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

Hello Family: Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month

Hello Family: Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month

I just came back from a drive back home.

For those of you who know me, that means through the Allegheny Mountains of western Maryland and Pennsylvania; to Pittsburgh PA, or as we natives like to call it, “The Burg!” The ride was cool; Nia and I enjoyed traveling through the tunnels. It’s a nice trip in the springtime.
With my brother, we took a ride to our old neighborhood The Hill
District, not far from Oakland; which is where the University of Pittsburgh
is. While up on The Hill, we took Nia to show her the places where funny family stories actually took place. (smile)

In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, I began thinking about the rich history the Hill District
plays in the national landscape of jazz music and the Pittsburgh black arts
scene in general. In its’ heyday, The Hill District was pretty much like Pittsburgh’s version of NYC’s Harlem. And in fact, arguably, (and I’m not the expert, mind you) a Hill District nightclub called The Crawford Grill is The Burg’s version of Harlem’s The Apollo Theater.

Many nationally known jazz artists would come in town to play at the formal downtown club, then after the gig, they would go up town to the Crawford Grill to hear local black jazz musicians play. I once heard a

story about DC’s Duke Ellington who was up all night at the Crawford Grill after his performance downtown because he got so into playing the piano, he actually began writing a song. The owner of the Grill, at the time, kept the club open all night, allowing Mr. Ellington to finish composing his song. Again, I’m not the expert, and therefore not sure what the song title is…….Hey… if anyone reading this post knows the name of the song, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog and let us all know the answer!

So, in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, (JAM, LOL) I pay homage to the legacy of The Crawford Grill, in Pittsburgh PA.

I give appreciation to The Crawford Grill and the whole jazz musical scene on The Hill because it gave birth to and helped fuel the development of the entire black arts scene in Pittsburgh during the 1960s and 1970s; of
which many of you know, I grew up in. If the Crawford Grill and other clubs like it had not existed, perhaps
opportunities like being in the PBTDE would not have existed for me and others.

Of course, we have the entire month to appreciate jazz and its influence on the cultural traditions of our country. We all know that jazz music is a true American art form. The cool thing is that we can all share in the stories. Take some time this month to reflect on the importance of jazz music from your community and family. If you’d like to share those stories, feel free to post your memories in the comment section of my blog!

If you need some resources on how to celebrate jazz music with your friends and family this month, check out:

And of course, if you want to know what’s happening specifically in The Burg, check out my profile at

Peace and Blessings,


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