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 passing along Phil Schaap's account of Fred Staton's 102nd birthday bash:

An outpouring of love as well as a display of pure musical joy occurred at Local 802 (the Big Apple branch of the American Federation of Musicians) as several hundred gathered to celebrate the 102nd birthday of Fred Staton (born Sunday, February 14, 1915). Fred attended and played!!!! Mr. Staton is a tenor saxophonist. Robert Smalls, the last African American Congressman from the days of Reconstruction, was still alive & Staton’s childhood buddy and classmate, Billy Strayhorn,... was 288 days from being born when Fred arrived on Valentine’s Day a hundred and two years ago! Fred Staton is the OLDER brother of the late and great Dakota Staton. The birthday gentleman of Jazz arrived early in a fine looking tuxedo and a fabulous red bowtie. After dinner but before the cake, Fred Staton played a set with his beloved Harlem Blues & Jazz Band …. Fred has been the senior member for some time now. And the birthday parties at Local 802 for Fred have been going on for some time; in fact: they started when his age was only in double digits. I’ve attended and spoken at all of these events. I always look for a good spot in a very crowded room when Mr. Staton cranks up his tenor sax. At the hundredth, I pleased Fred and broke up the crowd when I noted that on his 98th birthday (2/14/2013) his Blues solo was five choruses and that he did it that way a year later (99 on 2/14/2014). But on Saturday, February 14, 2015 – FRED STATON’S CENTENNIAL – Fred blew six choruses on his Blues feature! Let me tell you, I was even more overwhelmed by Staton’s effort on his 102nd birthday. Fred blew fluid and lengthy solos of “Take The A Train” and “Lady Be Good” before being put into the absolute spotlight. But on those two full band numbers, Fred Staton, one hundred and two years old Fred Staton, set background riffs behind the other soloists AND Fred Staton was playing strong. Undoubtedly, Mr. Staton will outdo himself once again on the 103rd.

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Comment by Barry Boyd on February 17, 2017 at 3:25pm


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