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



As our musical icons are graduating into the higher realms we want to keep them fresh in our memories.  Please join this group where you can post any obituaries of the ancestors of our tradition for all to read and learn more about them.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Members: 101
Latest Activity: Feb 10


Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides. Lao Tzu

O Death, Thou shalt not
Break my pride!
As thou art fame to do
With thy icy hands
As I am living here
With all my awakened soul
Being not connected 
To the worldly greed
I have my feet
Measured into three steps
Permanent ground 
For my celestial grave
To whom shalt thou 
Mitigate even an inch?
The space where my tombstone
Wilt be eracted with pride
Though all thy world
Whose senses work under limit
Of time and space
Feels jealous of my lot
O Death, Thou shalt greet me
As a military troop to their leader
Laughing under suppressed voice
At my crowded depature


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling! And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity...of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.


yes, You...
this part of myself
that i lost with your death.
an ever wailing in my heart
and an ever rejoicing in your freed-OM.
no whispers or glaring sounds can fill. yes...
i continue to learn in your absence...
a fullness of Spirit informs me.
today, the Ancestral realm is singing.
and i, both witness and altar boy
stand in awe and in wonderment;
the exquisite dance of sounds and lights
raining down through and upon me.
and, i bathe in this holiness
where tears wash this
heart and my soul.

---Vandorn  Hinnant

Discussion Forum

Geri Allen, Brilliantly Expressive Pianist, Composer and Educator, Dies at 60

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Dr. Nelson Harrison Feb 7. 48 Replies

Geri Allen, Brilliantly Expressive Pianist, Composer and Educator, Dies at 60By David R. Adler • 4 hours ago…Continue

Tags: Detroit, piano, mary, lou, #JazzHubsPGH

Hugh Masekela, Trumpeter and Anti-Apartheid Activist, Dies at 78

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Feb 7. 0 Replies

By GIOVANNI RUSSONELLOJAN. 23, 2018 PhotoHugh Masekela performing “Songs of Migration” in…Continue

Tags: pitts, africa, burgh, jazz, network

William Hughes, trombonist with Count Basie Orchestra, dies at 87

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Michele Bensen Jan 26. 2 Replies

William Hughes, trombonist with Count Basie Orchestra, dies at 87Updated Jan 23, 6:10 PM; Posted Jan 23, 6:05 PMWilliam Hughes, 87, retired Trombonist for the Count Basie Orchestra.(Jan SommarBy…Continue

Tags: basie, count, orchestra, bass, leader

Pianist Chris Pangikas passes after a long illness.

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 13. 3 Replies


Tags: jazz, piano, network, pittsburgh, home

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of OBITUARIES to add comments!

Comment by Bob Garvin on January 8, 2018 at 5:20pm

When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 51 years. I'm glad that I'm merely a rabid jazz fan, not a musician, so no one will be reading my obituary here.

Comment by Melissa Jones on August 26, 2016 at 2:08am

We, sadly, lost renowned audio engineer, Rudy Van Gelder, today, 8/25/2016

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 7, 2016 at 4:37am

Comment by Dan Wasson on March 31, 2016 at 11:47pm
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 28, 2016 at 11:47pm

Wow, I just saw Frank Greenlee's fb post about drummer Joe Harris passing this morning.    So very sad.   I am so glad that we kept in touch all these years.  Joe treated me like a son and would often come to see my group perform at various art festivals in Pittsburgh. See attached pic of Joe and I performing at the Mellon Jazz Festival.  I spoke to Joe a few months ago and one of the stories he shared with me was about his trip to Cuba with Dizzy Gillespie back in the day.  Joe said they were suppose to have a drum kit setup for him, however, when he got to Cuba, they only had congas, etc., set up for him.  My wife and I send our condolences to Joe's family.

Comment by Don Cerminara on October 28, 2015 at 11:53pm

What a loss!!  I've been in contact with Mark Murphy for the last year or so.  He's been living at the Actors Studio (Home for Show Biz) in New Jersey.  As time went on, one could see that Mark was failing.  Just a couple days ago,  on a call to the actors Home, I was advised Mark had passed away....He wont be easy to replace...there was only one!  The people at the Home couldn't give me any details but, Im in contact with the family and expect to hear from them in due course.

  I met Mark right here in Pgh at Hyholde House...where he was working.   I'd heard and seen him the previous year...but not so "up close".  I made it my business to meet him personally..and have him to my residence.  What a guy...what a vocalist.  Just a gorgeous vibrato and a great resonance...and his handling of a lyric...just so distinct and fraught with emotion (when called for).  I've never heard anyone...interpret a tune like Mark.  He took chances I'd never heard seemed so struggle whatsoever!

  Subsequently, I heard him in person in New York and Syracuse (he came from Malone..a suburb of Syracuse). 

    Truly..I've never heard his equal.  Not commercially successful..but that's the life of most..who are intimately identified with jazz.  A great loss.  I'll report further, as I hear from the family

         Don Cerminara

Comment by Melissa Jones on September 30, 2015 at 2:00am
9/29/2015: We lost Phil Woods today.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 14, 2015 at 9:59pm


Those were precious times and your memories are golden.  I'm sure there are many members who are reveling in them as am I.  Thank you.

Comment by Shawn Cohen on September 14, 2015 at 6:09pm

Harold Betters always played in the Shadyside Encore while I was there and then he left for a while. I remember his brother Jerry getting up and singing too and that was always something to witness. The crowd loved Harold and his band and Jerry Betters too. Kenny Karsh is such a talented young man and he was still underage when he came to play at the Encore. In fact, his mother (I was best friends with his older sister Roberta) asked me to look out for Kenny because, well, the Encore in Shadyside was no place for a young impressionable teen! I did and he was excellent and the crowd also loved Kenny! All part of my memories of the Encore. Harold always played Satin Doll when the end of the evening came and I knew then to call, "Last Call for Alcohol" for my tables then...that song will always remind me of Harold and the Encore because of that! Harold is still going strong and his daughter and her son are also my friends now. They are a lovely family with very talented generations. 

Comment by Shawn Cohen on September 14, 2015 at 6:00pm

Hi Dr. Nelson,  would be delighted to share those memories here. I was referencing Michele and I connecting on FB just yesterday. If I think back, there was always a line out the door when big acts came to the Encore downtown. I am speaking of people like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespe. It was my job as a waitress to make sure all the tables were served well, keep their libations flowing and not have Art or Bobby give me a talking to because I missed someone or the food in the kitchen was waiting for me! I wore high heels as this was all part of the penguin suit back then and I have walked a million waitress miles in them with the feet today to show for it! But the money was good when the getting was good! Art was particularly over protective of his staff and me as I was the youngest and he would make sure that any male customer who thought I was "dessert" would be swiftly and gladly upthrown from his bar seat or table and wisked out the front door by the scruff of his shirt collar with Art's big ex boxer hand and in his notorious put on "gruff" voice say, "Hit the road Jack and don't ya come back no more!"  LOL To which he would turn back to the crowd and say, "Ok, show's over...!" And back the band would play and me and the other penguins (white shirts, black pants or skirts) would go back to work!  Just another day/night at the Encore!


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