The jazz world’s response the Haitian earthquake isn’t overwhelming, but every bit helps. The Groove Collective benefit is tomorrow, Tues, Jan 19, at (le) poisson rouge in Manhattan; a Seattle community jazz fest is at multiple venues Wed., Jan 20, and St. Louis jazz musicians for Haiti gather at Sheldon Concert Hall on Tuesday, Feb 9. Last Sunday (Jan 17) St. James Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain, Boston, added a “meditative jazz improvisation component” by pianist Ben Schwendener to its regular Night Song presentation of late Renaissance motets and chants, donating proceeds to “the people of Haiti” — and in Asheville, North Carolina guitarist Mark Guest is planning a benefit concert (details TBA). Then there’s Charles Mingus.
- At (le) poisson rouge, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, pianist Vijay Iyer, turntablist DJ Logic, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and funkateer keyboard master Bernie Worrell are featured.
- In Seatle, local ensembles are performing at The Lucid Jazz Lounge (whose owner David Pierre-Louis flew to Haiti to find his mother unharmed), The Rat and Raven, The Galway Arms, Fournos, Finn MacCools, Taste of Chicago and A Pizza Mart. Cash, checks and emergency supplies for Haitian relief are being accepted — a Bank of America account has been established to which direct deposits can be made (#43883644).
- Doctors Without Borders will receive moneys raised by St. Louisians including singers Brian Owens,Christian Brewer, Kim Massie and Mardra Thomas with her husband pianist Reggie Thomas; folk group Mayor Taylor; the Bottoms Up Blues Gang, and pianists Peter Martin and Peter Henderson.
- Guitarist Guest, whose benefit proceeds will also go to Doctors Without Borders, further “suggest(s) to those who are finding January gigs scare that a benefit is a good way to do a little community building, both in Haiti and at home.” Good thought.
Haitian music bears kinship, if only slight resemblance to jazz. Rara Lent processional troupes are something like New Orleans marching bands; compas is a light, flowing merengue dance style comparable to some varieties swing, and mini-jazz is the label Haitian bands took for fusion efforts resulting in the nation’s early successful pop songs. Plus: I append bassist Mingus’ classic “Haitian Fight Song,” in its version “II B.S.” I append here (dig Erick Dolphy’s alto solo) —
Mingus, Dolphy and company manifest the indominable spirit necessary for Haiti to rise from its rubble. What else can we do?