[JPL] Jazz Foundation fundraiser celebrates American music

Jazz Promo Services jazzpromo at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 11 07:26:29 EDT 2007


Jazz Foundation fundraiser celebrates American music
Sun Jun 10, 2007 5:11PM EDT
By Dan Ouellette

NEW YORK (Billboard) - For the past six years, the New York-based Jazz
Foundation of America has presented its A Great Night in Harlem benefit
concert at New York's Apollo Theater.

Each affair attracts a range of musical stars and features high-water
surprises, such as spunky Chicago blues singer Johnnie Mae Dunson Smith, who
last year ripped into a short set from her wheelchair. However, the shows
have often seemed disjunctive and hastily thrown together.

Not so this year. On May 17 the JFA fundraiser offered a well-choreographed
and largely successful attempt to provide an overview of the last 200-plus
years of popular music. The roots-bent show opened with African traditional
music, continued through the blues and then focused on different eras of
jazz, from early New Orleans music to swing to bebop to today's young

Highlights included Dr. John and Henry Butler together delivering samplings
of early jazz piano, pianist Arturo O'Farrill collaborating with conguero
Candido on a Latin jazz romp, and drummer Roy Haynes blasting off solo.
Plus, once again, the feisty, wheelchair-bound Dunson Smith returned for the
blues jam finale that also featured JFA executive director Wendy Oxenhorn on
spitfire harmonica.

The concert and preshow dinner raised more than $1.5 million for the
organization that has been aiding elderly jazz and blues musicians with
rent, medical care and social services for the past 18 years. JFA
experienced a post-Hurricane Katrina spike in service, assisting more than
2,500 musicians with emergency housing, mortgage payments, musical
instruments and a $1 million employment program.

On the pre-show red carpet outside the Apollo, actor Danny Glover, one of
the concert's hosts, said, "When I was young, we had all kinds of music in
our house, particularly jazz. Now it's time to honor these classic musicians
who were out there, day in and day out, night in and night out."

Paul Shaffer, the "Late Show With David Letterman" bandleader, who played
keyboards at the event, added, "Jazz is a great art form created by
musicians who are now older and need help."

Key financial supporters of JFA's mission and executive producers of the
benefit were Dr. Agnes Varis, founder/president of Aegis Pharmaceuticals,
and R. Jarrett Lilien, president/COO of E*Trade Financial.


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