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



As our musical icons are graduating into the higher realms we want to keep them fresh in our memories.  Please join this group where you can post any obituaries of the ancestors of our tradition for all to read and learn more about them.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Members: 106
Latest Activity: yesterday


Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides. ---Lao Tzu

O Death, Thou shalt not
Break my pride!
As thou art fame to do
With thy icy hands
As I am living here
With all my awakened soul
Being not connected 
To the worldly greed
I have my feet
Measured into three steps
Permanent ground 
For my celestial grave
To whom shalt thou 
Mitigate even an inch?
The space where my tombstone
Wilt be eracted with pride
Though all thy world
Whose senses work under limit
Of time and space
Feels jealous of my lot
O Death, Thou shalt greet me
As a military troop to their leader
Laughing under suppressed voice
At my crowded depature


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling! And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity...of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.


yes, You...
this part of myself
that i lost with your death.
an ever wailing in my heart
and an ever rejoicing in your freed-OM.
no whispers or glaring sounds can fill. yes...
i continue to learn in your absence...
a fullness of Spirit informs me.
today, the Ancestral realm is singing.
and i, both witness and altar boy
stand in awe and in wonderment;
the exquisite dance of sounds and lights
raining down through and upon me.
and, i bathe in this holiness
where tears wash this
heart and my soul.

---Vandorn  Hinnant


Garden of Memory

There comes to me from out of the past...

a recollection true...

a living glimpse of bygone days...

dear memories of you...

I have within my deepest heart...

a picture of your face...

and though the years may come and go...

time never can erase...

still gently stealing through the night...

are dreams that passed me by...

and I will ever reminisce...

'til stars fall from the sky...

the things we did I live again...

like it was yesterday...

and I am  filled with thrills divine...

by what my thoughts portray...

oh voice that echoes through the years...

you bring the happy hours...

in the garden of my memory...

bloom the eternal flowers.

---Ben Burroughs


Are we as afraid of being born as we are of dying?


The Divine Order we cannot see 
is yet the Divine Order that we be. 
The invisible indivisible incarnates 
and takes leave again. 
A great mystery... mobile 
in times’ trackless sands. 
We witness, we wonder, we revel, we dare 
Behold the Great Mystery 
now laid bare. 
30 January 2021

Discussion Forum

Civil Rights Leader Alma Speed Fox passes at 98.

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison yesterday. 0 Replies

Announcement of the Passing of Civil Right’s Leader and Activists, Alma Speed Fox…Continue

Tags: network, jazz, naacp, hill, district

Sidney Poitier Dies at 94

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 10. 0 Replies

Sidney Poitier, Who Paved the Way for Black Actors in Film, Dies at 94The first Black performer to win the Academy Award for best actor, for “Lilies of the Field,” he once said he felt “as if I were…Continue

Tags: 94, pittsburgh, jaz, network, at

Praise song for a newly minted ancestor Paul Carter Harrison (1936-2021)

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 10. 2 Replies

Praise song for a newly minted ancestor Paul Carter Harrison (1936-2021)By Kym Moore | Special for The St. Louis AmerPaul Carter Harrison reading his work in 2015Photo courtesy of Mark Harrison and…Continue

Tags: Harrison, Carter, (1936-2021), pittsburgh, network

The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu died today 12/26/21

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Dr. Nelson Harrison Jan 5. 3 Replies

Desmond TutuThe Most Rev Desmond Tutu obituaryAnglican archbishop who fought against apartheid in South Africa and led the subsequent…Continue

Tags: pittsburgh, jazz, network, guardian, africa

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of OBITUARIES to add comments!

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 26, 2015 at 4:58am

We have been trying to wake Pittsburgh up to its rich jazz and artistic heritage for decades, hence this network.  More comments like yours would certainly help the process.  Ironically I find that there is more interest in the Steelers among the musicians than there is in the music tradition.

Perhaps you can help me remind them (especially the young-uns) that in the 60s Harold Betters was bigger than the Steelers.  It was so difficult to even give a Steeler ticket away that the Rooneys hired Harold Betters to play outside of Pitt Stadium to draw people into the the Steeler games.  People find that hard to believe but there were often no more than 5000 fans in that 60,000 seat stadium. I was there. 

People lined up 2 blocks in the snow on Walnut waiting to get in to the tiny Encore I to catch Harold's next set.  Remember?

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 25, 2015 at 12:56pm

Yes, Dr. Harrison, will do! Darryl Cann, that is right and a fabulous clarinet player he is too. I was truly awestruck to find him playing, Amazing Grace" right on Art's brick! I think that was a message for me from Art!  Darryl remembered the Encore and Art and Bobby too. I think 5505 Walnut Street, which is the exact address of the Encore but now stands the Steel Cactus should have a blue commemorator plaque like we have here all over London. "Here is the spot that the greatest jazz legends performed at for over 20 years, known as The Encore"! I would really like to see that happen and Pittsburgh take pride in their past history of Jazz because it is Legend! All the best to you and your peeps here, Dr. Harrison. 

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 24, 2015 at 11:25pm


Your comments are truly in the spirit of this network. I encourage more members to register their memories and jazz experiences here so that the names of icons like Art and Bobby Davis will not be forgotten.  If you have any photos, please post them on your page so we can reminisce some more.  Thank you.

BTW the clarinetist is Darryl Cann... another personality making his presence felt in the 'Burgh through music.

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 24, 2015 at 2:33pm

And a little bit of magic happened when I was just home visiting that brick in Shadyside with Art's name on it. (I live in London, England but was home for a month in Pgh in July) so here is my final entry of a wonderful bit of magic! Art Swiden and the Encore style via this video.  Note the clarinet player, who is a Bell Man in his day job! Name is Darryl, check this out. Only in Shadyside!

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 24, 2015 at 1:25pm

Thank you Dr. Harrison. I hope people do see his brick there in Shadyside and think good of Art. I put that brick there in 2009 so it has been there for a while now. I have a special place in my heart for Art and he should be remembered. So many people help make Jazz music happen, not just the brilliant and talented musicians but promoters, nightclubs, music teachers, music publishers and record companies as well as the little people like me who waitressed and tended bar at the Encore and the Balcony in Pgh for a time, 1976-79...where the best jazz in the world was heard! May people remember that time as unique and as Art would say,  "an offer you can't refuse!"  By the way, Art was 6' 1" not 6'12 as it says in my other post! lol He was big man but not that  Harold Betters was born to play at the Encore too and Harold and Art were good friends and I met Billy Conn, also known as The Pittsburgh Kid as a pro boxer who boxed Joe Louis! Art knew Billy, the Steelers, like Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Green and I waited on them all at the Encore.  Everyone came to listen to the Jazz. I will never forget at the Encore II downtown watching Dizzy Gillespie's cheeks blow out while he was onstage blowing his horn! I was young and never saw him before! Many memories of many fantastic and wonderful jazz artists there, like Blossom Dearie, Chuck Mangione,  Sarah Vaughn,  Cleo Lane, Harold Betters, of course, and you name it, they were there! Thanks for letting me share my memories, Dr. Harrison. :-) Bless you and keep up the good work you do here. 

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 24, 2015 at 2:19am


I am so glad you added this information about Art.  You brought back many fond memories for me and I'm sure others as well.  Art was one of a kind and his special personality made Walnut Street the 'place to be.'  I'll stop by and visit his marker next time I am over there and will tell others as well.

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 23, 2015 at 11:22pm

Art Swiden:  born Feb. 11, 1928 - died: Aug. 23, 2004  

Comment by Shawn Cohen on August 23, 2015 at 11:19pm

11 years ago today, the long time manager of the Encore in Shadyside and also downtown on Liberty Ave., Art Swiden, passed away. Art loved jazz and talent and was a true Pittsburgh character! He started his career as a light heavyweight boxer and went pro as a Heavyweight boxer until 1960 when he retired from boxing. His next move was to be THE man at the Encore  Bar and Restaurant on Walnut Street. Owned by Will Shiner but managed by Art Swiden, he loved to make people laugh and his trademark statement was, "I'm not here to hurt ya, I am here to help ya!"  He was 6'12 and a big man who voice could imitate actors like Clark Gable to bit parts in local movies, like the Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. Art loved jazz and made sure the Encore booked the best of the best! He should be mentioned here and if anyone wants to see a small memorial to him, go to the parklet on Walnut Street, right next to where the Encore used to be and look down, you will see his name and it says, "Art Swiden Champ 4 Ever!" Art was my boss at the Encore and he was also my friend and therefore I felt it was only right his name is mentioned in Shadyside where he made himself known throughout. A true lover of music and brought into the Encore, along with Bobby Davis, the best of the best. Missed by so many. 

Comment by Melissa Jones on June 12, 2015 at 12:32am

We lost Ornette Coleman this morning.

Comment by Roberta Jean Windle on April 23, 2015 at 10:09pm

Farwell Chizmo. Will be missed by all who knew and loved you. You were a true entertainer in every sense of the word. RIP. 


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