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

New film on Pittsburgh's rich jazz history to premiere Feb. 15 on WQED

New film on Pittsburgh's rich jazz history to premiere Feb. 15 on WQED

Shirley McMarlin
| Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, 11:45 a.m.

A documentary film about Pittsburgh's rich jazz music history will premiere on Feb. 15 on WQED-TV.

The MCG Jazz program of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild has produced "We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told," a 60-minute documentary that will premiere at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 and will rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Feb. 18.

The film explores the social conditions and historical events that came together to make Pittsburgh a leading contributor to the legacy of jazz music worldwide, according to a press release.

It features interviews, historical photographs and more than 20 live performance clips of jazz masters like George Benson, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams and others — all Pittsburghers.

"The film was produced for a general audience and captures the spirit of a distinctly American art form, the character of a regional locale, and the soul of a hardy and determined people," according to the press release.

"It's one of the great cultural stories of this city, and it has now been told," said Bill Strickland, president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp., of which MCG is a subsidiary.

MCG Jazz executive producer Marty Ashby produced the film with writer and director Jeff Sewald. Support was provided by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, McCune Foundation, Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania and UPMC Health Plan.

"This film explores the rightful ancestry and cultural significance of jazz music in Pittsburgh and properly acknowledges its unique contributions to jazz history," Ashby said.

"We Knew What We Had" will be distributed by American Public Television, with presenting station WQED Multimedia, for broadcast on television locally, nationally and internationally. The film will also be entered into national and international film festivals and presented via other public and private screenings.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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