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: Rosslyn Leiber Litman / Jewelry entrepreneur, wife of nightclub owner

Died Dec. 20, 2012

December 22, 2012 12:13 am

She mingled with the stars during Downtown Pittsburgh's heyday in the 1950s,  the sleek, lovely wife of Copa nightclub owner and Pittsburgh Press columnist  Lenny Litman. She hosted Tony Bennett and Erroll Garner in her Squirrel Hill  home. She built her own successful retail business, bringing good costume  jewelry to the city's better stores. And she also raised a family.

Rosslyn Leiber Litman would never have called herself a feminist, but she  ended up having it all. She was a mother and entrepreneur by day and a constant  presence at her husband's nightclub at night, said her daughter, Rebecca Litman  of Highland Park, because "she loved the bigger-than-lifeness of my father, and  she loved his life, of being a nightclub owner and a newspaperman, someone who  ate breakfast when she was serving the kids dinner."

Ms. Litman, of Shadyside, died of pulmonary disease Thursday at UPMC  Shadyside. She was 85.

A native of Donora, Ms. Litman was the daughter of a prominent glass bottle  manufacturer who operated the Donora Bottle Works and who lost all his money in  the Depression. At age 5, she moved from the biggest house in town to the small  apartment over a jewelry store. Smart, beautiful and street savvy, she graduated  first in her class from Donora High School and, at a time when few women at her  high school went to college, she went to the University of Pittsburgh.

In her senior year, she met Mr. Litman, then owner of Lenny Litman's Copa at  818 Liberty Ave., where Johnny Mathis, Ella Fitzgerald, Vic Damone, Sarah  Vaughan and other big acts appeared between 1948 and 1959.

The two actually met at Lenny Litman's other big venue -- Mercur's Music Bar,  which he owned with his brothers Archie and Eugene and which hosted some of the  most prominent jazz artists in Pittsburgh -- Art Tatum, Ethel Waters, George  Shearing and Walt Harper.

The 6-foot, 4-inch former Hollywood agent "decided very quickly he wanted to  marry her," their daughter said, noting that her mother "had known a certain  amount of struggle herself and was really attracted to the idea that he lived an  unconventional life."

Growing up in the modest house on Burchfield Avenue with her brother, the  late David M. Litman, Rebecca Litman remembers a domestic life far different  from those of her friends, with lots of interesting visitors -- including a  left-behind puppet of Senor Wences, a ventriloquist and a staple on "The Ed  Sullivan Show," who had left town without it.

"We were the only ones I knew with a Pitney Bowes postage machine in our  kitchen," said Rebecca Litman, noting that between mother's jewelry business and  her father's side job as a correspondent for Variety, it was in frequent  use.

"They were out every night and she worked every single day, which a lot of  women her age didn't do," she said. "One of the great things was that my father  never questioned her, never made any demands on her. She must have told me a  million times -- he wanted her to do what she wanted to do."

There were some bumps in the road -- at 24, Ms. Litman was diagnosed with  Hodgkin's disease and spent seven years in and out of treatment.

"If anything, that experience gave her a sense of urgency," her daughter  said, noting that after a visit to an older sister in Manhattan, Ms. Litman  decided to bring costume jewelry and accessories to Pittsburgh. She worked out  of the family's Squirrel Hill kitchen, initially selling items to gift shops for  fundraisers, before starting a company called Fabulous Frauds by Roz.

She also was a mentor to other young entrepreneurs. "She took me under her  wing and guided and taught me so much about the business," said Debbie Bragle,  owner of Cosmetique DeStefino in Shadyside. "She knew what she was doing, she  had an eye and a sense of what women wanted and what was affordable."

As the business prospered, she started selling more glamorous items to the  Tres Chic boutique at Kaufmann's and other stores. "We'd open a drawer to look  for a fork and there'd be a dozen bracelets," said her daughter.

Even though the Copa closed in 1962, Mr. Litman, who went on to write a  nightlife column for The Pittsburgh Press, remained passionate about bringing  new entertainment to Pittsburgh -- from Mort Sahl; Bob Dylan; the Rolling  Stones; Peter, Paul and Mary and The Band to one of the first big Broadway road  productions, "Hello, Dolly!" starring Carol Channing.

"I think my mom must have bought her Shadyside house with the 'Hello, Dolly!'  money," her daughter said.

"You could have a big hit one week and a bomb the next, but my mother rolled  with it. No sane woman would have opted for the life she did, but she was by my  father's side every step of the way, at the club and in everything he did in his  life," she said.

There will be no visitation, but a service will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday at  Ralph Schugar Chapel, 5509 Centre Ave. in Shadyside, followed by burial at  Ahavath Achim Congregation Cemetery.

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