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

Legendary Blues Alley jazz club boasts Pittsburgh flavor



WASHINGTON, DC-- The first time I ever heard of Blues Alley in Washington, DC, was as a performer with the Al Dowe Quintet. Dowe, a Pittsburgh trombonist/bandleader, had performed there and often spoke favorably of the world-famous jazz club.

Thirty years later, on a recent Tuesday night, I finally visited Blues Alley.

The club is quite quaint and holds just about 120 people, comfortably.

On this warm September evening, I caught the first of two shows featuring locally- acclaimed keyboardist, Kevin Toney, formerly of The Blackbyrds.

The club's menu also provided an unexpected Pittsburgh flavor, including several menu items named for legendary Pittsburgh musicians such as Stanley Turrentine's crab cakes; Phyllis Hyman's stuffed shrimp and Ahmad Jamal's pasta with pesto.

Overall, the club has a uniquely private ambiance reminiscent of famous New York City jazz clubs ala Smalls Paradise, Cecil's in West Orange and the still-thriving, Blue Note Cafe.

Blues Alley remains one of the nation's oldest jazz rooms; having opened its doors in 1965 - just three years prior to the riots of 1968, a backlash following the April 4 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Through it all, the club has managed to swing - still booking some of the world's top-notch jazz musicians. Roy Ayers, Stanley Clarke, Rachelle Farrell, Stanley Jordan and Roy Hargrove are all booked for fall 2013.

The Kevin Toney 3 trio, provided a classical-jazz backdrop, with support of Spyra Gyro members Lee Pearson on drums and Scott Ambush on bass.

Toney remains a DC favorite son, having studied under the late Donald Byrd at Howard University prior to joining Byrd's Blackbyrds in the early 1970s.

On this humid September night, Toney mostly displayed his classical side, in addition to a moving tribute to Scott Joplin, while performing "The Entertainer." The group also played "Walkin In Rhythm" for folks (like me) who yearned for little more of a funky groove on a Tuesday evening. Former BET-TV personality Angela Stribling also took in the performance. 

Stribling is now a radio deejay on WHUR's Quiet Storm and a on-air TV personality in the DC market. She also enjoys a career as a jazz vocalist and sings at venues such as The Blue Note and Blues Alley.

In my opinion, however, I still think Kevin Toney should consider offering a more funkier, smooth-jazz set considering his renown background in the funk-fusion realm. I'm certain he'd attract a larger more enthusiastic following should he funkify his set-list, just a tad.

Meanwhile, you should consider making the five-hour drive from Western Pa. on a fall weekend to experience the Georgetown restaurant scene while attending the legendary Blues Alley jazz club, just off the 1700 block of Wisconsin Avenue.

You'll not be disappointed.

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Comment by J. Malls on October 9, 2013 at 2:07am

I want to try Ahmad Jamal Pasta & Pesto!

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