On Sunday, December 11 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Jazz Bridge and the Sunday Sessions at LaRose Jazz Club, 5531 Germantown Avenue, will present an “All-Star, All Women Jazz Jam” to raise money for women jazz and blues musicians in crisis and for the wives of jazz and blues musicians. Tickets are $20.00.
The evening will feature some of the Greater Philadelphia area’s most esteemed Women of Jazz, including Monnette Sudler, Denise King, Miss Justine, Gina Roche, Cindy LeBlanc, Suzanne Cloud, Karen Rodriguez, Lynn Riley, Rhenda Fearrington, Denise Montana, Wendy Simon, Suzzette Ortiz, Dawn Evans, Pearl Williams and Ella Gahnt. The event will also include raffles and special giveaways, and a buffet dinner will be available for an additional charge.
Jazz Bridge was established in 2005 by jazz vocalists Suzanne Cloud and Wendy Simon, and received its 501C3 non-profit status in 2007.
“Over the years, we’ve had so many of our great local jazz people die without any kind of support,” said Suzanne Cloud. “They had nothing for when they got sick, didn’t have any kind of resources to go to. Choosing to be a jazz musician is choosing a life where you don’t get 401Ks, you don’t get health benefits, you don’t get a pension plan — a lot of times, you don’t even get social security, because you’re working on a cash basis. That’s just the nature of the biz, so basically people would get in trouble, and a lot of these were recorded, well-known people that live in our town and work in our town. If they fell on hard times, it was an immediate descent into despair.
“My mentor was a well known pianist whom I recorded and worked with over the years. His name was Eddie Green. He got pancreatic cancer, and he had no resources, so after that happened with Eddie, I said ‘Enough is enough,’ and I called up my friend Wendy and said, ‘Do you want to do something to stop this?’ She said, ‘Yeah,’ and that was how Jazz Bridge got started.
“We have a dual mission right now. The first mission is to help our local professional jazz and blues musicians in crisis, and the second part of the mission is to get the original music of the jazz community out there, so we have these neighborhood concerts. We have five series that go on all around the metro area, and we film them all for archival purposes.”
At the “All-Star, All Women” showcase, Jazz Bridge’s second “Making a Difference Award” will be presented to jazz advocate Thelma Anderson. The inaugural award was presented to the late jazz organist Trudy Pitts.
“About four months ago, we had a call for nominations, so we had a lot of people nominated,” said Cloud. “This is basically someone who doesn’t have to be a musician, who has a long history of making a difference to the jazz community itself, and [Anderson] certainly qualifies. Thelma has made a difference because she started a group called the Council of Jazz Advocates (COJA). There’s one in Wilmington and one in Philadelphia that she started. She’s worked with Tony Williams’ scholarship fund and been on the board of his organization to get kids involved with jazz and jazz instruction, and getting instruments for kids, so she’s a great supporter of the music.”
Guitarist Monnette Sudler, who will also be performing at Chris’ Jazz Café on Friday, December 9, with sets scheduled for 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., is a longtime fixture on Philly’s jazz scene and said, “I think that Jazz Bridge is really a great program, and so whatever I can do to help, I’ll be there.”
For tickets to the “All-Star, All Women Jazz Jam, call (215) 517-8337, or visit http://www.jazzbridge.org/products-page.