Another Great Night in Harlem

Bringing Life Back to the Living

"A Jazz Foundation staffer, Lily Morton, learned about the musician's cat, Sam, who died two years ago. This cat was his only companion because he has been homebound for years. Lily brought him a cat that looks just like Sam. The musician is another man. He talks faster, is full of fire, and has wonderful new stories to tell about Sam Jr. This is why we need you to help the Jazz Foundation."

Wendy and her equally committed colleague Lauren Roberts are working on a plan for a "Players Residence," a home for jazz musicians who need a home, with free meals at lunch in a community room where they'd no longer be in solitude, and there'd be exceptionally reasonable rents. She also foresees a "Gig Referral Office" there, where people could call and hire some of the jazz players among their peers for events. And there would be a "Jam Room" for residents and guests to do just that.

Wendy Oxenhorn of the Jazz Foundation: a one-woman rhythm section
photo: Brian Kennedy
Wendy Oxenhorn of the Jazz Foundation: a one-woman rhythm section

I wish the magisterial tenor saxophonist Ben Webster were still around for me to thank, because, speaking for myself, he also gave me, when I was young, a credo I've tried to live by ever since. He told me, "When the rhythm section isn't making it, go for yourself!" But there are times when there is no rhythm section at all for musicians who have given their lives to jazz, and that's when the Jazz Foundation gets the beat, the groove, going again, in those musicians' lives.

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