At Drew, the Festivities and Healing Begin Saturday


Centered around the idea that medicine and music are both therapeutic, “Jazz at Drew” is a four-day, two-weekend fund-raising festival presented by the Charles R. Drew School of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.

This year’s event, which is being held outdoors Saturday and Sunday and Sept. 18-19 on the school’s campus, features such performers as pianist Cedar Walton, drummer Tony Williams, keyboardist George Duke and bandleader Gerald Wilson.

Drew, which is affiliated with UCLA, is one of four African-American medical schools in the United States. Founded in 1966, Drew offers both undergraduate and advanced degrees, including the M.D. degree. The fund-raising event benefits Drew’s scholarship fund, research and expansion of the school’s facilities.

So far, “Jazz at Drew " has not made any money but it also hasn’t lost any money. “We broke even our first two years, but we hope this year will be the turnaround. We expect to make a profit,” said Roland Betts, Drew’s manager of special events and executive producer of “Jazz at Drew.” He reported that the festival drew approximately 4,000 people in 1991, and 8,000 in 1992. The outdoor area has a seating capacity of 5,000.


Betts added that many of the performers work for free or receive less than they would normally get for a festival performance.

This year’s event, which has a budget of $200,000, is sponsored by Arrowhead Waters, American Airlines, the Los Angeles Renaissance Hotel and radio station KJAZ-FM (103.1).

Tickets for “Jazz at Drew” range from $17.50 to $25 per show, with special VIP tables for four priced at $200. Tickets can be purchased from Ticketmaster, (213) 480-3232, (714) 740-2000, and Tower and Music Plus stores.

Free parking for the event is available at Drew, which is located at 1621 E. 120th St., between Wilmington and Compton avenues. The event runs from 2 to 10:30 p.m. daily.


Information: (213) 563-4986, 563-4842.

Jazz Society Founder: Teri Merrill-Aarons, the founder and president of the Los Angeles Jazz Society, died Saturday of liver cancer at the age 52. Married to former Count Basie trumpeter Al Aarons, Merrill-Aarons steadfastly promoted jazz in Southern California, through the jazz society. The society fosters jazz education with its Jazz Caravan program, which presents music in schools and public parks. It also exposed jazz to cable TV viewers through its long-running public access show “Jazz in Review.”

For the past seven years, Merrill-Aarons organized the Society’s awards show, which honored members of the L.A. jazz community for contributions to the art. Honored were established greats, such as Harry “Sweets” Edison, Teddy Edwards, Conte Candoli, Gerald Wilson and Bob Cooper, and younger, developing artists, including Cecilia Coleman, Eric Reed, James Mahone and Larry Koonse.

Services will be held Saturday, 3 p.m., at the Church of the Hills at Forest Lawn in Hollywood.