Sunday, May 10, 2009

Keeping the Music Healthy

When asked for advice from aspiring students of music, a good musician friend recommends plenty of sleep and a healthy diet. Having recently celebrated his 50th year in music, Quincy Jones clearly developed healthier habits than so many of his jazz colleagues we lost tragically early in their careers. Health and music took center stage last week when Jones was awarded the first annual Music For a Better Life Award from Health Corps®, the health education non-profit founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz (which employs several of my friends).

In your basic sheik lower Manhattan black-tie gala, many of the beautiful and glamorous from the sports and entertainment worlds came out to join Dr. Oz to pay tribute to Jones and Broadway legend Ben Vereen, including L.L. Cool J, who made the presentation to the Grammy winning producer and big band leader. It was an event that focused welcome attention on the relationship between music and health. Unfortunately, many musicians in need have been devastated by healthcare emergencies, but Jones is a member of the Advisory Committee of an organization dedicated to helping in such times of crisis.

Thankfully, the Jazz Foundation of America has been a life-line for jazz musicians in dire straits—artists without insurance or pensions, who were never properly compensated for their work. JFA has been there to forestall evictions and to provide emergency medical treatment. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, their caseload went from the hundreds to the thousands, yet they worked tirelessly to bring emergency relief to the musicians carrying on the apostolic jazz tradition in the city where the music was born.

This Thursday at 8:00 PM, JFA holds their annual Great Night in Harlem concert uptown at the Apollo Theater. Featuring a diverse program of multi-genre artists, including Lou Reed, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Henry Butler, and Gene Bertoncini, this year’s concert promises plenty of blues, broadly defined. Of course, the line-up is subject to change right until the final curtain falls, but JFA always delivers a show well-worth the price of admission.

Ticket information can be found at JFA’s website here. You can also send a donation to:

Jazz Foundation of America
322 W. 48th St., 6th Floor
New York, NY 10036

Photo released by HealthCorps®: LL Cool J presents the Music for a Better Life award to Quincy Jones at HealthCorps Green Garden Gala, Thursday, April 30, 2009. (Manhattan Society/Corrigan-Zief)