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

April 7th marks the centennial celebration of the incomparable Billie Holiday. Her genius remains the foundation for jazz vocalists and her legacy reigns supreme.

The Swing Song Tradition 

By the early 1930's, the Jazz Age was coming to an end. The 2/4, oomp-pah rhythm of the 1920's was giving way to the smoother, more elastic rhythm of the Swing Era. Benny Goodman officially got the ball rolling at the Palomar; but the Jazz Age Orchestra had left a musical question unanswered. Something was missing, and that something, would be addressed by a jazz enthusiast, turned record executive, along with a Texas-born pianist and a young, unknown singer from Baltimore.

The emergence of the Swing Era big band was not immune to the dire economic challenges of the Great Depression; and there was also a remaining artistic dilemma. The singer's participation within a jazz music presentation left much to be desired. In fact, the jazz vocalist was non-existent. John Hammond, A&R man (artist and repertoire) for Brunswick Records, was given the task of devising records for a market which saw a diminishing ability to sustain the high cost of recording big bands. Also recognized was the inability of pop singers of the day, to swing with the band. He addressed the problem: How do you incorporate a singer into a jazz context and how, within the realm of big band popularity, make it economically feasible?

Enter Teddy Wilson. Wilson, a consummate pianist, educated at Tuskegee Institute and Talladega College, was approached by Hammond with the challenge. The two collaborated and their solution was brilliant; treat the singer's voice equally, as one of the jazz instrumentalists and place them all into a big-sounding, small scale ensemble. A recording date was scheduled for July 2, 1935 and the outcome was pure gold. Teddy Wilson (p), Benny Goodman (cl), Roy Eldridge (tr), John Trueheart (g), John Kirby (b), Cozy Cole (d)........... and Billie Holiday, (vocal). The Swing Song Tradition was born, and with it came the emergence of the jazz vocalist, and for Billie, unparalleled recognition and stardom. Her delivery epitomizes the Swing Era concept and her expression of lyric leads some to argue her supremacy will remain forever intact. One note: for many, the name Billie Holiday, conjures thoughts of a woman whose man done her wrong and a depressive sadness for love lost. To those, I can only let the music speak for itself. The joy Billie expresses in the Swing Song Tradition recordings allow us all to share in a happiness and joie d' vivre which only she can express.

Join in the Billie Holiday Centennial Celebration on  Billie's entire discography (1933-1959) will be aired during jazz-specific programming during the week of April 7th-April 10th, BUT, continuous Billie will be heard on April 7th & 8th.

Happy 100th Birthday Billie!

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