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

CHARLES BELL, pianist, father of choreographer Linda Imani Barrett & drummer Poogie Bell passes in New York City

Charles Bell was a well-trained classical pianist who graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in the early 1950s.  He turned his attention to jazz at around 20 years of age and soon made his mark on the jazz scene with his Charles Bell Contemporary Jazz Ensemble landing a contract with Columbia Records. 

Charles was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony to write a three movement jazz symphony called “Concerto in Miniature of Jazz Quartet and Orchestra” that was conducted by Dr. William Steinberg in 1963. The Charles Bell quartet released several recordings on the Columbia and Atlantic labels and toured the world during the 1960s.

Daughter, Linda Imani became a principle dancer in the Bob Johnson Black Theatre Dance ensemble in the early 70s.  She danced in the historic theatre-dance presentation of "Isis" at soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in 1971 which is still remembered as one of the most inspiring original black cultural presentations of its time.  "Isis" was accompanied by original music composed by Nelson Harrison whose quintet performed live on stage with the dancers.  It debuted as the opening act for the Alice Coltrane Quartet at Soldiers & Sailors in April, 1971 and its second version was the opening act for Kool & the Gang at Syria Mosque in 1972.

Son Poogie was born in Pittsburgh 1961 spending his early years in the steel city  When Poogie was around 10 months old he sat for hours in a high chair watching his father s band rehearse. Around 5 A.M. the next morning his mother was awakened by the sound of drums thinking the band’s drummer had arrived early.  She found Poogie in the living room sitting atop the drum stool tinging away on the cymbals,   At the age of two and half he made his concert debut playing with his father at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall.  Appearing with Pearl Bailey he made his first television appearance on the Mike Douglas Show in 1966 at age five.  Pooggie’s family moved to New York City where his father became a music professor and continued to perform with his quartet. In New York Poogie go to know Max Roach and Ornette Coleman who jammed with his father in the Bell’s living room. Bassist Paul Chambers was a neighbor.


Charles lived rather quietly and obscurely in his NYC apartment at the time of his passing.

Please add any memories of him to this post so that we may share his accomplishments with the general public who should know about him as a pioneering presence in Pittsburgh's jazz legacy.

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Replies to This Discussion

Linda and Poogie, My most sincere condolences on the passing of your father, Charles. I had the pleasure of playing with him a few times in the 60's. He was a very forward thinker and very much a gentleman. May God rest his soul in Peace. My heart goes out to you.

I Remember him well.. I had heard last Tuesday that he had passed but was unable to confirm it.

We grew up in the same hood, he in the 800 block of Bryn  Mawr Rd and I the 800 block of Cherokee St. 

What I remember most is Charles playing at the Paris After Dark on Rt51 in Brentwood. I think it later became the Bottom-up and not a place Charles would have step a foot in

I would echo Tony's statement Charles Bell  "was very much a gentleman"



My friend , i just wanted to give my condolences to you and your family,Peace be with you!

Brian E. Edwards

To the extended Bell family; please accept my deepest and most heartfelt condolences.

--Vince Agwada

My condolences to you Poogie and the rest of your family. I never met your father, but knew him by his great reputation.


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