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

Doug Ruffin Reports - Colored Musicians Club Museum

YNN Buffalo Reporter Doug Ruffin talks to the members of The Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo NY as they discuss plans to convert the first floor of the loc...

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Comment by Barry Boyd on December 10, 2011 at 9:04pm


Got your your finger on the pulse doc! I didn't even know about this. I'm in the Burgh this weekend visiting. Boyd Lee Dunlap is a character, his brother is the drum great Frankie Dunlap. Boyd recently survived a gunshot by a disturbed vagrant but can still play his a** off.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on December 9, 2011 at 3:29pm

December 9, 2011

Rhythms Flow as Aging Pianist Finds New Audience


For years, the donated piano sat upright and unused in a corner of the nursing home’s cafeteria. Now and then someone would wheel or wobble over to pound out broken notes on the broken keys, but those out-of-tune interludes were rare. Day after surrendering day, the flawed piano remained mercifully silent.

Then came a new resident, a musician in his 80s with a touch of forgetfulness named Boyd Lee Dunlop, and he could play a little. Actually, he could play a lot, his bony fingers dancing the mad dance of improvised jazz in a way that evoked a long life’s all.

The lean times and the flush. The Saturday night hop and the Sunday morning hymn. Those long drives in a Packard to the next gig. That fine woman Adelaide, oh Adelaide, down in North Carolina. The deaths of a beloved aunt and a difficult marriage. Some things you don’t forget, so Mr. Dunlop keeps a white towel handy to wipe his eyes dry.

And so Mr. Dunlop would have remained, summoning transcendence from a damaged piano in the Delaware Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, his audience a couple of administrators, a few nurses and many patients beset with dementia, loneliness and age — were it not for a chance encounter and some cheesecake.

Instead, Boyd Lee Dunlop, 85, is the featured performer at a concert on Saturday night at the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Buffalo. Admission is $10. And if you want to buy his debut CD, that will cost you another $15.

Sitting at Table 8, guarding the cafeteria piano beside him like a jealous lover, Mr. Dunlop accepts all of this with boastful humility. He thanks God for the talent, shares a few unprintable thoughts, and turns to play a soulful take of “Come Back to Sorrento.”

“I got to be Boyd,” he says, as aides scrape the remnants of pork fried rice from plastic dinner plates. “If I die Boyd, I’m still Boyd.”

Mr. Dunlop arrived at the brown-brick nursing home nearly four years ago, a strong-willed but slightly bent half-note. He had 50 cents in his pocket, too much sugar in his blood, and a need to be around others. He liked to sit in the lobby and greet people, especially the women.

After a while, Mr. Dunlop let it be known that he was a musician. This did not distinguish him in a place where someone might claim to be a retired concert violinist or President Obama’s mother, and, in the first case at least, be telling the truth. Also, music here usually meant something to be endured — the weekly sing-along, say, with a resident armed with his own electric keyboard.

The broken cafeteria piano was a tease that Mr. Dunlop could not resist. He played when no one else was around, between meals, early and late. He learned how to dodge the piano’s flaws, how to elongate the good notes and suffocate the bad.

Nothing like his music had been heard in these cleanser-scented halls. The sounds of Boyd, including the occasional yowl, would flow from the empty cafeteria to greet Kate Wannemacher, the director of nursing, as she arrived early in the morning. “He plays right out of his heart,” she says.

Life kept time to a nursing home’s beat. Breakfast lunch dinner, breakfast lunch dinner, with occasional riffs of bingo, sing-alongs, insulin shots, paranoia, and more bingo. Mr. Dunlop had his bellicose moments, but mostly he was

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