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

CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF HENRY LOUIS BELCHER - January 15, 1915 - April 1, 2009

Henry "Bel" Belcher - "Cotton Picker & Dancin' Demon"
Obituary by Evan Frazier, nephew

Henry Louis Belcher, the son of the late Louis Belcher and Ethel Belcher.(Frazier), passed quietly on April 1, 2009. He was born on January 15, 1915 on "Old Man William's Plantation in Pendelton, South Carolina. Henry and his family migrated to the Hill District area of Pittsburgh, PA in 1925. He completed his vocational training in carpentry, plumbing, machine and shoe repair at Summers Trade School in 1928. At age 15, Uncle Bel started tap dancing in the streets of Pittsburgh to earn money. By 1938 he was a tap dancer in the original "Fantastic Rhythm" by billy Strayhorn at Westinghouse High School in Homewood. Henry Belsher, James Hambrick and Henry Kelly formed a tap group called the "Hot Shots." In 1940 Henry and his group appeared at the Apollo Theater in harlem under the name of "The Mad Magandis." In 1950 Henry returned to Pittsburgh to work at Golomb Paint and Glass Company for 10 years and Don Allen Chevrolet for 20 years. In 1954 he married Sylvia Cannon and moved to Homewood. Subsequently, they moved to Indianola, PA. His wife preceded him in death in 1974. After retiring from Don allen, Henry and Naseeh Hameed frormed "The Dancin' Demons" group to choreograph, teach and preserve tap dancing which was managed by his brother Andrew Frazier. The Dancin'Demons received several awards in recognition of their talents and contributions. their accomplishments inclided being featured in the Emmy Award winning TV special "Wylie Avenue Days;" Pennsylvania Folk Arts Award; the Living Legends Award given by Renaissance Publications; and the Manchester Craftsman's Guild event entitled "168 Years of Tap Artistry."

The Dancin' Demons performances included the opening of the John Heinz History Center; Pittsburgh First Nighters; Sophisticated Ladies for the 100th Anniversary of Duke ellington; an opening act for Etta Cox's one woman show "The Cotton Club Revisited;" and "A Fantastic Rhythm: A New Revue,: a historic gathering of performers at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty.

He leaves to mourn his brothers Dozia N. Frazier, Jr. James Frazier and Andrew Frazier and his sister Elsie Chatman; his beloved niece Kenneta Lark and his devoted companion Mildred Simone Lurito. His sister Ethelyne Woods preceded him in death. He is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Contributions toward the scholarship on behalf of Henry L. Belcher can be made to the Greater Pittsburgh NAACP Scholarship Fund.

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Comment by Phat Man Dee on April 9, 2009 at 6:19pm
I had the pleasure of working with the Dancin' Demons only once, what a treasure, we shall all mourn his passing and celebrate his life.
Comment by Kevin Amos on April 5, 2009 at 11:08pm
I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Belcher. I have been in Reading for the past feew days at the Berks Jazz Fest and saw this posting today.

I had the great opportunity to know all of the "Dancing Demons" personally and heard a lot of stories and wisdom from Mr. Herny, Brother Naseeh and from Saxie Williams about the music and the hoofers.

The last time I saw him perform was at the 2008 Black and White Reunion.

During a segment at our next Jazz Fan Appreciation Event on April 18, we will acknowledge Mr. Henry and his great career.

My condolences go out to his family and may he rest in peace.

Kevin Amos

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