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

Pittsburgh's Blues Orphans passionate about singing the Yinzer blues

Amie Santavicca
Working out at a rehearsal are Blues Orphans, from left, Nelson Harrison, Andy Gabig, Bob Gabig and Dave Erny.

About Bob Karlovits
Picture Bob Karlovits 412-320-7852
Staff Writer
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Blues Orphans CD release party

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 22

By Bob Karlovits

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Bob and Andy Gabig have been drifting around from club to club for decades like a pair of rootless orphans.

Blues Orphans, to be exact.

“That's what this guy called us once,” Bob Gabig says with a laugh. “Sort of denigrating us. But it was the truth.”

The family size of the orphans varies, and a nine-person group will perform in a CD-release gig Nov. 22 at the James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy in the North Side. They are celebrating the current album, “Hystericana.”

The Blues Orphans are a bit of Yinzer culture that turns hip-hop songs into polkas and “King of the Road” into heavy metal. They also examine the risks of visits to Rivers Casino “ 'cause that's where all the money goes.”

The band always features guitarist Bob and his brother, harmonica player Andy, both from Bellevue. But it sometimes has a horn section of cornetist Mark Custer, trumpeter Ian Gordon, Hill Jordan on trombone and Nelson Harrison, inventor of the trombetto, a trombone-cornet hybrid.

“This is one of the most-fun bands I've ever played in,” Harrison says.

The group at James Street also will feature Dave Yoho on drums, Dave Erny on string bass and Roger Day on tuba.

Bob and Andy agree their music is rooted in the Irish-country-bluegrass fascination of family members. But, they say, they have a deep love of the blues, which they have added to the other sounds.

They say they often go to blues-based clubs and hang around with performers to get ideas and guidance.

“You can learn a lot from those guys just by sitting around and talking,” Bob says

Andy, though, says there is a more-important element to the band.

“Bob's pen is the benchmark of the band,” he says.

Bob says he simply tries to write songs that are fun and have some sort of meaning beyond contemporary compositions.

“People today are writing songs about having an omelet,” he says.

Compositions with a message sometimes have a drawback, Andy says.

“Those songs pass right over the head of some audience members,” he says. “But that's OK.”

Bob says he and Andy started drifting club to club around 1974, providing music whenever they got the chance. It was during one of those sessions that they got the orphans moniker and, about 1983, he says, they decided to form a band instead of being an impromptu duo.

In the early days, the band featured local bluesman Wil E. Tri, who also plays harmonica.

“He and Andy were both learning harmonica then, so they were giving each other lessons and coming at it from different angles,” Bob says. “But then he left. Who needs two harmonica players? But he is like a member of the family.”

Since then, the band has taken on many sizes and shapes. It can be a quartet. Or it can have its horn section.

One thing is always true, Harrison says.

“We love to entertain,” he says. “We are always cracking ourselves up, because we don't know what is going to happen next.”

Bob and Andy work hard to keep the band rooted in Pittsburgh. They don't want to spend time on the road or make the band something marketable by music promoters.

“I love music, but I just hate the music industry,” Bob says.

He has a rather practical reason, too.

“We just like being so down-to-earth, there is little room for us to fall,” he says.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

Read more:
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Views: 83


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

Join Pittsburgh Jazz Network

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on November 28, 2013 at 4:14am

This was not a rehearsal. It was one of our monthly gigs at the Penn Brewery.  The Blues Orphans DO NOT rehearse at all.  Our CDs are all made with first takes as well. New songs are debuted on the job as well.  Our performances are never duplicatable and ALWAYS fun.

Comment by Roberta Windle on November 25, 2013 at 10:46am

The best band in town!

© 2024   Created by Dr. Nelson Harrison.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service