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



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About Me:
The trombetto is known as the horniest little horn in existence? It is a one-of-a-kind brass instrument custom-made for me from several components and spare parts in 1990 I named this instrument “The Trombetto from the Ghetto” and it is well on its way to becoming the most famous horn in the world.

Its journey began in December, 1980, in the window of Gelman Loan Company in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty area on Frankstown Avenue at Lincoln Avenue. During Pittsburgh’s reign as a capital city of jazz music in the 1940s and 50s, some of the best jazz and legendary jam sessions took place within a two-block area of Gelman Loan, the last standing business in the block from that era.

A former trumpet and baritone horn-player-turned-trombonist, I was looking for a gimmick to augment my combo presentations when the horn in the window caught my eye. It turned out to be a pocket cornet made by Amati, equipped with two extension lead pipes and a cornet mouthpiece. The sound had a tin-horn timbre that would not be taken seriously in musical circles. The second time I removed it from its case the breakthrough discovery occurred. I wondered if my trombone mouthpiece would fit the lead pipe where the extension tubes go. It worked. Not only was it in tune but the timbre was velvety-rich like a French horn/fluglehorn combination. The sound was delightful and I knew I had discovered much more than a gimmick. It rapidly garnered attention at gigs and jam sessions everywhere I went.

There was a slight problem, however. In using the trombone mouthpiece I was only able to play about two octaves in chromatic sequence upwards from E concert in the bass clef. The horn, on the other hand, could be played higher than the normal range for the mouthpiece. However, the horn could not play the complete lower register where the mouthpiece was better suited to play.

In 1990 I consulted Ted Weir,* master brass technician of the Brass & Woodwind Shop in Carnegie, PA. I commissioned him to add a fourth valve and additional tubing for the purpose of completing the horn’s lower registry capability. The rest of the His genius accomplished the task with some carefully selected spare parts that he hand-crafted to solve the problem.

The result is the trombetto, a name I chose in 1980. It has been a delight to play and it has many yet to be discovered possibilities. Exploring those possibilities has been both a challenge and enjoyment. Having the bell only fourteen inches from my ear makes me want to cuddle it when I play. The fourth valve allows me to fill the chromatic gaps in the lower octaves very similarly to the way an F-attachment on a bass trombone works. In the middle octaves the fourth valve lets me trill on any note since it barely changes the pitch at all. It also allows me to simplify the most difficult trill of all for a trumpet – concert A ~ B - below the treble staff. In the highest registers the valves are not so important. Using the same mouthpiece on the trombetto as I do on the trombone has kept me from having to build an entirely new embouchure in order to switch easily from one to another while strengthening my trombone chops. The diaphragmatic strength needed to play the trombone is an aid in playing the trombetto. I have now succeeded in being able to play chromatically from the lowest C to the highest C on the acoustic piano.

What started out as a search for a gimmick has resulted in the creation of a serious instrument that is also a curiosity. It blends well in harmony with other horns and it adapts well to the application of mutes and plungers for expressive effects. Electrified or played into a microphone it can produce an amazing range of color and dynamics.

* Note: Ted Weir presently works in the instrument repair department of Volkwein’s Music in Pittsburgh, PA.
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Posted on July 17, 2009 at 6:30pm 0 Comments

Patty passed away July 15. Her memorial service is Saturday, July 18. Her obit is in the PG today. We would love to have you attend. Dave Zubrow, 412-260-012. Also please feel free to pass the news and invitation along to others. PEARCE PATTY (McCURDY) Age 62, on Wed. July 15, 2009. Beloved mother of Robert (Jill) Kruse; step mother of Erin and Brett (Marlena) Pearce; grandmother of Maxwell, Anna and Harrison Kruse; loving companion of… Continue


Posted on June 30, 2009 at 9:42pm 1 Comment


June 30, 2009

Television Review | 'Nova: Musical Minds'


“Musical Minds,” the season premiere of “Nova” on PBS, is based on the neurologist Oliver Sacks’s most recent book, “Musicophilia,” a collection of case studies of people whose brains have unusual relationships to music, cases in which, as Dr. Sacks puts it, “music gets them going to an extraordinary degree.” A one-hour program can’t approach the depth and texture of… Continue

$1.1 million stabilization of New Granada under way

Posted on June 12, 2009 at 3:00pm 0 Comments

By C. Denise Johnson | Published Yesterday | Metro | Unrated

C. Denise Johnson

Courier Staff Writer

$1.1 mil stabilization of New Granada under way

The highly-anticipated Pittsburgh marathon can’t hold a candle to the long distance quest to save the New Granada Theater.

Marimba Milliones, now executive director of the Hill District Community Development Corp., is heading the effort to resuscitate the New Granada. She believes “the New Granada… Continue


Posted on June 10, 2009 at 10:15pm 3 Comments

We are approaching 1300 members and at our present rate of growth we will reach 2000 members by year end. We thank each of you for joining and giving this network a chance to demonstrate the collective and individual power of social networking for the benefit of the artistic community and its fans and consumers. Many of you have not ventured to explore the capabilities at your fingertips for various reasons and we encourage you to… Continue

'Betto Debuts at IAJE Convention in NYC

Posted on April 7, 2009 at 12:40am 0 Comments

'Betto Debuts at IAJE Convention Trombonist Nelson Harrison Unveils His Icon At

Web/Tech News Posted: 2007-01-11


San Francisco Bay design firm, imajinnWEST and Pittsburgh native, Dr. Nelson Harrison have given 'birth' and the coming out party is the International Association of Jazz Educators' Convention in NY this week. 'Betto is the alter ego designed by Principle Djinn Carl Lewis and spawned by the veteran trombonist of the Count… Continue

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At 4:49am on August 30, 2009, Dr. Nelson Harrison said…
Check out this link:
At 6:23am on July 25, 2009, Dr. Nelson Harrison said…

At 6:11am on April 7, 2009, Kennard Roosevelt Williams said…
Thank you for your response. What an amazing story you and Dr. Harrison have to tell. It's truly a pleasure to touch base with you.

Best Wishes,

At 5:33pm on December 29, 2008, The Blues Orphans said…
You look familar. Do you have a twin?



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