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

Obituary: Ronald “Bingo” Mundy / An original member of The Marcels

Obituary: Ronald “Bingo” Mundy / An original member of The Marcels

April 20, 1940-Jan. 20, 2017

The Marcels made their indelible mark on the history of rock ’n’ roll with the signature “bomp baba bomp…” that opened their 1961 hit “Blue Moon.”

Ronald “Bingo” Mundy didn’t sing that bass part, but he was one of the angelic tenor voices that quickly came in on the harmonies: “moon-moon- moon-moon-moon, dip-da-dip-da-dip.”

Mr. Mundy, of the North Side, died Friday at age 76 of pneumonia at Allegheny General Hospital.

He and his friends formed the Marcels, named after a stylist haircut, in 1959 while students at Allegheny High School on the North Side, inspired by groups like the Harptones, the Cadillacs and the Spaniels.

A demo tape sent to Colpix Records landed them at New York’s RCA Studios in February 1961 to record, among other things, a rockin’ doo-wop version of the Rodgers and Hart classic "Blue Moon" with an intro they’d been using on their take of The Cadillacs’ “Zoom.”

As legend has it, the day he heard it, New York DJ Murray the K played "Blue Moon" 26 times in a four-hour show. In March 1961, the song knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the Billboard chart, becoming the first No. 1 rock ’n’ roll hit out of Pittsburgh. The million-seller went top 10 hit all over the world, as far as Israel and South Africa, and that summer the Marcels sang it in the Hollywood movie "Twist Around the Clock.”

They released a number of other singles that year, hitting No. 7 with “Heartaches” and No. 24 with the “Porgy and Bess” classic “Summertime.” The group’s 1961 debut album also included The Chantels’ song “Goodbye to Love.”

That year, Bingo, as he was known to friends and family -- “I didn’t even know my uncle’s name was Ron,” said Sarah Huny Young -- met Janet Brandon, who recalled first real date was a Marcels gig at an East Liberty club.

She was unimpressed by stardom, but she said, “My sister and I were waiting, all dressed up in front of The [Pittsburgh] Courier and this big white limo pulled up. Jules [Kruspir, their manager] was driving. We went to the show, where they were presented with a plaque by Porky Chedwick.”

That year, 1961, was a whirlwind for the Marcels -- with the tours, the TV shows, the movie, the recording sessions - but the jet-set life was fleeting for Mr. Mundy.

“The fact that they were racially mixed caused a lot of problems,” said oldies promoter Henry DeLuca. “They couldn’t tour down South that way, and had to go with an all-black lineup.”

That shook up some of the chemistry of the group.

“It got to be hard,” Mrs. Mundy said. “He called me and said, ‘I’m going home and getting a job.’ ”

He left by the end of 1961, the last year the Marcels charted on Billboard. They got married in March 1962, and Mr. Mundy, after a few different jobs, became a bus driver for Port Authority of Allegheny County, where he retired after 25 years.

But, in one way or another, he was always a Marcel. He and two other original members would perform as the Marcels, creating a legal dispute with the trademark group led by Walt Maddox, who had joined in the middle of ‘61. Mr. Mundy sang in oldies throwback group the Memories, which sure enough did Marcels songs, and he sang in the Wesley Center AME Zion Church. Mr. DeLuca and T.J. Lubinsky reunited the original Marcels in 1999 for the PBS special “Doo-Wop 50.”

“He always had singing in his blood,” said Ms. Mundy. “He loved the oldies and my kids were all raised on them.”

Ms. Young said she will remember him for his distinctive drawl, his love for biking and swimming, gadgets, fresh haircuts, and his generosity.

“The most awesome to me as a kid: he owned a candy store on The North Side for a short while. That store may not have made it because he just gave us, his nieces and nephews, all the candy.”

He is survived by wife Janet, of North Side; daughter Sharon, of the Hill District; son Ronnie, of the North Side; brothers William, of Sheraden, and Ramon, of North Side; grandchildren Todd and Tre.

Visitation will be at Odell Robinson Jr. Funeral Home, 2025 Perrysville Ave., Perry South, from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Scott Mervis:; 412-263-2576.

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