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

As I sit here in the early hours of the morning I still can't get over the passing of my close friend and bandmate Richard "Dick" Vitalie. Yes folks I am a musician as well but I don't sit in as a vocalist or percussionist with folks here for many reasons. Lack of talent is definately not one of them. His going home service is today.

I was a member of Stick Against Stone back in the early 80's while I took a short leave from WYEP. I was asked to join the band at the urging of Dick, the late John Creighton and other band members. I sang, played percussion and also played trombone and trumpet. The band was actually the "first" world beat band from Pittsburgh. We never got a big recording contract, we were all activists. I helped organize Rock Against Racism events here in Pittsburgh and also the Rock Against Reagan tour.

About three months ago, Richard had moved back east after living in the Bay Area for over 20 years. We played together in Indiana, PA a few days before he moved to Brooklyn. It was like we had never stopped playing together. I hadn't touched any instruments in over 6 years. We were in synch just like that. Many of you know that feeling. Recently we had started talking about a studio project that would have been a reunion of the band. Over the last three years a lot of us have part of the documentary being done about John Creighton that Will Kreft is working on. I am going to miss my friend on this side but he will always be with us.

Richard Anthony Vitale, 51, percussionist, activist, artist and actor, formerly of Indiana, died in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a memorial service at 11 a.m. , July 24 at the Bence-Mihalcik Funeral Home, Indiana, with the Rev. George Hnatko officiating. Interment will be private.

Subsequent memorials will be held at the Temple Methodist Church, 65 Beverly St., San Francisco, in August with exact dates to be decided; and at the Yippie Caf©, 9 Bleaker St., Greenwich Village, New York City, at 6 p.m. Aug. 28.

Donations are requested to the Universal Roots Music Organization, c/o Rudy Mwongonzi, 1407 Fulton St., Apt. 4L, Brooklyn, NY 11216, and will create a scholarship in Richard's name for the benefit of young musicians.

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