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

Here's my take on this.

First of all Jazz radio is not dead. Some programmers lack immagination and can't program their way out of a paper bag. Those individuals are killing the culture and the music that surrounds it.It's about the music...not the station. Stations come and go. So do formats. When it comes to who is on the air it is not what you know, but who you know. And yes, there is an uneven playing field.

I have been able to successfully program Jazz on commercial and non-commercial radio for over thirty years now. I also program Jazz weekly on my Sunday show from 6-9AM as part of a six hour slot at WRCT 88.3 FM, here in Pittsburgh. ( 

Jazz Radio RIP...My Midlife Jazz Crisis 
Joseph Vella

The other day my 10-year-old daughter walked into my office as I was listening to one of the prominent jazz radio stations on the east coast. She listened for a bit and then bluntly asked me why jazz sounds like an old fashioned movie.
When I realized the station was actually playing a new jazz release, it struck a nerve and got me thinking just how out of touch many jazz radio stations are in their programming of the music. I know for a fact that the music today is rich, eclectic, expansive and exciting, but why do the majority of prominent jazz radio stations (at least here in the USA) want to keep the music pinned in a rigid box and never venture out and show the variety that jazz has to offer?
Watching what has happened to jazz radio programming over the past 15 years has been heart breaking. A lot of it boils down to economics, I know, but that is still NO excuse for boring and uncreative radio programming especially in jazz. I grew up with local jazz station KJAZ 92.7 FM and banked many listening hours. That's where I first learned about the rich history of the music as well as the contemporary scene.
What KJAZ did especially well was present the old stuff and the new stuff in an equal manner, never spending too much time in either the past or present. And they played all styles within the music including both acoustic and electric variations. Their programmers really knew the music and served up creative and inspiring sets day after day.
Listening to KJAZ taught me that jazz, as a genre, was not one style that should be kept in a box. It's a collective art form that is constantly moving forward and redefining and reinventing itself. This was an invaluable lesson that helped shaped my passion for the music as well as my career path.

So the question remains, why do most jazz radio stations only want to offer one flavor of the music? Some may say if you don't like the station then don't listen to it, but frankly, that is not the answer. A jazz station is vital to the progression of the art form and has the power to do incredible work for the music. But in order to successfully achieve this, they must be relevant to the current times unless they want to go the way of a museum art format like classical or the "unforgettable" station.

Doesn't this music deserve more?

- Joseph Vella,

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