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

Sun Ra: Lanquidity (Strut)

A review of the late composer and bandleader's classic 1978 album, reissued on an expanded four-LP reissue

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Sun Ra: LanquidityThe cover of Lanquidity by Sun Ra.

Did you know Sun Ra appeared on Saturday Night Live? It’s true. On May 20, 1978, comedy lifer Buck Henry introduced Ra and his “jazz-from-another-planet Arkestra” at 30 Rock. What transpired then—in zonked performances of “Space Is the Place” and “Space Loneliness”—was a brief glitch in the mainframe where magic shone through.

Two months later, the Arkestra set up at Bob Blank’s Blank Tapes in New York City and jammed semi-freely. The amoebic results became 1978’s Lanquidity: “liquidity” meets “languidity.” If Ra were as popular as fellow SNL guests Dua Lipa or Harry Styles, it would have been hailed as a classic. Instead, it mostly languished in obscurity, a rare find on vinyl—until now.

For jazz fans unfamiliar with Ra, Lanquidity’s vibe is somewhere between Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady—where a big band hangs on a precipice—and Les McCann’s snaking, mystical Invitation to Openness. “There were horn charts, but most tracks came out of improvised jams,” Blank recalls in the press release. “Sun Ra just did his thing.”

This four-LP reissue blows the dust off of that thing, packaging a thick, plummy remaster with alternate mixes. Now, creative music fans can envisage a world in which “Where Pathways Meet” and “Twin Stars of Thence” didn’t fade like mist, but permeated pop culture. Maybe getting this music back in people’s hands is that first, small step.

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