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

Who were these veritable gentlemen who in the early 1950's promoted jazz gigs with artists like Charlie Parker at venues such as the Syria Mosque?

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Comment by Roberta Jean Windle on September 23, 2017 at 3:04pm

What a great life and wonderful memories.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on December 12, 2012 at 12:01am

There were several but the main person was Norman Granz who regularly brought his Jazz at the Philharmonic to Syria Mosque beginning in the late 1940s.  I still have a program from the one I attended from 1954 that featured Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Jo Jones, Stan Getz, Ray Brown, etc.  I waited at the stage door with my program and pencil and received autographs from Oscar Peterson, Dizzy, Jo Jones and John Lewis.  I was only 13 years old.


There was another show I attended bout a year later that brought the West Coast jazz contingency in the person of Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker to Syria Mosque.  I still believe that it was the best of the large auditoriums in Pittsburgh.  The Pittsburgh Symphony was housed there and there were many operas, ballets and even the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus performed there.  I played there several times for shows from Dionne Warwicke,  Broadway's "Raisin,' and also with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony.  My first performance there was in 1955 as Principal trombonist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Junior.  I still miss the place.

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