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





The Oliver Lake Steel Quartet with Meshell Ndegeocello

& 4-time slam champ, Patricia Smith


Jazz-Poetry is a great concert and a unique event that has begun to attract international attention.  The Concert brings poets and writers to Pittsburgh from many countries.  Poets perform in their native language with simulcast translations on a large overhead screen.  Collaborations with the musicians are 4-6 minutes in length and created at a special rehearsal on the evening before Jazz Poetry.  The venue for Jazz Poetry Concert is unique:  it is the site of City of Asylum/ Pittsburgh’s “House Publication” project-- a public street lined by houses with text-based artwork on the house facades and occupied by exiled writers. 


The musicians also perform a full concert of avant-garde jazz.  The Concert has been reviewed as “#1 Jazz Concert of the Year” and “best jazz concert in years.”  2011’s was also one of the most memorable evenings yet:  On a scale of 1 to 5, Jazz Poetry 2011 was rated near-perfect, a 4.7 (out of 5) by the audience in post-event surveys.


The event and the audience and the setting on Sampsonia Way have been called “the model of the way Pittsburgh can and should be a demonstration project for the future.”


  • Date:  September 8, 2012
  • Time:  7:45 pm – 9:45 pm
  • Cost:  Free, Open Seating (no reservations required)
  • Location:  300 – 500 blocks of Sampsonia Way (Northside, 15212)
  • Rain location: New Hazlett Theater


Oliver Lake, Jazz Poetry Concert’s musical curator and host since 2005, will be bringing his Steel Quartet, featuring steel drum virtuoso Lyndon Achee.  The Steel Quartet shows a bit of Oliver Lake’s funk-oriented side. 


“Visionary jazz….For those whose major impression of Lake involves the sort of brash, arpeggiated solos that do much to define free jazz and post bop, the Oliver Lake Steel Quartet will come as a revelation.  Rooted more firmly in classic bop than free jazz, the Quartet operates as a groove collective….Achee’s steel drum prowess adds a certain Caribbean flavor to the music, but it’s unquestionably Lakean Jazz—far-reaching, liberally seasoned and deliciously unpredictable. “ (


As a special guest, we are pleased to feature the 9-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello.  Meshell was the first female “bassist of the year” chosen by Bass Player Magazine.  She is also a popular and electrifying singer and song-writer, who has worked with everyone from Prince, the Rolling Stones, and Madonna to Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, and Steve Coleman.  She knows how to groove and how to jam equally well.

Earlier that day, workshops will be conducted by Lyndon Achee and Oliver Lake for youth in the YMWAHA Steel Pan Academy and COL Jazz.  


About City of Asylum/Pittsburgh

City of Asylum/Pittsburgh creates a thriving community for writers, readers, and neighbors.  We provide sanctuary to endangered literary writers, so that the writers can continue to write and their voices are not silenced.  And we offer a broad range of literary programs in a community setting to encourage cross-cultural exchange.  We anchor neighborhood economic development by transforming blighted properties into homes for these programs and energizing public spaces through public art with text-based components.

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