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

Veteran jazz guitarist and mentor Henderson Thomas, Sr. dies at 84


Obituary  Condolences

On October 23, 2014, Henderson Thomas, Sr., 84, of North Versailles, PA. Husband of Martha (Porter) Henderson; father of Lola Jean (Thomas) Wade, Robert Spencer, Barbara (John) Betton, Shirley Lewis, Patricia (Harry) Tyler, Henderson (Victoria) Thomas, Jr., and Bruce Thomas; brother of Clyde (Lavin) Thomas, Nathaniel (Sherry) William, Montgomery (Evelyn) Thomas, and Williette Jackson; also survived by 19 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; a host of other relatives and friends. Visitation will be Wednesday, October 29, 2014, at 4 to 8 p.m. at WATTS MEMORIAL CHAPEL, INC., 808 Talbot Avenue, Braddock, PA 15104, (412) 271-3880. Funeral Service will be Thursday at 11 a.m. on October 30, 2014, at Payne Chapel AME Church, 601 Priscilla Street, Duquesne, PA 15110. Interment Restland Memorial Park.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Oct. 28 to Oct. 29, 2014

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Replies to This Discussion

Another Pittsburgh legend has passed. I met Mr. Henderson when I first started to play. He was very encouraging. May he rest in peace with God.

I owe alot to Henderson

God rest his soul. Now the angels will be joined by one of the greats.

I talked with Henderson at Crawford Grille a couple of times. He was so kind and congenial, to me indicative of an integral part of the Crawford Grille atmosphere. 

Much later I saw the movie "Struggles in Steel". There he was, in the most heart-clenching scene.

Taken from an article at Baltimore Sun

In a painful sequence in the PBS documentary, a Duquesne Steelworker named Henderson Thomas is moved to tears describing his two-year struggle to become a crane operator.

"By me eating, sleeping, praying, I became as good as anybody," Thomas says in a choked voice. "I was determined and I did it."

It's beautiful that his voice was heard. But his talent as a musician somehow didn't make it into the movie or the article. I am grateful for this obituary page, to record some of these things.

Thank you Dr. Day. You have truly spoken in the spirit of this network.


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