The Harlem-based record label Motéma Music will release the first in its new “Jazz Therapy” series of charitable fundraising CDs produced in association with the Jazz Foundation of America. Jazz Therapy, Volume 1: Smile, featuring guitarists Gene Bertoncini and Roni Ben-Hur, will benefit the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center which, under the leadership of Dr. Frank Forte, has been responsible for providing millions of dollars of free care to jazz musicians.
A release celebration for Jazz Therapy, Volume 1: Smile will kick off at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola-Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 3rd, with live sets at 7:30 and at 9:30. The concerts will feature Bertoncini and Ben-Hur performing selections from their duet CD, supported by Santi Debriano on bass and Rich DeRosa on drums. Dr. Forte, a guitarist as well as one of the country’s top oncologists, will also sit in for one number.
The impetus for Jazz Therapy came earlier this year from Ben-Hur and the late jazz bassist Earl May, who once played with Ben-Hur regularly in the lobby of Englewood Hospital as part of a Jazz Foundation of America program. The two proposed to Motéma founder Jana Herzen that they collaborate to release a benefit CD to repay the Englewood Hospital for its generosity to the Jazz community. May passed away suddenly in January 2008 before the disc could be recorded. At that point, Bertoncini stepped in to volunteer his talent as Ben-Hur’s recording partner, resulting in the formation of what award-winning jazz critic Ira Gitler is now calling “an eminently special guitar duo.”