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

Band salutes Walt Harper in Highland Park concert

Monday, August 13, 2007


Rebecca Droke, Post-Gazette 
Barbara Austin of Wilkinsburg claps along with the All That Jazz band honoring Walt Harper at the first summer concert of the Reservoir of Jazz series in Highland Park yesterday. The series continues through Sept. 2.
Click photo for larger image.
Somewhere Walt Harper is smiling. Those were the sentiments echoed by his daughter, Sharynn Harper, who drove in from New York to participate in a tribute to her late father at Highland Park yesterday afternoon.

The concert, the first in the popular Reservoir of Jazz series, featured Mr. Harper's tribute band and the Burgh Big Band.

Between performances, Mr. Harper's wife, Maggie, was presented flowers and Evan Hertrick received a $5,000 award as the 2007 Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz Scholarship recipient.

Mr. Hertrick, a Penn Hills native and senior at Youngstown State University, plays bassoon and tenor saxophone.

As the music began to unfold, the crowd inched closer to the stage, listening to Mr. Harper's All That Jazz tribute band performed some of his favorite tunes like "I'll Drink to That" and "It's My Pleasure."

Directed by saxophonist Don Aliquo Sr., the band also featured saxophonist George Thompson, bassist Mark Perna, trombonist Nelson E. Harrison, drummer John Schmitz and pianist Duke Spaulding.

At one point, Mr. Aliquo asked the crowd to identify a song closely associated with Mr. Harper. It was "Satin Doll," a song Mr. Harper performed so often that most people thought it was he, not Duke Ellington that, who wrote it.

Dr. Harrison told the crowd that he first became aware of Mr. Harper in 1948, when Mr. Harper worked as disc jockey for a local radio station.

"He was the first jazz DJ in Pittsburgh," said Dr. Harrison. "He later played at my high school prom, and I joined his band in 1967."

Dr. Harrison said Mr. Harper was a great entertainer and band leader.

"He gave us a lot of jobs," he continued.

"The pay wasn't that great, but we have a lot to be thankful for."

Mr. Harper died Oct. 25 of an apparent heart attack.

First published at PG NOW on August 12, 2007 at 10:55 pm
Nate Guidry can be reached at or 412-263-3865.

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