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

Jazz on the Water: Humphries boat ride raises thousands for scholaships

Jun 13, 2014

By Genea L. Webb  

Scholarship winners with Roger Humphries, center, are Sam Harris, left, who won the scholarship two years ago, and Eli Naragon right, who received a scholarship this year. Naragon graduated from Winchester Thurston High School and will be attending Oberland Conservatory.

(Photos by J.L. Martello)

Attendees from near and far were treated to a nice relaxing afternoon cruising the Three Rivers with jazz flowing as smoothly as the water of the # rivers for the annual Jazz on the Water Boat Ride given by legendary drummer Roger Humphries.

For more than three decades, Humphries has been holding the boat ride and has been allocating the proceeds to help benefit the Roger L. Humphries Sr. Musical Scholarship Fund.

“I started this because I wanted to help the kids at CAPA and I wanted to dedicate so

mething to the kids,” said legendary drummer Humphries. “Over the years the talent has gotten better. It’s great to see so many people here to celebrate this.”

Humphries enlisted the help of Flo Wilson and the Old School Band, and the Latin band, Azucar, as well as his own RH Factor Band to create the music for the trip.

Some of Pittsburgh’s elite jazz musicians and politicians were on hand to share in the festivities.

“Roger’s music keeps me coming back and the scholarship fund because he is always giving back to kids and you’ve got to support that,” said former Pittsburgh Councilman Sala Udin who has attended six or seven of Humphries boat rides. “The crowd continues to grow, the music continues to expand and Roger keeps getting better and better.”

Documentary filmmaker Billy Jackson agreed with Udin.

“This is a tradition and I’m here to support Roger. What’s so beautiful is that you see so many people here who are supporting him. It’s all about family with Roger: his musical family and his cultural family,” explained Jackson who did the documentary “Pass it On,” which chronicles Humphries’ life and highlights the scholarship boat ride.

Humphries’ older brother, James, traveled all the way from Cleveland—with good friends James Haynes in tow—to support his brother’s efforts.

“I’ve attended almost all of the boat rides that Roger has had and each year we had to move to a bigger boat to accommodate people. As Roger added multi-cultural music to the line up, that also increased the audience because each group brings its own following and the scholarship is a good thing because it goes towards the kids’ education,” said James Humphries.

Roger Humphries estimates that he has been able to give about $300 in scholarship money to each student.

The amount of the scholarship is not what made Winchester Thurston graduate Eli Naragon want to apply for it this year, but it was Humphries’ influence on Naragon’s musical life.

“Ever since I was in middle school, Mr. Humphries would come to Winchester Thurston to help kids. He’s been great with advice and I’ve gotten the chance to go to CJ’s and sit in with his band, and I’ve been playing around the city,” said Naragon, an 18-year-old Mt. Lebanon resident who will be attending Oberlin Conservatory for music in the fall. He plays bass—electronic and upright—as well as the cello.

“I’ve learned that the best teaching happens on the band stand. Roger taught me how to let go and to speak through your instrument, because that’s what he does. No one else can do that like Roger,” Naragon continued. “Roger leaves for the music. He’ll play no matter what.” Naragon aspires to play for a symphony orchestra and have his own band once he graduates from college. “I want to make my life playing music. I wouldn’t be here without the help of all of my music teachers.

” Humphries felt Naragon was the perfect musician to secure the 2014 scholarship.

“Eli is a very talented young man. We didn’t have that many entrants from CAPA this year,” Humphries said. “If you don’t have the discipline and heart to play an instrument, it’s hard to play that instrument. But Eli has that discipline and heart. It’s important to mentor the kids and I’m proud when they want to continue their education.”

“Roger constantly passes on his knowledge to people,” said Samuel Harris, who received Humphries scholarship two years ago. The 20-year-old Point Breeze resident has been playing the bass since fourth grade and met Humphries while Humphries taught at CAPA and he was a student there.

“I got Roger’s sound in my ears and I wanted that sound. I couldn’t ask for a better musical parent,” continued Harris, who is studying musical performance at Temple University. “In Pittsburgh all musicians are family and they care about each other. This is my second time attending the boat ride and it’s always fun.”

“This is one of the most memorable trips down a body of water,” said James Haynes, owner of Cleveland’s Faith Community United Credit Union. “I’ve been up and down the Allegheny a lot and this is one of most enjoyable. I can’t wait until next year.”

AMANDA ALDRIDGE, from the West End, dancing to Azucar, a salsa band. AMANDA ALDRIDGE, from the West End, dancing to Azucar, a salsa band.

BILLY JACKSON, a film artist BILLY JACKSON, a film artist

People on the dance floor as the boat ride comes to an end.



FLO WILSON singing her heart out FLO WILSON singing her heart out.

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 16, 2014 at 11:06pm

You were missed Rich.

Comment by Pgh Rich on June 16, 2014 at 7:27am

Sorry I had to miss this one 

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