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

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh now has a web page devoted to bandleader and businessman Joe Westray (1913-1980).

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Comment by Timothy R. Williams on February 27, 2012 at 3:33pm

Jerry and Dr. Harrison, thanks for your comments and further adding to the story of how important of a mentor Joe Westray was to the Pittsburgh jazz scene.

Comment by SOUTHSIDE JERRY MELLIX on February 24, 2012 at 3:26pm

I can remember in 1963, I was 16 yr. and playing with a local band called, "Little Willie Beck & The Crossfires.  We were offered a spot at The Stanley Theater as the opening act for Lee Dorsey, Derek Martin and I think Garnet Mimms.  We were not union members when the call came but with Joe Westray's help we got signed and did the gig.  After that, some of us would visit Westray Plaza and tried to sit-in on some of the 'cats' in the jam session.  I rarily got to do that.   But more often we would just listen to Joe talk about the business behind show business.   I attribute, in part, the reason I'm still active in music today, is because of he took time to tutor a couple of young guys on how things really work on and off the stage.  I think you'd get the same response if you could ask some the guys(Joe 'Chipper' Gray(bass) - Andrew Boyd(guitar) and the late Donald Jackson(bass)) that were there with me; those too few days.  There were more than a few people, back then, that would make time for me and other young players.  Guys like 'Honey Boy', 'Bumpty' and others.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on February 24, 2012 at 1:55am

I played with Joe Westray from 1962 until his death in 1980 upon which I was a pallbearer.  I played with multiple other bands during that period but was always a first call from Joe if I were available.  He was a great musician, leader, businessman, mentor and friend.  One of his favorite sayings was, "If you can play my book, you can play with anyone in the world."  I found this to be quite true.

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