Music Legends to Play Jazz Foundation’s Great Night in Harlem Benefit at Apollo

On Thursday, May 20th, at 8:00 PM the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) will present its 9th annual “A Great Night in Harlem” gala concert to benefit its Jazz Musicians’ Emergency Fund. The evening will raise money to assist countless elder and established jazz and blues musicians in crisis across the country, artists who spend their lives making ours richer with their music.

 Held at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, the concert brings together more than 50 jazz and blues legends and rare gems to say “thank you” for keeping the musicians and the Music alive. This year’s performers include GRAMMY Award winner Roberta Flack, one of the greatest songstresses of our time, and legendary jazz vocalist and NEA Jazz Master Little Jimmy Scott.

Honorary Benefit Committee Co-Chairs for the event include Clint Eastwood, Quincy Jones, Danny Glover and Richard Parsons, Chairman of Citigroup. “This is the greatest organization in America today saving great American lives,” says Jones.

The theme of this year’s concert is “A History of the Music” which will feature a tribute to Billie Holiday with song interpreter extraordinaire Madeleine Peyroux who has often been compared to the late, great Holiday, big band Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks renowned on the New York scene for authentically presenting 1920s and 30s jazz, and bebop all-stars Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Ron Carter, and Barry Harris.

Part of this historic event will be celebrating the 100th birthday of jazz legend Max “The Saxman” Lucas, who has played with Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Muddy Waters to name a few, and still rides the subway to get to his gigs!

Some of the “rare gems” include Haitian folk singer-songwriter Manno Charlemagne, Mississippi juke joint blues master R. L. Boyce, and Nigerian-born master drummer Baba Ola Jagun who spent over ten years touring with legendary Afrobeat creator, Fela Kuti, the subject of the Broadway show Fela.

The evening will be hosted by Chevy Chase, Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos, and David Johansen of The New York Dolls

For over 20 years, the Jazz Foundation has been the only national organization dedicated to keeping jazz and blues alive by saving hundreds of musicians from eviction, creating dignified employment, and so much more. JFA now support over 5,000 cases a year, including hundreds of New Orleans musicians and their families still coping with the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

The “Great Night” will feature performances by many of the very musicians the Jazz Foundation helps such as Harlem blues queen Sweet Georgia Brown, who stole the show from B.B. King at the 2009 Montreux Jazz Festival just a few years after JFA helped her get back on her feet when a fire destroyed her home, and the “Prince of New Orleans” Davell Crawford, one of the hundreds of musicians JFA assisted after Katrina.

Terence Conley, former pianist for the Count Basie Orchestra, will kick off the bebop all-star jam. JFA has helped Terence and his family through the hardest year of their lives, paying their rent and keeping food on the table while he has been making a slow and steady recovery from an accident that left him in a coma for over a month.

Past performances and appearances have included Bill Cosby, Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Lou Reed, Hank Jones, Norah Jones, Abbey Lincoln, Odetta and many others.

Elvis Costello came to a previous gala and said, “This is one of the greatest concerts I’ve been to in 20 years. It’s straight from the heart, and you all are taking care of the real deal people.” Then he joined JFA’s Advisory Board.

Concert tickets range from $55, $95, $260, $520 to $1500 (which includes the pre-concert gala dinner and VIP after-party) and are available for purchase online at; by calling the Jazz Foundation at 212-245-3999, Ext 13; or by emailing Ticket purchases are tax-deductible to the extent of the law. Event sponsorship packages are also available.

Major corporate sponsors for this year’s “A Great Night in Harlem” are Agvar Chemicals Inc, Fortress Investment Group, Bendigo Partners, K2 Advisors, and CB Richard Ellis.

Official event sponsors include Harlem Brewing Company, Association of Black Alcohol Beverages Companies, The Gershwin Hotel, Douglas Green Wines South Africa, and Illy Coffee.

About The Jazz Foundation of America

The Jazz Foundation of America is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping elderly and established jazz and blues musicians in times of crisis through various programs and services including The Musicians’ Emergency Fund, a partnership with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, and the Agnes Varis Jazz in the Schools program.

For more information about JFA or to schedule an interview, please call Marianne Pillsbury at 212-245-3999 x17 or email To make a donation or purchase tickets, you can do so online.

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