[JPL] Tony Bennett donates instruments during Jazz Fest
drjazz at drjazz.com
Fri May 1 09:51:33 EDT 2009
Tony Bennett donates instruments during Jazz Fest
By STACEY PLAISANCE -- 14 hours ago
NEW ORLEANS (AP) --- Jazz crooner Tony Bennett handed out dozens of new
instruments Thursday to students at a charter school founded in the wake
of Hurricane Katrina, hoping the tubas, trumpets and trombones would be
used to carry on New Orleans' vibrant musical tradition.
Meanwhile, the second half of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
got under way.
As Bennett shook hands with students and posed for photographs, some of
the $100,000 worth of instruments were laid out on a table at KIPP
Believe College Prep, a public charter school established after
Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city in 2005. The school is
one of five KIPP charter schools serving roughly 1,000 of the city's
students since Katrina.
"This means instruments will be available to these students for years to
come, to continue making music history in New Orleans," said Bennett,
who was treated Thursday to performances of "Free Spirit Overture" and
"My Funny Valentine" by the school's symphonic and jazz bands.
"These kids are amazing. What I heard today was real music. They played
with feeling, with such heart," the 82-year-old Bennett said.
The donation effort was set in motion by a jazz fan from New York who
won a "Big Give" contest hosted by Oprah Winfrey's magazine. The winner,
Barry Jaffin, wanted to use his $5,000 in winnings to put instruments in
New Orleans schools.
Bennett and a host of charitable groups such as Music Rising and the Mr.
Holland's Opus Foundation got on board with the cause.
"We were all very excited," said 13-year-old Deon Butler, a 7th-grade
trumpet player who performed in both the symphonic and jazz bands for
Bennett. "Out of all the schools in the U.S., he came to hear us."
Bennett, a 15-time Grammy winner, released his signature "I Left My
Heart in San Francisco" in 1962 and remains a popular performer.
Bennett was accompanied Thursday by his wife, Susan Benedetto, who runs
the couple's New York-based Exploring the Arts program, which
contributed to the instrument donation. On Friday, Bennett is slated to
perform at Jazz Fest, which kicked off its second weekend Thursday.
School groups from all over the city were scattered across the festival
grounds. Besides listening to music, the kids got some hands-on craft
experience. Jared Wilkerson, a 4th-grader at Hynes Charter School in New
Orleans, helped 67-year-old carpenter Ray Weimer cut a piece of cypress
wood to make an old-fashioned roof shingle.
"That was fun," Wilkerson said, chuckling with schoolmates.
Jazz Fest veterans were also having a good time.
"Jazz Fest is my religion," said Nancy Gates, a Boston native who said
she has not missed a Jazz Fest since 1988. "This is the mother of all
festivals, the best festival in the world. It has the best food, the
best music and the best crowd. I love it all."
For the Ulf family from Kensington, Md., the festival is the site of a
family reunion each year. Parents David and Ellen Ulf fly to New Orleans
with their 19-year-old son, Ryan, to visit their daughter, 24-year-old
Ellen, who lives there.
"We always time the trip to catch Jazz Fest," Ellen Ulf said, as she
handed out cochon de lait po-boys and alligator pies to the rest of the
family in a shady spot under a tree near the Cajun and zydeco stage.
"We like this stage because we don't have music like this where we
live," David Ulf said. "I can see Neil Young anywhere. I can only see
Corey Ledet here."
Young is slated to perform on Sunday, the festival's closing day.
Thursday's closing acts were guitarist Ben Harper, country singer
Emmylou Harris and soul singer Marva Wright.
On the Net:
Jazz Fest,: http://nojazzfest.com
Tony Bennett,: http://www.tonybennett.net
Exploring the Arts,: http://www.exploringthearts.org
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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