual household. Spalding grew up in a single-parent home and learned lessons in the meaning of perseverance and moral character from her mother. Despite great parenting, schooling did not come easy to Spalding. It was not for any lack of intellectual insight. She was both blessed and cursed with a highly instinctive learning style that often put her at odds with the traditional education system. On top of that, she was shut in by a long illness as a child, and as a result, was home-schooled for a considerable portion of her elementary school years. “It was just hard for me to fit into a setting where I was expected to sit in a room and swallow everything that was being fed to me,” she recalls. “Once I figured out what it was like to be home-schooled and basically self-taught, I couldn’t fit back into the traditional environment.” At 15, Spalding left high school for good. Armed with her and aided by a hefty , she enrolled in the music program at Portland State University. “I was definitely the youngest bass player in the program,” she says. “I was 16, and I had been playing the bass for about a year and a half. Most of the cats in the program had already had at least eight years of training under their belts, and I was trying to play in these orchestras and do these Bach cello suites. It wasn’t really flying through the material, but if nothing else, my teachers were saying, ‘Okay, she does have talent.” was the place where the pieces all came together and doors started opening. After a move to the east coast and three years of accelerated study, she not only earned a B.M., but also signed on as an instructor in 2005 at the age of 20. That has made her one of the youngest faculty members in the history of the college. She was also the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship.

The 12 member ensemble performed for the enthusiastic Byham audience several outstanding pieces in an 11 song set which included “Smile Like That’, “I Can’t Help It” by Stevie Wonder, “Hold on Me”, “Cinnamon Tree”, “Crowned & Kissed”, “Endangered Species ”by Wayne Shorter, “Black Gold” and “Radio Song” Sharing her gifts with the world and baring her soul this prodigy blessed with supernatural instrumental chops, a voice that is part angelic and a natural beauty that borders on mesmerizing, Spalding is the hope for the future of jazz and instrumental music.

For more information about Esperanza Spalding go to:


,      Pittsburgh Jazz Music Examiner

With radio experince that has spanned 31 years, Kevin Amos has been on the staffs of WYEP,WDUQ,WCXJ-AM, WJJJ and WPPJ-AM. He's worked as a Host and producer of two current weekly radio programs on WRCT-FM "Ebony Spectrum" and "One To One with Kevin Amos". Amos is also Creator of Pittsburgh Jazz...

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