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

Master drummer Michael Carvin beats his path to greatness

Drummer Michael Carvin says there is no real mystery about why so many great drummers have come from Pittsburgh.

He looks at a hard-working city, where success is never guaranteed, and says that simply creates an attitude that demands a high level of effort.

"It wasn't that the city produced great drummers," he says. "Rather, they were simply great people who played drums."

Carvin, who runs the Michael Carvin School of Drumming in New York City, will be here Saturday for a workshop, panel discussion and solo concert sponsored by the African American Jazz Preservation Society of Pittsburgh.

The event is a celebration of June's Black Music Month by the group that promotes jazz as well as fosters the memory of Local 471 of the American Federation of Musicians. That was known as the "black musicians union," which was merged with Local 60 in 1968.

Carvin, 64, a Houston native, has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody and Jackie McLean, but now says he does only about 10 dates a year, preferring to focus on his teaching.

With humility and some pride, he says he prefers the title "master drummer" because of his concentration on the skill of the playing. That is far different from being "the kind of great drummer who everybody knows because he leads a band."

The key to his work with students is building around what he believes should be everyone's mantra: "Each one, teach one." By passing on knowledge and skills, he says, talents can be honed and arts strengthened.

He also says he tries not to teach students to imitate his manner because he wants them to develop their own skills.

"None of my students sound like me and none of them sound the same," he adds. His school, which has been open since 1970, has produced drummers such as Pittsburgh native Poogie Bell, Nasheet Waits and Marcus Baylor from the Yellowjackets.

Carvin says that type of individuality is what has created the long legacy of Pittsburgh jazz drummers such as Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Joe Harris, Roger Humphries and Jeff "Tain" Watts.

He thinks their guidance and education developed in them the strength to be great at whatever they would have done. Part of that greatness includes the ability to see the proper direction, and that led them to the sticks.

But greatness can go other ways, too, Carvin adds. When he was with the 89th Infantry in Vietnam, he met George Suranovich (1944-90), the Pittsburgh drummer who performed with such stars as Eric Burdon and Mose Allison.

Suranovich let Carvin sit in at a session and led him to a position in an Army band, which removed him from combat.

"So he probably saved my life," Carvin says. "Can't get too much greater than that."

Master drummer Michael Carvin beats his path to greatness
By Bob Karlovits, TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Black Music Month Celebration
When: Saturday

• 10 a.m.: Drum clinic at the African American Music Institute, 7131 Hamilton Ave., Homewood

• 3 p.m.: Panel discussion on Pittsburgh's great drummers at the New Hazlett Theater, Allegheny Square East, North Side

• 4 p.m.: Reception, film screening at the Hazlett

• 6 p.m.: Solo drum concert by Michael Carvin at the Hazlett

Admission: Concert is $10; all other events are free.

Details: 412-867-1721

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