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

This letter was rejected by the local mainstream print media.


To the Editor:


( “Obituary: Max Roach/Innovative jazz drummer” Friday, August 17, 2007). Max Roach loved Pittsburgh. It was one of his favorite jazz towns. That’s what he told his fans who came out to  a sunday evening reception in early 1982. The tribute was sponsored by Jazz Monday at the old Pyramid Lounge on North Highland Avenue in East Liberty.

            Back then, former Pittsburgh city councilman Sala Udin was the director of the House of the Crossroads, a Hill District drug rehab program. Jazz Monday was a fundraising project for the Crossroads.

            Max talked informally about the history and sociology of “The Music.” He reminisced about the Crawford Grill, the Ellis Hotel and other places where he had played in the city over the years. He paid tribute to Pittsburgh artists Bobby Boswell, Stanley Turrentine, and Tommy Turrentine who played in one of his 1960s ensembles, and also to Kenny Fisher another Pittsburgh musician who played with him in the 1970s.

            The following night, the Pittsburgh Jazz All-Stars, including Joe Harris on drums and Nelson Hairston on trombone, open a Jazz Monday concert at Carnegie Hall which  featured the Max Roach Quartet in an unforgettable evening of “The Music.”

            Later, Sala  told the Jazz Monday board that after the concert Max Roach made a contribution to the Crossroads’ project.

            Six years later, the Max Roach Quartet gave a stellar performance in  August  1988 at the Harambee II Black Arts Festival in Homewood. Max performed for a nominal fee to help promote African American art and culture. Harambee board member Gail Austin said she had tried to apologize to Max for the neighborhood kids who rode their bikes through the festival area during the concert. In reply, Max said never-no-mind; he was elated to play a major jazz concert in the heart of the black community with young folks present.

            Several years later, Max gave a workshop at the Frick International Studies Academy in Oakland. On four different occasions, four different people told me the workshop was almost too good to be true, too positive to really be real. In the words of Duke Ellington, it was “Beyond Category.”

            A former Frick teacher, Constance Bailey said Max’s rapport with the students was unbelievable. Pittsburgh educator Dr. Stanley Denton said you had to be there to witness it to appreciate the beauty of the workshop. Dr. Wallace Woodard, another educator, said Max took the simple three-note melody of Ellington’s “C Jam Blues” and by the end of the workshop all of the students were swinging and jamming, both on time and in tune. Wallace said he was almost moved to tear; Connie Bailey said the very same thing. Much later, the former principal of Frick, Ernestine Reed told me that everything I had been told about the workshop, and more, was true. She said it was “marvelous.”

            This is how Max Roach the legendary musician, the consummate teacher, and committed social activist is remembered in Pittsburgh by some of the  people he loved.


Fred Logan

Homewood Brushton

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Comment by Stan Gilmer on November 18, 2014 at 9:34am

She was his wife.

Comment by Christopher Dean Sullivan on November 18, 2014 at 9:33am

" The following night, the Pittsburgh Jazz All-Stars, including Joe Harris on drums and Nelson Harrison on trombone, open a Jazz Monday concert at Carnegie Hall which  featured the Max Roach Quartet in an unforgettable evening of “The Music.”...This was a night I will never forget. It was during the time I had the "Tree of Arts Alive" program on Pittsburgh Cable. I video taped the performance of Max Roach, Odean Pope, Cecil Bridgewater, and Calvin Hill. They were performing a composition written by Billy Harper, entitled, "Call of The Wild". I actually video taped the series during that time Max was there, for my TV series.


Comment by Pgh Rich on November 18, 2014 at 7:28am

Why do I associate Abby Lincoln with Max Roach ??????

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