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

At 102, a ‘Triple-Digit’ Jazzman Plays On

“I was 17 and I was girl-crazy — the other guys were out getting the girls while I’m still packing up the drums,” he recalled, adding that one day, he picked up a silver Buescher tenor saxophone that had been left behind, and began fooling around with it. “I said, ‘The heck with this,’ and I took up the sax.”

Enamored of saxophonists such as Mr. Young, Coleman Hawkins and, especially, Ben Webster, he began leading jazz combos such as the Three Tempos. During World War II, he worked as a welder in a military shipyard.

Mr. Staton always had a day job at various restaurants, even after moving to New York in 1952. The restaurant work helped support his family, but also kept him from flourishing as a jazz musician until later in life, when he retired.

“I didn’t wait — it just happened,” said Mr. Staton who in recent decades has led groups such as the Jazz Gents, and a gospel-tinged combo called Sounds of Deliverance that played gospel brunches at Copeland’s in Harlem.

Mr. Staton never became a jazz headliner. When the music grew more modern, he adhered to a traditional swing style that remains respected by colleagues.

“I love his playing,” said the saxophonist Jimmy Heath, who at a comparatively youthful 90 is still playing a busy schedule. “He stuck with his same style, and he just keeps going.”

Mr. Staton said of Mr. Heath, “When I see Jimmy, he tells me, ‘When I grow up, I want to be you.’”

Unable to explain his longevity — he drank for much of his life and was a smoker until he was 60 — Mr. Staton said he just kept playing, even with arthritic hands and barely enough strength to practice.

“I’m grateful and blessed that I can do it,” said Mr. Staton, who is scheduled to play on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Central Library on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn; and on July 10 at 7 p.m. at Local 802 of the Associated Musicians of New York on 322 West 48th Street for Mr. Mullins’s 92nd birthday.

At the Monday night gig, a dinner organized by Louis Feinstein, an accountant and jazz fan, for the New York Tax Study Group, Mr. Staton bent forward with emotion as he soloed on “Mood Indigo” and then played “Perdido” and “C Jam Blues.”

Afterward, his grandson Richard Staton eased him carefully into a yellow cab.

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