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
I lived in a second floor apartment at 2173 Webster Avenue. There, amidst all the goins' ons...The Perry Bar, on down to the Crawford Grill #2, shoot over to Center Avenue where there were flourishing far as the eye could see...both ways...both sides; head on down past The Savoy Ballroom, The New Granada Theater, hustle on past the Roosevelt Theater, constantly weaving through an endless flow of moving people until I'd reach The Irene Kaufmann Settlement; turn left on Helman Street and just a few more weaves before I reached Grandma's house. This was my routine virtually every weekend from the time I could walk until age eleven.

At age six, I recall seeing and hearing Eddie "Lock Jaw" Davis play at the Perry Bar. My Uncle, who loved jazz and rhythm n' blues, knew all the musicians by name. He had been close friends with Eddie Jefferson. Both had frequented the pool room which was located on the first floor of the building in which I lived. His name was Arthur Robinson. When I was very young, my friends and I used to ride each others shoulders while looking through the diamond-shaped window in the stage door of The Crawford Grill. My first memories of "the grill" began in circa1949, and I can't remember there ever being anything other than a diamond-shaped window in that door even until today. The matinees were difficult to see through the window because the sun would be up; but when the sun was down, we had a birds-eye view of the musicians in action. These guys...always well dressed...always well groomed...havin' plenty bet...they were cool. The sounds, on the other hand, were ever present, sunny or not; and sometimes we'd just sit...backs against the building...listening. At the time, I had no idea these experiences would eventually serve in shaping my point of view musically or otherwise. All I knew was that I truly enjoyed what I was hearing and liked what I was seeing immensely.

Movies in the late forties aired good music too. Cartoons...jingles...there were songs that displayed a ball bouncing rhythmically atop each syllable...each word...from left to on screen lesson so to speak...teaching rhythm...a visual exhibition of steady rhythm as it applies to sounds that change...then change...then change. It had added character to each had enhanced and provided a distinct color for each character. At times, percussion would be tossed into the mix; and as this combination of pops, thumps, clicks and crashes blended simultaneously with ever changing, twisting and sidewinding sounds...a story would begin to unfold. A story which contained a beginning and an ending...a story in which the melody, the harmony and the rhythm would travel up the hill, then down the hill while describing and colorfully detailing the scenery along the way as it journeyed from one destination to another. Each scene contained its own unique landscape. To be sure, the landscapes intrigued me the most; for it is the landscape which reveals the theme: dramatic, romantic, comedic, melancholic, horrific, and for me at the time, out and out'd they do that? Nevertheless, I had realized practically from the onset that every theme could be sufficiently addressed, or abundantly supported, or highly polished, or even lavishly decorated, and more...much more...with music. The sky's the limit...the possibilities...never ending.

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Comment by EVD on August 6, 2019 at 9:33pm
Thank you. Was too young to have experienced this. Look forward to part 2. Great historical writing.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 6, 2019 at 1:20am


I just rediscovered this beautiful piece you wrote and shared.  It gave me goose bumps of memories that you described so well.  There is finally some new interest in preserving and renovating the "crib" as we called the "Grill."  I will share your piece with some of the principal advocates in the hopes that they will be touched and inspired by our words and memories.  If you have finished a part 2, please feel free to post it.  Jazz lives matter.


Comment by david shane on December 30, 2008 at 1:11pm
...Kennard - This is great! I await your continued portrait of a beautiful place during a beautiful time when music filled our streets and our young hearts.... thank you for publishing this to PJN. Your details are wonderfu!, and I so enjoy being transported back to a place I once knew .... music is our salvation.... please tell me more..... (!)
Comment by Kennard Roosevelt Williams on December 29, 2008 at 11:23pm
Thank you very much for featuring THE MUSICAL HILL...please stand by for Part II

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