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: Nov 27


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

Jill West, Pittsburgh blues dynamo and pediatric nurse, dies at 68

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Anthony (Tony) Janflone Nov 27. 1 Reply

1Jill West, Pittsburgh blues dynamo and pediatric nurse, dies at 68  SCOTT MERVISPittsburgh…Continue

Tags: 68, at, pittsburgh, jazz, music

Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim dead at 91

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Nov 27. 0 Replies

Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim dead at 91By …Continue

Tags: pittsburgh, jazz, network, music, 91

Jeannette native Slide Hampton, eminent jazz trombonist, composer and arranger, dies at 89

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Dr. Nelson Harrison Nov 25. 2 Replies

Jeannette native Slide Hampton, eminent jazz trombonist, composer and arranger, dies at 89 POST-GAZETTE NEWS SERVICES NOV 23, 2021 11:35 PMLegendary jazz…Continue

Tags: dies, arranger, 89, pittsburgh, music

Trumpeter, journalist Ed Skirtich has finished his earthly journey.

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Nov 21. 0 Replies

A wonderful tribute to our friend…Continue

Tags: jazz, network, music, pittsburgh, journalist

Comment Wall


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

Comment by Bettoman on March 16, 2011 at 9:10pm
I remember when Melvin Sparks first came to Pittsburgh as the replacement for George Benson in the Jack McDuff Quartet at the Hurricane.  I last saw him at the Detroit Jazz Festival in September 2010 backing singer Ernie Andrews along with Louis Hayes, Bobby Watson and an organist.
Comment by Roberta Jean Windle on March 16, 2011 at 8:08pm
It is so very important to remember & praise those who have been such an important part of our lives. Very, very important!
Comment by Garl Germany III on March 16, 2011 at 5:20pm
Luther was really one of the best, he will be missed.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on March 16, 2011 at 5:18pm

Melvin Sparks Dies at 64

March 16, 2011 – - Melvin Sparks, a much-in-demand soul-jazz guitarist who recorded with virtually all of the great organists of the late ’60s and ’70s and pioneered a sound that borrowed from Grant Green and Sly Stone, died on March 13 . He was 64. Sparks was at his best playing a muscular, groovy rhythm guitar behind organists like Leon Spencer and Charles Earland , breaking out occasionally with a melodic, groovy solo. He was a mainstay at Prestige during the ’70s, where he was a first-call session guitarist noted for his pulsating twangy feel.

Two of my favorite albums featuring Sparks are Leon Spencer’s Louisiana Slim (1971) and Charles Earland’s Infant Eyes (1978). Here’s Leon Spencer on Mercy, Mercy Me with Sparks keeping jazz-soul time. And here’s Charles Earland’s Thang from 1978 off of Infant Eyes, with Sparks running a string-bending solo. Also on the date: Bill Hardman (tp), Frank Wess (fl,ts), Mack Goldsbury Melvin Sparks, Grady Tate (d) and Lawrence Killian (perc).

Comment by Dan Wasson on March 16, 2011 at 4:39pm
has anyone heard any news about Roland Draft?
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on March 13, 2011 at 4:28pm


|   Visit Guest Book
On March 7, 2011, Turhan, age 74 of Penn Hills. Husband of Bariki Hall Shabazz; father of Charles Raymond Casey, Angela Renee Cook, James Edward Casey, Crystal Lynn Rodes, Donita Sawyer, Brandon Rahman Casey and Kevin Casey; brother of Sybil Jones; also survived by grandchildren, other relatives and friends. Visitation will be Friday 2-8 p.m. at the First Church of God in Christ 700 Talbot Ave., Braddock where the funeral service will be held Saturday, 10 a.m. Interment Monongahela Cemetery. Services of comfort entrusted to WATTS MEMORIAL CHAPEL INC., 808 Talbot Ave. Braddock 412-271-3880.
Send condolences at

Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from March 10 to March 11, 2011
Comment by Flo Taylor on March 12, 2011 at 9:13pm

I am posting here today because I miss my friend, Luther DeJarunett. I hope I'm posting in the right place. I miss him dearly and need to vent my pain at not being able to dial his number and hear his voice, which I did often.


For the past few years I have been somewhat preoccupied and have not kept in touch with many people, but he was one of the few that I stayed in contact with. He was someone who was always ready to lend an ear, always there when I needed someone to talk to. There were times when he could not get out and about and I didn't mind doing whatever I could to help him as well.


When I heard of his death two days ago, I thought I got the information wrong so I began calling people, hoping that a mistake had been made...then I went to his Facebook page and the reality hit me...a day late. I had just talked to him two days before. He was planning to do his next gig, an annual fundraiser that he looked forward to every year with the Tim Stevens Project. He had a bad cold and said he was going to get some rest.

I talked to one of his long time friends, Michelle, this morning who advised me to try not to be upset and that folks were taking care of the burial/ceremonial plans. I talked to his neighbor (he found him) who also assured me that everything is being taken care of and that relatives who live outside of Pittsburgh have been contacted. One is a nurse, fortunately. There are questions to be answered.

What Luther and I had in common was an inability to sleep sometimes. From the beginning of our friendship he was one that I called and I was one that he called at ANY time, night or day. He talked about not wanting to die alone...not wanting to die soon and that is exactly what happened. As time passed and I took on another 'life assignment', we didn't talk as long or as much at night, but I kept in touch with him on a regular basis. I miss him so much and I am angry at what has happened to him. I know that I am supposed to be accepting, since there isn't a damn thing to be done now, but that is not happening. I am restless and I think that his spirit must be, also.

I am in Houston now and unfortunately won't be there for the service, so I'll continue to be in contact with those who are 'in the mix' right now. Luther was a fantastic musician, a wonderful person and I miss him incredibly. I don't know if he is resting in peace though...he's just gone. Too soon. His death was untimely, unexpected and unnecessary. Right now, I need to hear from Butch McGhee and Nelson.

Comment by Roberta Jean Windle on March 12, 2011 at 2:26pm
For all the special musicians who have gone to that better place, your memories will live forever.
Comment by Harold Walker on March 11, 2011 at 10:32am

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