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

Professor Kenny Burrell, Renowned Jazz Guitarist Reaches Out -

Facing Homelessness And Crushing Medical Debt, A Renowned Jazz Guitarist Reaches Out

Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, in an undated photo.

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

One of the jazz world's most enduring artists, the influential 87-year-old guitarist and composer Kenny Burrell, is facing financial ruin and homelessness.

His plight became public after his wife, Katherine Burrell, launched a GoFundMe page on May 9, in which she chronicled a number of overwhelming circumstances that the couple is currently navigating. In her telling, the couple has faced a cataclysmic series of misfortunes — including substantial ongoing medical expenses after a 2016 accident, identity theft and ongoing litigation involving the home owners association group in their community — that has brought them to the brink.

"We are facing possible foreclosure and homelessness," Katherine Burrell wrote, adding: "It saddens and embarrasses me to desperately need and request help, but it is necessary at this point." The page's initial fundraising goal was $100,000; as of Tuesday morning, donations totaled almost $145,000.

Burrell, who was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2005, made his first professional recording in 1951 with Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Percy Heath and Milt Jackson. Since then, he has recorded hundreds of albums, including nearly one hundred as a bandleader in a discography that spans across the Blue Note, Prestige, Savoy, Columbia, Verve, Fantasy and Concord labels, among others.

But as the Burrells' dire stated needs became public last week, questions quickly arose in the jazz community about the veracity of the GoFundMe effort. On Friday, the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) — a national nonprofit that exists in part to provide emergency funding to jazz, blues and roots artists struggling with housing or medical care — felt compelled to issue a statement regarding Katherine Burrell's campaign.

"We would like to assure anyone concerned about Kenny that this campaign was indeed created by Katherine on his behalf," the JFA wrote. "The Jazz Foundation has been in contact with Katherine for months. ... Kenny and Katherine had been dealing with this situation alone for several years, because, as always, musicians are proud and self-reliant and do things on their own. They did not even contact us to ask for help but were referred by friends. The Jazz Foundation assessed the case, conferred with other helping organizations, and reviewed documents attesting to the financial need described in the GoFundMe post. We couldn't possibly cover the full scope of the need, and other sources of funding were explored, including a GoFundMe campaign, given how successful and lifesaving they have proven for fellow musicians. As we can see in this outpouring of love for Kenny and Katherine, it has worked."

The JFA also linked the Burrells' situation to those being faced by other elder artists. "This is a painful but inspiring example of what we see every day at the Jazz Foundation," the JFA wrote. "Many of our legends do not have a partner at home to help them. ... This is why the organization exists, and we handle 30 emergency cases every day."

Last September, UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music announced that it had received a gift of $1.2 million to create a Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies, which was funded by a group of over 150 donors. The timing was meant to celebrate Burrell's 85th birthday, as well as his 20-year tenure as director of UCLA's jazz studies program.

UCLA has issued a statement to NPR, saying: "UCLA was unaware of Katherine Burrell's crowdfunding activity on behalf of herself and husband, Kenny. UCLA is concerned and is looking into the circumstances of this matter. Kenny Burrell is a Distinguished Professor of Music and Global Jazz Studies at UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. Professor Burrell is currently on sabbatical, and is scheduled to return to UCLA for the Spring Quarter in March 2020. He remains a full-time faculty member with related compensation and health benefits."

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