Keeping Jazz Makers Alive

Evicted or with no medical insurance, musicians playing their last chorus are saved by the Jazz Foundation

The result: For 14 years, Englewood Hospital & Medical Center, in concert with the Jazz Foundation, has provided surgeries and specialists, medical care, diagnostics, and lab work—without charge—for more than 1,000 uninsured musicians, literally keeping hundreds of jazz and blues artists alive.

Meanwhile, the foundation keeps swinging into action. In March, when a giant construction crane collapsed, one of the residents evacuated from her apartment next to the crushed four-story brick building was 92-year-old organist Jane Jarvis, known to Mets fans for her rousing "Mexican Hat Dance" at Shea Stadium—and to jazz listeners for her work with Clark Terry, Benny Powell, Lionel Hampton, and Roy Eldridge.

Rushed out of her apartment in just her pajamas and a fur coat, bewildered and confused as "my world fell around me," Jane was taken into the care of the Red Cross. Then, Wendy—who at that point was in New Orleans caring for musicians still displaced by Hurricane Katrina—received a call from Benny Powell and studio musician Ann Ruckert. Wendy got Jane into a hotel—paid for by the Jazz Foundation—until she could get back to her apartment and be seen to by a foundation social worker.

E-mailing her list of supporters to update us on Jane's situation, Wendy said: "I didn't want you to think we were slacking."

Next week: New horizons for the Jazz Foundation.

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