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

Memory of Mike Taylor [Poem by Michael Dennison]

[Poem by Michael Dennison]

A spring day, rain for the grass
puts the green on the table and evenings of late sun
and then the History Channel
time in a man’s life to ripen, to pass

as June crawls in with a birthday, stands up
like green corn on the stalk, fresh and wide open
to a good joke, the promise of a late show loaded with guests,
with irony gentle, universal as night

and June struts into July. Fireworks churn
in endless blue dusk of heaven as steaks char at the grill.
As certain as morning, there’s time
for some more good coffee with cream.

Sky comes to earth with sun and rain, comes for roses
and a cold drink of water from the well.
So the air buzzes with waves of talk radio
all day, so the necessary fly dies by nightfall.

Mike says take your own time, the bass register
is mine.
The little clocks? Doesn’t matter
what they say, only the great clock counts
and no man born can really read the time.

Autumn has promises of its own, bronze and rust,
amber chamber music bittersweet as russets.
A slow finality, lonely, you hear a train
as you close windows and doors to rest.
It’s a hard drive in snow along the bluffs from sixty-five
and even the good Ford wants to stall, cover up, and sleep,
as tires crunch ice on snow, crack the code to asphalt
soft as divorce, hard as a father’s love.

At the top of the hill tired and bowed by the new year,
he gets out, stares down the icebound curve of river
thinks about you, me, hungry doves and the hard road down.
How we share is the true measure of love.

And as all things break, the cold breaks
as one hand turns the window latch and two lift the frame.
First one window and then more windows open as
Mike says take your own time, the bass register is mine.

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Comment by Anicet Mundundu on February 10, 2009 at 8:23pm
It is hard to believe that he has been gone! I miss him (the doctor) a lot.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on February 10, 2009 at 3:48pm
This is beautiful and true. I try to listen to some Mike Taylor bass daily. Always keep him in my car. He still teaches me.
Comment by Elizabeth "Betty" Asche Douglas on February 10, 2009 at 12:16pm
Your poem is a masterpiece for a master. I knew Mike (and the Taylor family as a whole) throughout his life. Our homes were only 7 minutes apart, he in Bridgewater, I in Rochester here in Beaver County. I worked with him on a fairly regular basis, sometimes as a bass/vocal duo. He commanded the bass register in a Betty Douglas & Friends concert at the Butler County Community College just a week before his untimely demise.
I sang at his memorial service and accepted his awards on his selection to the Pittsburgh Jazz Society Hall of Fame and in his honor at the Beaver County Musicians Hall of Fame. I miss him, his wry smile, offbeat sense of humor, and the chuckling vocalizations he made while doing all those sweet things with the bass that was a part of his very being.
Comment by George Heid on February 10, 2009 at 4:04am
Mike... you are so missed.
Comment by Paul Thompson on February 10, 2009 at 3:00am
Yes!! The bass register was his.

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