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

Get your arts fix in Pittsburgh

EMMY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR DENZEL WASHINGTON was in Pittsburgh, Sept. 26, 2018 to announce $5 million in fundraising efforts to help restore the iconic August Wilson House on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District. Also pictured is Terri Baltimore, left, with the Hill House Association, and award-winning playwright Mark Clayton Southers. (Photo by Emmai Alaquiva/Courier File)

Pittsburgh’s art scene has a legacy of highlighting and celebrating diversity that goes back decades—from the establishment of the country’s first Black opera company in the 1940s to the recent announcement of the Pittsburgh Paints Art Initiative. This history allows art fans in Pittsburgh to better understand the impact and contributions of artists of color throughout history.

Although the contributions of artists of color were often overlooked throughout history, Pittsburgh recognizes and celebrates this aspect of its culture. That makes it easy for residents and visitors alike to learn more about what these artists have brought to Pittsburgh and the entire U.S. through their artistic prowess. 

From the Past

Pittsburgh has always had an outsized place in shaping the history of the U.S., dating back to the country’s earliest days. The same goes for the city’s place in the art world and noting the works of artists of color, especially Black artists.

For example, take August Wilson. The prolific playwright created some of the most lauded works in American theater, including Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Today, his life and work are remembered at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson African American Cultural Center. The center highlights Wilson’s legacy and new artists and exhibitions that detail the challenges, culture, and triumphs of the Black community in Pittsburgh and beyond. This year, the center opened August Wilson: The Writer’s Landscape, the first-ever permanent exhibition dedicated to Wilson exploring Pittsburgh and its inhabitants.

In 1941, Mary Cardwell Dawson organized and launched the National Negro Opera Company. The opera hosted performances for more than 20 years in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago. Although the company was disbanded after Dawson’s death in 1962, its legacy lives on as the first-ever Black opera company in the U.S. 

To the Present

The city’s thriving jazz scene is arguably the most prominent of Pittsburgh’s art forms from the past that lives on today. The city was a popular stopping point for jazz artists in the early 20th century, with businessman and athlete Sellers McKee Hall working as the city’s first Black music promoter. He brought some of the biggest names in jazz to the city, drawing crowds of thousands.

Pittsburgh’s bars and clubs continue this legacy today, with some of today’s performers inheriting their talents directly from their ancestors who first put Pittsburgh on the jazz map. Every year, the city hosts the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival to recognize this history and celebrate the artists of the present. The event is held every September and brings world-renowned musicians to the city.

Continuing the tradition of talented Black playwrights, local director, producer, and playwright Mark Clayton Southers formed the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company in 2003. Serving as a resident company in some of Pittsburgh’s most famous theaters, you can see the group’s 2022 shows at the Trust Arts Education Center and the August Wilson House in Pittsburgh.

Into the Future

Earlier this year, Pittsburgh’s First Lady, Michelle Gainey, announced a new initiative that continues to celebrate diversity in the arts. Pittsburgh Paints will exhibit art pieces in key, high-profile locations the city’s mayor, Ed Gainey, visits. The pieces will rotate each month and feature a theme dedicated to Pittsburgh’s diverse voices and local artists. 

Plus, organizations like Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh award hundreds of thousands in grant money every year. The money funds the work of individual artists and collectives focused on topics like postpartum Black mothers, recognizing Afro-Indigenous women and artists with disabilities, and producing a full-length ballet to traditional African music.

The program also funds two scholarships for students pursuing advanced degrees in arts management.

The arts community in Pittsburgh has a wealth of legendary talent who continue to shape its identity.

Views: 10


You need to be a member of Pittsburgh Jazz Network to add comments!

Join Pittsburgh Jazz Network

© 2022   Created by Dr. Nelson Harrison.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service