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

Maxine Sullivan and Ritter Place, Bronx, New York

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Comment by Paula Morris on September 2, 2014 at 10:58pm

Yes, I love that photo. I'm not sure if I was born when that was taken but I have great memories and stories about these legends...especially remembering Mary Lou Williams. She was a close friend and I remember her calling the house very often.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 2, 2014 at 10:35pm


You must feel quite at home on this network with your mother's photo on the wallpaper.  I hope so.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 2, 2014 at 10:33pm

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on September 2, 2014 at 10:32pm

Community Board Approves Naming Street for Local Jazz Legend

By Eddie Small on June 12, 2014 4:03pm 

 Community Board 3 approved naming Ritter Place between Prospect and Union Avenues after jazz singer and community activist Maxine Sullivan. Community Board 3 approved naming Ritter Place between Prospect and Union Avenues after jazz singer and community activist Maxine Sullivan.View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MORRISANIA — Legendary jazz singerMaxine Sullivan spent more than 40 years of her life in Morrisania, and Community Board 3 now hopes to pay tribute to her music and her activism by naming a neighborhood street in her honor.

The board approved co-naming Ritter Place between Prospect and Union avenues "Maxine Sullivan Way" following a heartfelt speech from Sullivan's daughter, Harlem resident Paula Morris. She stressed that her mother, who passed away in 1987, was more than an entertainer.

"Yes, she was a great jazz singer with three Grammys [nominations], one Tony nomination," she said, "but her main commitment was to the community."

Morris paid special attention to what her mother did for children in Morrisania, which included having them take a census to help them get to know the neighborhood better.

"This also helped us to communicate with each other and to also know that not only were your parents looking after you, but the neighbors were looking after you, too," she said. "So you had to be careful what you did."

Sullivan was born in Homestead, Penn. on May 13, 1911 and began her singing career in Pittsburgh with pianist Claude Thornhill and his band. She recorded her first songs in 1937, including a version of the hit Scottish folk song "Loch Lomond," and moved to 818 Ritter Place in the Bronx in 1945.

"Loch Lomond" has been described as Sullivan's biggest hit, but it was far from her only accomplishment. She also learned how to play the flugelhorn and trombone.

She also appeared in several movies and Broadway shows throughout her career as well, receiving a Tony nomination in 1979 for her performance in "My Old Friends," a musical about aging.

In the early 1970s, she founded a non-profit organization called The House That Jazz Built on Stebbins Avenue, which rented rooms to musicians, provided music lessons for children, gave space to local arts groups and put on concerts and workshops.

Mark Naison, founder of the Bronx African American History Project, praised the project because Morrisania was suffering from arson and other issues at the time.

"In the midst of these tragedies, she opened a storefront youth center on Stebbins Avenue called 'The House That Jazz Built,' where she offered musical instruction, academic support and a safe zone for neighborhood young people," he said. "Entirely financed through her own efforts, the House That Jazz Built was a support of inspiration to Morrisania youth at a very difficult time."

Morris ended her presentation at the meeting with a quote from one of her old teachers about her mom.

"If anyone speaks about your mother," she said, "mention should not only be made about the fact that she was a great jazz singer but also her deep involvement in the life of the community and its betterment."

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