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

Django Reinhardt review - Minor Swing & Beyond the Sea

This weeks artist takes us all the way back to 1930s France, and a man who has astounded the musical world with his skill and innovation in the face of tremendous difficulties. Django Reinhardt was born into gypsy life in 1910, on the outskirts of Paris. Though part of the open air, rambling lifestyle, Django had the soul of a nobleman and a presence that commanded respect. He had an incredible proclivity for music, and at age 12 he received his first guitar. Mimicking musicians hed watched, Django became astonishingly adept at the instrument and by the age of 13 he had started his musical career in outlying Paris cafés and bars.

However, at the age of 18, the caravan he lived in caught fire, trapping him and his first wife. The fire left Django badly scarred on both the right and left side of his body. The bottom two fingers of his left hand were permanently ruined, and his right leg looked as if it needed to be amputated. However, through extreme strength of will, Django persevered, and in spite of his tribulations, he managed to relearn the guitar, creating a new playing style using only the first two fingers of his left hand for both chord play and improvisation.

Django was deeply influenced by jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. Combining their fast paced jazz styles with his own knowledge of French music and gypsy heritage, Django created an entirely new style of jazz music, whos influence can still be felt in todays world. Django was a master of improvisation, rarely playing the same solo twice, and his skill as composer was not far behind. Many of his songs are melodically beautiful and sophisticated.

The first song Id like to introduce was presented in the movie Chocolat. If youve ever seen the movie, then you might remember the scene where Johnny Depp and his river gypsies throw a big party, which eventually ends in a conflagration (maybe as a tribute to Djangos experience many years before). In the scene, Depp starts the party off by grabbing an old guitar and launching into one of Djangos classic songs: Minor Swing. This song might be one of my favorite jazz-guitar songs of all time.

The second song is slower in nature and is Djangos recording of an old Charles Tenet classic, La Mer. It is better known among English audiences as Beyond the Sea, performed by Bobby Darin. Regardless, Djangos rendition is beautiful and moving in its own right, and deserves its own spotlight.

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