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

Alan Bargebuhr - Cadence Magazine Review – December, 2000

"What's in Store? - Jessie Wills, Canary Label, 1999

“In Jessie Wills, we find straight forward simplicity of style and an openness of voice that is both sanguine and sweet. It is her “Thousand Eyes” that is the preeminent version of the three (I reviewed this time) with some astoundingly linear tuba playing by Jim Self. When Wills scats against his melodic burrowing, there is something metaphysical in the air. Frank Rosolino’s "Daniel" hits a lighter-than-ether waltz groove, with an inventively optimistic lyric by the singer herself. She proves to be quite adept at gestating lyrics in fact, as she proves with Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes,” Denny Zeitlin’s “Quiet Now" and Eric Susoeff’s “Nova Azul,” the latter of which is infused with grace and an airy sort of lyric levitation (magic/romance/the moon/the stars). The title track is by pianist Oh and herself with, once again, her lyric, but that’s just my educated guess, since the convention of listing songwriting credits with composer preceding lyricist (as in Rodgers & Hart, and Arlen & Mercer) is observed most often in the breach these days.* Nevertheless, it’s a mighty engaging tune, from any aspect. The disc’s major surprise and delight is the resurrection of a Kay Swift/Paul James gem from the 1929 (“The Little Show”) Broadway season, “Can This Be Love.” How she found it will be her secret. That she found it and put it on her disc is a small miracle for which we can all be thankful. “Romance” is ardently innocent, with pungent statements from Self and Oh. (Henceforth, I will have to refrain from my small joke about the possibility of the tuba replacing the harmonica as the instrument of choice in hell.) Self is so good; he is, you might say, a revelation in matters tubaceous. But it is Oh, another intuitive arranger/accompanist, who acts as overseer and routing wizard and, in the words of Captain Picard, makes it so. “Caravan” is a romp, with all hands, Self included, swinging for the upper deck and going yard with ease. “Quiet” is a vocal/guitar duet, nicely done, but perhaps not the climactic track on which to end. I might have placed it in the middle of the recital to provide some offset to the pervasively sunny effusion of the set. The only question left unanswered is whether or not Ms. Wills can dramatize a lyric, can make the listener feel misery and loss, can make us want to cry with her. Next time, perhaps.
---Alan Bargebuhr

* Jessie Wills did, in fact write the music and the lyrics to “What’s in Store,” with cordial assistance from P.J. Oh. Hope you like it!

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Comment by Kevin Amos on January 10, 2009 at 11:49am
Jesse...did you know that Alan was a member of that dynamic WYEP Jazz team for many years?


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