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

Kenny Fisher plays with the angels; Pittsburgh jazz icon passes at 69

The New Pittsburgh Courier Written by Christian Morrow - Courier Staff Writer Thursday, 05 November 2009 13:12 Kenny Fisher didn’t talk much, but his saxophone spoke volumes to those lucky enough to have heard him play. “Fish,” as his friends called him, was one of the last links to Pittsburgh’s heyday as a jazz mecca—he knew everyone and played everywhere; the Loendi Club, the Hurricane and the old Crawford Grill. On Oct. 25, after a lengthy battle with cancer, Fisher played his last solo, he was 69. KennyFisherQuintet1970

BACK IN THE DAY—The Kenny Fisher Quintet, from left: Jesse Kemp, pianist; Wade Powell, trumpet; Tony Fountain, drummer, percussionist; Howard Russell, bassist, deceased; and Kenny Fisher. A renowned tenor sax player, who took his quartet to Europe, the Caribbean, and New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Fisher grew up in the Hill District, attending Weil Elementary School and Schenley High School. As a teen he would hang outside the Crawford Grill, listening to the greats like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Later, he honed his craft from musicians playing on the street, and by studying with seasoned players at the Musicians Club in the Lower Hill. Long-time friend Fred Logan recalled seeing Fisher play with Max Roach at the old Diplomat Lounge in East Liberty in the early 1970s. Afterwards, he left Pittsburgh and performed with Roach’s ensemble in Washington, D.C. “Fish was ‘folks.’ He was for real,” said Logan. “In 2000, Fish gave a birthday party for himself at the Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum and invited everyone to come—it looked like almost everyone did. The party was great. Fish was for real, and that’s the truth.” And the man who played with style, went out in style—with a full New Orleans jazz funeral procession at Mt. Gilead Church in Wilkinsburg, Nov. 2. Psychologist and musician Nelson Harrison was among those who sang Fisher to his rest.

KENNY FISHER “We gave him a tribute fitting a great musician and a great friend,” he said. “Walls can’t stop music, it reaches beyond. I know Fish was smiling at us. He’s up there now playing with Coltrane, playing with the angels. So, it was a wonderful day.” Joining Harrison, who played his trombetto, were tenor sax players Calvin Stemley, Carl Jackson, Lou Stellute, Walt Lowry, trumpeters Ed Skirtich and David Blane, trombonist Carl King, bassist Don Wasson, keyboard player Spencer Bey, vocalist Brian Wright and drummers Roger Humphries, Other performers included Dr. Kenan Foley, Harold Lee, George Heid, Sr., Richard Taylor and Tim Stevens, who played piano and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” Pitt professor, friend and fellow sax player Nathan Davis did not attend the funeral, preferring to remember Fisher “the way I saw him, to remember him as happy.” “It’s a real blow. We were close,” said Davis. “He was one of the first guys to befriend me when I came here. He was a great player and just a beautiful guy.” Davis and Fisher played together in the Pitt Jazz Band and later the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, and Davis said Fisher always made time to attend his jazz seminars and help out students. “He was a great musician, I mean he could play. And he was always helpful and open to anything I was doing,” said Davis. “He was just a quiet dignified guy. I never heard him say anything negative about anyone. This year’s seminar just won’t be the same because he was always there. He’ll be missed.” One of those who’ll miss him is disc jockey and event producer Kevin Amos, who first met Fisher as a youth in Homewood. “I have known Kenny since I was a teenager. I have always looked to him as one of our Jazz Messengers and I don’t think he ever got the recognition he deserved,” said Amos. “He had a sound of his own, you knew it was him playing. He was an elder statesman, an outstanding musician, a good friend and I’m going to miss him and that smile he would always have.” Following the service, Fisher was interred at Greenwood Cemetery in O’Hara Township. (Send comments to cmorrow

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