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

Horace Lee Turner, transcendent Pittsburgh musician, turns 100!

Horace Lee Turner, transcendent Pittsburgh musician, turns 100!

HORACE LEE TURNER, who was part of the first Black band to play at Carnegie Music Hall in 1948, was the center of attention on Sept. 23 at Corner View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, on Frankstown Ave…and for good reason. It was his 100th birthday. (Photos by Rob Taylor Jr.)


Horace Lee Turner was born on September the 23rd, 1921, in Mobile, Alabama, Lexington Avenue.

His family moved to Pittsburgh when he was about 6 or 7 years old. They moved to the Hill District and he attended Miller School and Fifth Avenue High School.

His father brought an old bent-up King trumpet home from American Reduction where he worked. “Once I made a sound on it, I was hooked,” he said.

His teacher at Fifth  Avenue encouraged him and showed him a bit. Then he studied with Cark G. McVicker Sr., a premier private teacher at Pittsburgh Musical Institute. His first time playing in public was at the Kay Boys Club on Wylie Avenue in the Hill City Band. He began to learn jazz riffs by copying a trumpet player in the neighborhood named Bradshaw.

Horace Lee Turner’s love for music was infectious and he remains an inspiration to musicians young and old.

Because Black musicians in Pittsburgh didn’t make much money, you had to have a day job or a side hustle. Horace was always an enterprising man. He opened Turner’s Record Shop at 2160 Centre Avenue. It was a very successful business for about 10 years. He went to Gateway Tech where he learned to repair radios and television sets. He accepted Bell Telephone phone bills as another way to get people to come into the shop.

In addition to the trumpet, Horace taught himself to play another eight  instruments—drums, piano, bass, guitar, baritone, conga, harmonica, organ and he also sang very well. He also was a good showman who developed the act of playing the trumpet and piano at the same time. He became a successful bandleader which was an additional stream of income for him beyond his store.

He often was the preferred band to substitute for Walt Harper when Walt was double-booked because Horace knew how to please his audience, which was the secret to Harper’s success. He taught his wife, Mary, to play the drums which was an added attraction to have a woman drummer. Mary immediately became the bandleader in the public’s eye. That lasted for 30 years. When he wasn’t leading his own band, he would occasionally play as a sideman in bands like Joe Westray’s when they were playing backup for national acts like Brook Benton.

Horace was drafted into the Army and stationed at Camp Shenango in Butler, Pa. The band was attached to Deshon Hospital and he served his entire four and a half years in Butler. The band used to broadcast over WWSW Radio every Monday and he met a lot of celebrities during that time. After his discharge he enrolled in Pittsburgh Musical Institute and got his degree.

He once auditioned for Ray Charles at the 471 Musicians Club at Enterprise and Frankstown Ave., but decided not to ever go on the road based on the stories he heard from traveling musicians. Also he was playing quite a bit in Pittsburgh anyway.

He first took his niece, Pola Roberts, to gigs and she soon graduated from conga drum to a full set of drums. She became quite proficient and Stanley Turrentine took her to New York where she stayed and made some recordings before retiring from jazz.

One of his treasured memories is being a member of the first Black band to play at Carnegie Music Hall in 1948

Horace was the musical director of Jazz at the Hill House in the ‘90s. Many celebrities like Stanley Turrentine and Johnny Lytle made a point to stop by on Sundays when they were in town to jam with the locals and visit with old friends. Along with Bill Blakey, Frank “Geronimo” Battle and Travis Klein, it ran for over 10 years. Once it was broadcast on a show called “Inbound” and it went all over the world on the Internet.

HORACE LEE TURNER, with many of his fellow musicians and friends.

Horace’s love for music was infectious and he remains an inspiration to musicians young and old. The milestone of 100 productive years deserves applause and congratulations for another addition to his treasure chest of memories.

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on October 11, 2021 at 9:45pm

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on October 11, 2021 at 9:44pm

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