Inside the cozy nightclub thick with jazz musicians, music industry professionals and a sprinkling of other VIPs, legendary music producer Quincy Jones on Sunday night hosted “Q & You,” a benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America.
“There are some amazing people here tonight,” Jones said from his perch on a banquette, seated beside music heavyweight Clarence Avant, the subject of the 2019 documentary “The Black Godfather.”
“The big guns always come out to support this event,” said Eden Alpert, daughter of Herb Alpert and a partner in the legendary jazz trumpeter’s Vibrato Grill in L.A’s Beverly Crest neighborhood, where the fundraiser took place. “It’s artists helping artists, and that’s important.”
“Q & You” honored nine-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and 11-time Grammy-winning composer and jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter. And the event raised funds for the Jazz Foundation of America Musicians’ Emergency Fund, for musicians in need of housing, medical care and disaster relief, in addition to the foundation’s Jazz & Blues in the Schools program.
Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon”) served as emcee for a program headlined by Chaka Khan and featuring the so-called piano prince of New Orleans, Davell Crawford, as well as actress-singer-songwriter Rita Wilson; musical duo Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman; and jazz musicians Ray Parker Jr., Antoine Roney, John Patitucci, Patrice Rushen, Greg Phillinganes, Michael Hunter, Alex Acuna and Steve Jordan.
Guests included Keegan-Michael Key, star of comedy series “Key & Peele”; Verdine White, bassist for Earth, Wind & Fire; Vince Wilburn Jr., producer of the documentary “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”; Olivia Harrison, co-author of “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”; music producer Jed Leiber; and, from the Jazz Foundation, executive director Joseph Petrucelli and founding director Wendy Oxenhorn.
“I’m here to support the Jazz Foundation,” Key said. “It’s important for people to understand that we should preserve American music. Jazz and blues are the most American forms; they’re part of the identity of our nation.”
Seated beside the stage, Wilson caught up with Harrison, widow of George Harrison. In another corner, White joined friends, saying, “I’m here to celebrate jazz — hanging here with colleagues on a Sunday night.”
“Where Joni goes, there I am,” said Chaka Khan, adding that she chose to sing two of her favorite Mitchell songs, “Man From Mars” and “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.”
“Joni’s music has meant so much to my life,” said Wilson earlier in the evening, before stepping onto the stage to sing “Joni,” a song Wilson wrote for her self-titled album, which also features a cover of Mitchell’s song “River.”
After singing “A Strange Man,” Melvoin said she and Coleman had never performed any of Mitchell’s music live, just “privately, quietly,” in their homes. So, in response to all those who had asked how she was feeling, she said, “In the spirit of complete full disclosure, I could pass out right now.”
Glover called Shorter “a genius, leaving an indelible mark on the world of music, on the universal language of song and certainly an indelible imprint on my life.” As for Mitchell, he said he listened to her classic “Both Sides Now” every morning during the filming of Lars von Trier’s 2005 film, “Manderlay,” in Sweden.
Said Leiber, “Not many people can take credit for beginning a style of music, but Wayne Shorter inspired a whole generation of musicians that came after him.”
Proceeds totaling more than $150,000 came from a live auction, pledges and 150 event tickets ranging from $500 to $2,500 at the sold-out venue. The Jazz Foundation’s emergency assistance program helps an average of 30 musicians a day and brings live music programs to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, parks, museums and community centers, reaching 90,000 listeners and providing jobs for musicians in 19 states nationwide.
“If you’re walking in the desert, parched, and if somebody would have given you water, that would have been already fantastic,” said Carolina Shorter, the honoree’s wife. “But with [the Jazz Foundation], you feel like you’ve found a tent, with pillows and shade and air conditioning and the most amazing people in the world.”