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 trombonist Randy Purcell made mark locally, nationally

Buzz up! By Bob Karlovits, TRIBUNE-REVIEW Wednesday, May 20, 2009 Photos

Randy Purcell About the writer Bob Karlovits can be reached via e-mail or at 412-320-7852. Randy Purcell attacked jazz performance and education with the same zest that marked his heyday as a powerhouse trombonist with the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra. Mr. Purcell, 62, a mainstay in the Pittsburgh jazz scene for many years, died of complications from diabetes Saturday, May 16, 2009. "He had chops for days," said fellow trombonist Nelson Harrison, talking about a strength that let him play loud and long. "When he was playing, he took no prisoners." Harrison will lead a 14-piece ensemble at Monday's Sewickley Memorial Day Parade, one he and Purcell assembled for years. This year Harrison is calling it the Randy Purcell Memorial Band. Mr. Purcell, of West Mifflin, was the son of bandleader Jack Purcell. He started playing trombone at Overbrook Grade School and then at Carrick High School. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1968 with a degree in trombone performance. He played with the Sy Zentner, Glenn Miller and Fred Waring orchestras, as well as the Navy Commodores, but the peak of his touring career came in the early '70s when he was with screech trumpet legend Ferguson's band. He had a well-known solo on "Chameleon," one of the band's hits, and on "The Way We Were" and "Feelings," a song for which Mr. Purcell wrote the arrangement. Tony Mowod, jazz host on WDUQ 90.5-FM, remembers talking to Ferguson about Mr. Purcell and how he said "he was one of the best trombone players he ever had in his band." Mr. Purcell decided to quit touring in the late '70s and returned to Pittsburgh, where he headed the Carnegie Mellon jazz program for a time. He then became a stockbroker and did a variety of musical jobs. As well as playing in groups he assembled, he appeared as a guest star at area events and with community orchestras. Mowod said he helped put together the Pittsburgh Jazz Society's Student Big Band 18 years ago. "He was always trying to help people out," Mowod said. "He had such a good attitude." Mr. Purcell is survived by his parents, Jack and Jeanne Purcell of Brookline; son, Shawn Purcell of Champaign, Ill.; brother, Rick Purcell of Mt. Lebanon; and sister, Leslie Upchurch of West New York, N.J. Viewing will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Heard Funeral Home, 4047 Perrysville Ave., Observatory Hill. A service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 799 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. The family suggests donations be made to the Randy Purcell Trombone Scholarship at Duquesne University. Randy Purcell's viewing hours and location are as follows: Friday May 22, 2009 2pm - 4pm and 6pm - 8pm Heard Funeral Home 4047 Perrysville Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15214 (412) 931-0200

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Comment by Ed Skirtich on May 21, 2009 at 12:57am
Hi All,

I called Heard Funeral Home and they said they don't know anything about Randy Purcell.

My Mom and I are dear friends of Randy and would like to know all the accurate info. on the correct info. on where Randy will be laid out and at what funeral home.

Please contact me ASAP on all the proper info.

Ed Skirtich
(412) 422-4149 (H)
(412) 841-8046 (C)

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