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 a reporter for The Daily News in McKeesport. Luckily for me, I get to review the occasional jazz CD. Generally, our album reviews appear in the Thursday and Saturday papers. CDs can get up to 5 s…

I’m a reporter for The Daily News in McKeesport. Luckily for me, I get to review the occasional jazz CD. Generally, our album reviews appear in the Thursday and Saturday papers. CDs can get up to 5 stars.
AARON J. JOHNSON "Songs of Our Fathers" (Bubble Sun Records) 5 starsFans of the hard bop tradition, listen up. Jazz trombonist Aaron J. Johnson's debut CD comes tearing out of the starting gate like a thoroughbred, then burns up the track like a well-kept Buick Dynaflow.
Fast. Fun. Strong. This collection will have listeners rolling down the windows and stepping on the gas. The opening cut, "A Fuller Life," is a pedal-to-the-metal bopper, and "Cannonball," not surprisingly, kicks up a little dust, but full speed ahead is not the album's only mode. Introspective listeners will appreciate the slower, melodic "So Long / I Can't Wait" a few tracks in, while "Folk Forms" and "Big Fun Blues" show the band knows how to get its split-personality groove on, shifting back and forth easily on both tunes between a serious swing thing and a crazy New Orleans kick. The penultimate cut on the CD is the alleycat-cool "Shamba," while the closer, "Our Thing," is another high-octane run.
Johnson, 51, was born in Washington, D.C., but local jazz fans may know of him through his involvement with the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Kenny Clarke and Nathan Davis. He's also got a degree in engineering from CMU and a ton of musical credits playing with big name jazz acts. He's supported well on his debut solo CD by Salim Washington on tenor sax, pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs, bassist Robert Sabin and Victor Lewis on drums.
Hopefully the trombonist has a few more like this up his sleeve. (Eric Slagle)
This artic appeared in The Daily News on March 7.

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