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

1 Let’s Learn from the Past: The Crawford Grill William “Gus” Greenlee Pittsburgh Crawfords  BRADY SMITH, HISTORY CENTER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS  JUN 8, 2017   12:00 AM The Craw…

Gus Greenlee owner of the Crawford Grill and the Pittsburgh Crawfords Negro League baseball team.

Let’s Learn from the Past: The Crawford Grill William “Gus” Greenlee Pittsburgh Crawfords

The Crawford Grill in Pittsburgh’s Hill District served as the epicenter of jazz music from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Located on the corner of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue, the club was founded in 1930 by William “Gus” Greenlee, a leader in Pittsburgh’s African American community who ran the popular “numbers” game and later owned the Pittsburgh Crawfords Negro League baseball team.

Despite existing in an era of racial segregation, the Crawford Grill welcomed customers of every ethnicity. Both African American and white musicians made their way to the Hill to jam with African American musicians from around nation, as their love and appreciation for jazz music outweighed racial prejudice.

As its popularity soared, “The Grill” attracted hundreds of jazz legends to its revolving stage, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Billy Eckstine, and Stanley Turrentine. In addition to jazz musicians, many actors, athletes, and politicians were known to frequent the club, including civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and baseball legend Roberto Clemente.

In 1943, Greenlee partnered with Joseph Robinson to open a new Crawford Grill at Wylie Avenue and Elmore Street in the Hill District. After Greenlee’s death in 1952, Robinson passed ownership of “The Grill” to his son, William “Buzzy” Robinson. The third incarnation of the club opened in 1948 at Bidwell Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, but closed its doors in 1955, as it was unable to generate the same business it did during the Golden Age of Jazz.

In 2001, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission recognized the importance of the Crawford Grill and dedicated a state historical marker at the club’s second location on Wylie Avenue.

Visitors to the Heinz History Center can step inside a recreation of the Crawford Grill and listen to music from some of the region’s most prominent jazz musicians as part of the long-term exhibition, Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation. For more information, please visit

First Published June 8, 2017, 12:00am

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