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‘Jazz for Hope’ to Benefit Teen Recovery Program

Charlie (Yardbird) Parker may be one of jazz’s immortals, but he gave the wrong idea to a lot of young disciples. Observing Parker, they came to believe that drugs held the key to higher musical powers. And since Parker’s peak years in the 1940s and 1950s, the jazz landscape has been littered with careers ruined by drugs and alcohol.

Happily, awareness of the dangers of substance abuse is on the upswing, as evidenced by events such as this Sunday’s “Jazz For Hope,” a 12-hour benefit for a fledging teen recovery program called Hotel California in Ocean Beach.

Organized by several musicians who are recovering from various addictions and dysfunctional family issues, the noon-to-midnight event will feature Joe Marillo, Daniel Jackson, Pieces, Turiya and the Immediate Freedom Band, Odyssey (featuring Jim Storey and Judy Ames), Holly Burke, Reel to Real and the Young Brothers.

Among the organizers is multi-instrumentalist Dave Millard, a native San Diegan who ended a 25-year heroin habit three years ago.

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“This recovery stuff is real important to me,” says Millard, 48. “I’ve been working with Art Street (an arts-oriented teen recovery program in Golden Hill), which has pointed up the real importance of getting kids into recovery early in life, as opposed to later on.

“I know what a struggle it was for me, a very long, hard struggle. At the early stage, these kids are more open to many kinds of healing. I’ve seen it work miracles.

“What I grew up with was the old saw that if you wanted to be like Charlie or play like Charlie, you had to shoot dope. And it created a big problem. It became a malaise running through the whole society.

“I think my career could have been a lot different. Drugs really curtailed my growth because when you’re tied to an addiction like that--I couldn’t go abroad much. Although my playing was good, I’m sure it was nowhere near what it could have been. Now, I’ve felt a new kind of momentum in my playing that I haven’t felt in years, a clarity, and joy too.”

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Millard has high hopes for the project.

“It would be a safe house, a place out of the storm,” he said. “We’ll have all kinds of different directions for them to take. They can get counseling, go to 12-step program meetings in-house, there’ll be different kinds of counseling, maybe even peer counseling, perhaps referrals for kids who need foster homes for awhile, maybe even help for crack babies.”

Besides a variety of jazz and other music, “Jazz For Hope” will include comedy, dance and a show presented by kids from Art Street on the theme of recovery. Millard, who plays a variety of reed instruments and guitar, plans to appear with both Burke and Immediate Freedom.

Tickets for the event are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Advance tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

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San Diego flutist Holly Hofmann stormed the East Coast in August. The highlight of her tour was “Flute Fantasy” on Aug. 11, which drew some 10,000 fans to the Lincoln Center to hear Hofmann, Herbie Mann, Dave Valentin and Buddy Collette.

Hofmann also played clubs in New York and Boston with longtime collaborator Slide Hampton, the seldom-recorded trombone player. And she swung through Colorado to play a jazz festival in Telluride and appear for one week at a Denver club.

The Village Voice’s caption for a photo from the Lincoln Center date read: “Flutist Holly Hofmann was joined by Herbie Mann, Dave Valentin and Buddy Collette for a rare meeting of the four heavyweight flute players in jazz today.”

“I loved that, because I was the unknown on the bill,” said Hofmann.

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RIFFS: Pianist Harry Pickens plays San Diego City College’s “Jazz Live” concert tonight at 8 (Sept. 17) in the San Diego City College Theater. On Wednesday night (Sept. 18), Pickens teams with San Diego guitarist Mundell Lowe for an evening of Ellington at the Horton Grand Hotel, beginning at 8. . . .

Reel to Real has cut a deal with Time Is Records, San Diego’s lone jazz label, which will promote and distribute “Through That Door,” the band’s self-produced CD.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

WHOLE LOTA PLUCKIN’ GOIN’ ON THIS MONTH

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September is shaping up as Guitar Month in San Diego, with appearances scheduled by Mark Whitfield (Sept. 19 and 20, Elario’s); Barney Kessel (Sept. 21 and 22, Elario’s); Hank Easton (Sept. 18, Elario’s); Grant Geissman (Sept. 26 and 27, Elario’s); Ricardo Silveira (Sept. 28 and 29, Elario’s); Chet Atkins and Stanley Jordan (Sept. 18, Humphrey’s), and Larry Carlton (Sept. 22, Humphrey’s).

This weekend, Whitfield and Kessel will offer up two ends of a no-frills, jazz guitar continuum that began with Charlie Christian.

Whitfield is a 24-year-old with an amazingly mature, restrained approach. He burst on the scene last year with “The Marksman,” a polished collection of six original tunes and three standards. For his follow-up, “Patrice,” due next month, Whitfield challenged himself by working with four jazz heavies: Jack DeJohnette, Ron Carter, Kenny Barron and Alvin Batiste.

Whitfield names George Benson and Wes Montgomery as his guitar heroes, and his playing already captures many of their best traits: Benson’s nimble, precise, melodic attack, Montgomery’s laid-back, behind-the-beat, swinging approach. Whitfield’s solos incorporate sliding, Montgomery-like pairs of notes an octave apart. Whitfield also has a genuine feel for the blues, a sensitivity he developed during his early 1980s apprenticeship with organist Jack McDuff.

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Kessel took New York City by storm last summer, playing his first-ever dates at the Village Vanguard, earning raves from Big Apple jazz critics.

When Kessel is on, he’s untouchable. He breaks down jazz standards and rebuilds them with a new architecture including a fresh framework of chords and fine, fleeting fibers of melody he delivers with the speed of the best be-bop saxophonists.

Kessel’s last release was the 1988 “Red Hot and Blues,” a polished, star-studded effort which, despite its title, doesn’t capture the full heat of his live efforts.


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