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

Guest Editorial: The importance of music in shaping our minds

A late popular deejay used to say that “music is the soundtrack of our lives.” On the surface that might not sound like it is of profound import, but looked at more closely, it really is! During the course of dealing with a national upsurge of the dreaded COVID-19, music is one of the things keeping a lot of people sane.

In essence, music is much more than a trivial pursuit, which is why musical artists are so important and are so lauded in society. The most prominent instrumentalists, vocalists, rappers, et al are the keepers of the culture so to speak.

If you think back on your life, a lot of pivotal activities and events have been encoded with the music of those times. In fact, listening to certain songs or compositions can bring a person to tears based on the memories that they conjure up. The power of music is the reason why we venerate so many prominent artists; they have an important influence on our psyches.

Examples of great artists/musical healers include, but are definitely not limited to, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Gloria Gaynor, Isaac Hayes, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Michael Jackson, Jay Z, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Alicia Keys, India.Arie, Ike and Tina Turner, Eartha Kitt, Billy Eckstine, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Queen Latifah, Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, Kirk Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Charlie “Bird” Parker, and many, many others representing a wide array of genres.

Listening to the right music can bring a person out of a deep funk. By the same token, it can also pull people down into the dumps.

This brings to mind the following discussion.

While music is definitely influential and can impact people in a positive way, it can also wreak havoc. This is what happened during the advent of gangsta’ rap.

Initially, hip-hop was basically harmless and whimsical. It later morphed into a more sinister version of music, and those in the know have been able to draw parallels between the rising prominence of gangsta’ rap with its themes of violence, bloodshed, misogyny, materialism, self-hatred, and more, to the rise of fratricidal murder, domestic violence and other community ills plaguing Black people.

Just think about it, music is connected with every aspect of our lives; movies, weddings, funerals, church services, meditation, memories, actually just about EVERYTHING!! Music is anything but frivolous. This is why it is so important that we pay close attention to our musical diet, because it portends the nature of the dominant memes in our communities. Music, in a very real sense, is the soundtrack of our lives.

Because music is so important, we need to take control of what kind of music we embrace as a community. Regarding negative rap music, the late, great Dr. Frances Cress Welsing stated, “We’re the only people on this entire planet who have been taught to sing and praise our demeanment. ‘I’m a bitch. I’m a hoe. I’m a gangster. I’m a thug. I’m a dog.’ If you can train people to demean and degrade themselves, you can oppress them forever. You can even program them to kill themselves, and they won’t even understand what happened.”

Dr. Welsing’s words ring very true during this age of degenerate Black rap music. Of course, there is beautiful music still available, but there is a bias on the part of mainstream media to broadcast music that encourages Black people to self-destruct. This is apparent if we pay attention to what many of our youth listen to and then watch their behavior.

Music is important; this is why we must meet negativity with positivity. We must encourage our youth to support positive music that uplifts, as opposed to low-down “art.”

One of the most prominent new artists today is rapper Megan Thee Stallion. She has collaborated with rapper Cardi B to produce a huge best-selling album titled “W.A.P.,” which is an acronym for “Wet A$$ Pu**y.” Our youth are musically embracing this music.

We can’t, in all fairness, watch them listen to this kind of music and then expect them to become well-behaved, high-minded folks. We must be realistic and begin to take control of the airwaves that are arguably ruining our youth! We must do something about this now!!!

(Reprinted from the Chicago Crusader)

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