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

Arthur “Juini” Booth 1948–2021

The revered bassist collaborated with an eclectic range of artists through six decades

Juini Booth Juini Booth at Merkin Hall, New York, September 2012 (photo: Alan Nahigian)

Juini Booth, a versatile and widely heralded bassist who worked with a vast swath of jazz artists over a career of nearly 60 years, died July 11 at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y. He was 73.

His death was announced on the social media accounts of the Sun Ra Arkestra, of which Booth was a longtime member. Cause of death was not disclosed, but his older sister, Mary Booth-Bowden, told The Buffalo News that Booth had been in declining health for six weeks after suffering a broken hip in a fall at his home.

A force on both the acoustic and electric bass, Booth accrued a remarkable résumé that spanned the spectrum of jazz talents and styles. Among his associations were Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Chuck Mangione, Eddie Harris, Sonny Simmons, Shelly Manne, Freddie Hubbard, Hamiett Bluiett, Chico Freeman, and Steve Grossman, as well as the Sun Ra Arkestra.

He was probably best known, however, for his three-year tenure with pianist McCoy Tyner, with whom he made three albums for Milestone Records: Enlightenment, Song of the New World, and Atlantis. Booth and drummers Alphonse Mouzon or Wilby Fletcher created an insoluble rhythm section that locked in with Tyner’s left hand, giving the pianist some of the strongest support of his solo career.

Tributes to Booth flowed in from across social media. Smalls Jazz Club owner Spike Wilner recalled “his peaceful and gentle demeanor and slender frame – with [a] bebopper’s heart and the soul of the warrior musician.” Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts counted Booth among “the sweetest, most soulful people.”

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“He was a great jazz bassist and an interesting gentleman who was soft spoken with few words,” recalled keyboardist and producer Tom Schuman. “He communicated mostly through his instrument and his deep eyes.”

Arthur Edward Booth, Jr., was born February 12, 1948 in Buffalo, New York to Arthur Booth Sr., a railroad porter, and Mary Booth (née Walker). Both parents died in 1961, when their son was 13. His curious nickname developed because his older sister Mary was unable to say the word “Junior” as a child. Over the years, it was spelled in a variety of ways on album covers and concert flyers—including Jiunie, Junie, Joony, Jooney, Joonie, Juni, and Juney—but Juini was his preferred spelling.

The younger Booth began playing piano when he was about eight years old, switching to bass when he was 12. “I always had this dream that I wanted to play bass with some great jazz people,” he told podcaster Jake Feinberg in 2020. Thus at 16, he would use his late father’s railroad pass to travel about two hours east to Rochester—“a little bit more progressive than Buffalo was, music-wise”—where he could play with the likes of Chuck Mangione and Sal Nistico.

Booth told saxophonist Richard Tabnik that his most important influence was Pittsburgh-born bassist Sonny Dallas. “He’d play LP’s on 45 rpm to hear the bass better and learn his lines[,] then, he’d think: ‘How would Sonny Dallas do it?’” Tabnik wrote on Facebook. “He became THE Juini Booth on the day that he said: ‘how can I do it differently than Sonny Dallas?’”

After graduating from Lafayette High School in 1966, Booth moved to New York City. He stayed in the home of drummer J.C. Moses, who became a mentor, and quickly began getting work with Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, and Dollar Brand—often on the recommendation of Moses’ friend Paul Chambers, who gave Booth gigs that he didn’t want anymore. He also found his way into the avant-garde scene, working with saxophonist Sonny Simmons (and playing on his album Music from the Spheres, recorded in 1966 and released in 1968). Word spread quickly about the new bassist in town, and by 1967 Booth was playing bass with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. During his brief tenure in that storied group, he met another short-term member, pianist McCoy Tyner.

After leaving Blakey, Booth toured with Freddie Hubbard for three years, followed by two years with the Tony Williams Lifetime. During this period, he played with Gary Bartz, Marzette Watts, and Larry Young as well, before Tyner hired him for his quartet in 1973. He remained with Tyner until 1976, playing on three albums and several tours. He also embarked on a 1974 tour of Japan with Takehiro Honda and Masabumi Kikuchi.

After the summer of 1976, Booth moved back to Buffalo and established his home base there. He worked thereafter as a freelancer, building a presence in Cleveland with saxophonist Ernie Krivda and pianist Neal Creque, and in Los Angeles with saxophonist Chico Freeman, as well as maintaining relationships in New York. (Most prominently, Booth recorded and toured frequently with saxophonist Steve Grossman in the 1980s.) He joined the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1989 and continued playing with them until his passing. He also served as the music director at Buffalo’s Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center from 1981 to 1982 and at the Niagara Arts Council in St. Catharines, Ontario, in the early 1990s. 

Booth is survived by his older sister and by a son, Chad. He was predeceased by a second son, Maasai.

In addition to ceremonies in Buffalo, a tribute to Booth is planned at St. Peter’s Church in New York City, but details are still to be determined.


Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.

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