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

Dizzy Gillespie and the Pittsburgh Connection

John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was born in Cheraw, SC, October 21, 1917. His virtuosity on trumpet was immediately recognized and through teacher recommendations, received a scholarship to Laurinberg Institute (NC), where he studied music with esteemed educator, Philmore "Shorty" Hall. Upon his exit, Dizzy headed to Philadelphia, embarking on a professional musical career. His ability had been realized by many, but not appreciated by all. As a member of the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Dizzy's replacement became imminent as his "non-Louie-like" approach matured and termination inevitable. The associations following his release from Cab's orchestra, would provide musical partnerships and associations initiating a stellar career which would last for decades and only end with death.

Pittsburgh great, Earl Hines, established as the primary originator of modern Jazz piano, headed his legendary band at the Grand Terrace Hotel, in Chicago. Hines had proved himself, not only master of the piano, but as highly successful talent scout, recognizing genius within a group of burgeoning originators. In 1943, Dizzy joined Hines' band, immediately followed by a young alto sax player hired to play tenor....and his name? Charlie Parker. The BeBop duo was in place and joining them on the bandstand were vocalists Sarah Vaughan and Pittsburgh's own, Billy Eckstine. Dizzy's most successful recording, "A Night In Tunisa" (aka "Interlude"), was in fact, titled by Earl Hines.

In 1944, Billy Eckstine, headliner and heart-throb extrodinaire, began his own band. Using his status as star vocalist to generate revenue, he supported Gillespie's and Parker's musical concept and began the first presentation of orchestral BeBop. Dizzy was hired as musical director and, although the band was short-lived, its orchestral concept remained an integral component to the BeBop idiom. An aside: The Charles "Teenie" Harris Collection archive provides marvelous photos of this band/1944 Aragon Ballroom, Pittsburgh. I would love to hear someone indicate a "home"/air-check recording exists.

Dizzy Gillespie's remarkable career explored Afro-Cuban rhythms, engaged in pre-Bossa Nova, samba-like rhythms. He collaborated with Lalo Schifirn (Gillespiana), toured the world as Jazz Ambassador and continued his legendary career providing exemplary music with vigor, originality and humor. He died January 6, 1993.

WKCR will celebrate the CENTENNIAL of John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie beginning on FRIDAY, OCT. 20th, at 5:30 AM (ET) and continue into SATURDAY, OCT. 21st. Phil Schaap will present musical and biographical commentary on Friday from 7:30 AM - 11:00 AM and on Saturday from 7:30 AM - 10:00 AM.

Join Dizzy's CENTENNIAL celebration. It only happens once!

Click "Listen" in upper right corner.

Finally, I will celebrate the centennial by listening to WKCR and wearing my "Dizzy Gillespie For President" lapel pin. But, that is another story!

Views: 419


You need to be a member of Pittsburgh Jazz Network to add comments!

Join Pittsburgh Jazz Network

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on October 23, 2017 at 4:38am

Pittsburghers who played in Dizzy's bands: Kenny Clarke (drums), Art Blakey (drums), Ray Brown (bass), Joe Harris (drums), Sam Hurt (trombone) Linton Garner (piano).  Roy Eldridge was Dizzy's trumpet idol.

Comment by Bob Garvin on October 17, 2017 at 5:09pm

I think I still possess 78 RPM records of both Diz and Bird from the 1940s. The first time I saw him live was when his group alternated with the Deuces Wild at the Midway Lounge on Penn Ave. downtown---probably early 50s.. Years later, Dizzy mingled with fans as well as performing in a "Jazz On The River" cruise. One night at Blues Alley in Georgetown, Diz called Oscar Brown, Jr. up from the audience. One of his numbers was "The Snake". At his campaign rallies last year, Trump misused some of Brown's lyrics to represent Mexican immigrants and Muslims as snakes who would bite the hand that feeds them. Unforgivable!

© 2024   Created by Dr. Nelson Harrison.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service