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


In an era of world music, it is imperative that America's most important cultural contribution to the world… Jazz music… be preserved, taught, expounded, developed and commemorated. We have dedicated ourselves toward to recreating a physical and virtual context within which the above purpose can be fulfilled in Pittsburgh, one of the most fertile breeding grounds for icons of the culture. A state-of-the-art space of historical or geographic significance can provide the perfect atmosphere for the education, presentation, documentation, archiving, production and research of the performing art of jazz and its related musical forms. This could significantly raise the consciousness of the world to the significant contributions of Pittsburghers and stand as a living monument to the cultural excellence spawned in Pittsburgh's communities and celebrated around the world by countless millions. A venue of this nature would attract tourists and visitors from around the globe. In the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s no town could boast a finer night life than Pittsburgh. This is one reason so many jazz legends were produced during those years. It began to disappear in the late '60s largely due to the integration of the musician's union locals, each of which had maintained an all-night entertainment, eating and social venue in the local clubhouse prior to the merger. Upon the merger the black locals in most cases gave up their buildings to join the white local, and the white local summarily closed their clubhouse rather than share a social atmosphere with the blacks. The construction of the now Mellon Arena effectuated the simultaneous bulldozing of the richest repository of Pittsburgh's jazz legacy, the lower Hill District. If the legacy is to be perpetuated, an area must be selected to revive some of the atmosphere long since lost and scarcely remembered. In addition, young people like yourselves need a place to experience the music in vivo in an interactional atmosphere as it is meant to be enjoyed. The creators and master craftsmen of this music who have truly touched our hearts and helped to shape our lives with their artistry are truly an endangered species. It is a modern day tragedy that their stories remain untold and become lost forever upon their passing from life. The master craftsmen of the 1920s and 1930s are almost all gone today. Among the survivors there are few well enough to tell their stories. Use the internet to explore the treasured artistry of the many legends associated with the Pittsburgh tradition and discover the evidence of the opening statement of my book-in-progress, A Treasury of Pittsburgh's Jazz Connections: The Greatest Story Never Told. "If New Orleans is accepted to be the birthplace of jazz, then Pittsburgh is its Fort Knox." Following are some names to research: Earl "Fatha" Hines, Billy Eckstine, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Strayhorn, Billy May, Roy Eldridge, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Ray Brown, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Sammy Nestico, Stanley Turrentine, George Benson, Dakota Staton, Joe Harris, Maxine Sullivan, Barry Galbraith, Dodo Marmarosa, Grover Mitchell, Eddie Jefferson, Phyllis Hyman, Bob Babbitt, Slide Hampton, Lena Horne, Paul Chambers, Roger Humphries, John Heard, Mickey Bass, Ron Anthony, Joe Pass, Musa Kaleem, Joe Kennedy, Jr., Steve Nelson, Peter Matz, Cecil Brooks, III, Jim Pugh, Eddie Safranski, Cutty Cutshall, Syreeta Wright, Bob Cooper, Jimmy Ponder, Horace Parlan, Porky Chedwick, Joe Negri, Adam Wade, Johnny Costa, Chuck Jackson, Tommy Turk, The Variety Club, Dave Lalama, Ralph Lalama, Ray Crawford, Marpessa Dawn, Steve Grossman, Bill Tole, Darrell Grant, Perry Como, Gene Kelly, Melvin and Mervin Steals, Jester Hairston, Sonny Clark, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Beaver Harris, J.C. Moses and Henry Mancini

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on April 9, 2009 at 12:26am
The list of names at the bottom of this post is just intended to be a teaser, not an exhaustive list of important Pittsburgh musicians. People who join this network have the best chance of discovering additional names and also to learn something about them. That is one of the main purposes of this network. I am trying to attract members from all over the globe to come here to discover the stories that only we can tell.

Friends, family members and fans can help this effort by posting photos and info about their favorites on their own page so we can tell a more complete story than just listing the names. You can also post some of their music if you have it so visitors can learn why they were great. We have the opportunity to do more than list names here. My personal list of important Pittsburgh jazz artists has over 1200 names on it, some of them famous and others known only to a few. This network offers an equal opportunity for each member to promote their favorites and their musical tastes. It's all built into your page as you learn to use its capabilities. I'll be visiting your page to see how you are doing.
Comment by roger humphries on April 8, 2009 at 4:36pm
Way to go Nelson. I like to add some name to your list. Frank Fatman Humphries (trumpeter), Hildred Humphries (saxophonist), Theodore (Teddy) Humphries (Vocalist/Pianist) and Gregory Humphries (drummer),
Walter Bradford (drummer), Leroy Brown (alto sax), Johnny (Sonny) Starks (sax), Bill Gambril (organist), Tommy Turrentine (trumpeter), Pete Henderson (trumpeter) and etc.
Comment by Don Cerminara on April 8, 2009 at 11:35am
SUGGEST YOU ADD danny conn, joe dallas, john wilson, mike tomara
Comment by Kevin Amos on April 8, 2009 at 4:56am
Nelson...."the era of world music" is misleading. "World Music" is a marketing term that for over 20 years has been used to separate genres, not bring them together. That is why there is a separate music chart depicting thi as there are for Jazz, Blues, Rock, R&B, Reggae, Smooth Jazz, etc..

The folks from this area through their work have transended boundries and I have publicly highlighted this in the exhibit I did a few years ago titled "Our Musical Legacy". I'll post the photos here on the site to give an example. Remember..I also highlighted you and the Trombetto!

Comment by Kevin Hurst, Sr. on April 8, 2009 at 4:33am
Marpessa Dawn? She played the part of 'Eurydice' in Black Orpheus! A beautiful woman I thought was from Brasil. Great names you have given us Dr. Harrison!- kev
Comment by Anthony (Tony) Janflone on April 8, 2009 at 3:25am
Samson & Delila??

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