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
I’m a reporter for The Daily News in McKeesport. Luckily for me, I get to review the occasional jazz CD. Generally, our album reviews appear in the Thursday and Saturday papers. CDs can get up to 5 stars.

PIECES OF A DREAM “Soul Intent” (Heads Up International) 2.5 stars — As I listen to the new Pieces of Dream album, I find myself wanting to sing along and I would, if I knew the lyrics; would, that is, if there were lyrics.
None can be heard on this instrumental CD but the melodic hooks on tracks like “Vision Accomplished” and “APB” are so strong they make me want to break in to song.
Man, they would be the perfect back-up band for Chaka Khan.
But this CD has problems.
Those memorable riffs that beg for words get a little monotonous the further one delves into the disc. By the time I reach the title track half-way through, I’ve about had it with the amnesia-proof hooks, to say nothing of the in-the-pocket drumming and one-size-fits-all song structures.
In short, this is a smooth jazz album and it all sounds like it’s been run through some kind of processor.
Despite this Velveeta-fying influence, the band, which formed in Philly more than 30 years ago, can get a groove on. Listen to “D Fuse the Situation” — probably the best cut on the CD — and you’ll get a whiff of what could be if they’d lay off the smooth cheese. (Eric Slagle)

This review originally appeared in The Daily News on Feb. 28, 2009.

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