Jarreau, Yellowjackets Play Benefit in L.A.

On Saturday, October 9, the Los Angeles Music Academy (LAMA) hosted the fifth annual “An Evening For The Station,” which netted $85,000 for Union Station Foundation, one of the largest private agencies serving the poor and homeless in the West San Gabriel Valley and Greater Los Angeles. Actor Hector Elizondo served as the master of ceremonies (and sang and played congas) for a lineup that included singer Al Jarreau (pictured), Yellowjackets, actor/pianist Jeff Goldblum, vocalists Kevyn Lettau, Jean Baylor, the Perri Sisters and acoustic/electric bassist Dean Taba.

The musical theme for this year’s event was “Jazz Standards – And Not So Standard Jazz.” Russell Ferrante, coproducer of the concert said, “Al Jarreau was a perfect choice for this event because he’s just released his own CD of jazz standards. He has this ability to reach out and connect with audiences-his spirit of generosity and giving touches everyone. One of the most poignant moments was when he spoke about the importance of helping those in need. His connection to the homeless and people on the margins comes from his early experiences as a social worker in Milwaukee and San Francisco. In performance, Al was wholly engaged and inspiring to everyone onstage. He was our musical mentor.”

Along with Ferrante, Michael Shapiro, the education director and percussion instructor at LAMA, helped line up the talent for the show. “I learned about Union Station several years ago because the agency is located one block west of LAMA,” said Shapiro. “Gerry Puhara, a close friend of mine, is a member of Union Station’s Board of Directors and has spoken so highly of the agency and its remarkable ability to help those in need. I remember an afternoon about six years ago when I watched the Union Station van drive by full of folks. I realized then that as a musician, I had something important to offer. And so did my colleagues at the LA Music Academy and my wonderfully charming and talented friends in Hollywood. I recruited Gerry to serve as the Chair of the event. She jumped onboard, enlisted the support of her friends and as the saying goes, the rest is history. What seemed at first an unlikely partnership has become a match made in heaven.”

“I’m constantly amazed at the power of music to move and uplift people and bring them together,” said Ferrante. “Many of the musicians have known each other for more than 20 years, and performing at this event brings the bond between us even closer. The Yellowjackets recorded with the Perri sisters in 1984; I recorded with Jarreau in the mid-80s, and Jimmy Haslip was in Al’s touring band in the early to mid-80s. Al mentored Kevyn Lettau early in her career, too.”

Following the concert, Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip commented, “It was a joyous occasion for a wonderful cause-it was a treat to join in and support this incredible organization, to salute their hard work and passion for the community. It was truly inspiring and heartfelt.”

The musicians who performed at the event remain involved with Union Station throughout the year. LAMA is one of Union Station’s volunteer “Adopt-A-Meal” groups, which sponsor, prepare, and serve dinner once a month to their shelter residents. Four years ago, Jimmy Haslip produced a compilation CD titled Junction. The CD is sold on the Yellowjackets Web site and 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to Union Station. And Elizondo and Goldblum, despite their busy acting schedules, have been involved with the event since its inception.

Union Station Foundation is an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of the poor and homeless in the San Gabriel Valley and Greater Los Angeles. Union Station assists their clients to transform their lives by becoming productive, stable, and self-supporting citizens. Every year, more than 144,000 meals are served and 25,000 nights of shelter are provided to men, women, and families. Union Station also provides extensive supportive services to help its clients and future generations permanently escape the cycle of homelessness. For additional information, please visit www.unionstationfoundation.org www.unionstationfoundation.org or call 626-240-4557.

The LA Music Academy is dedicated to providing an excellent, unique and personalized music-performance education, enabling graduate musicians to perform at the top level in a wide variety of professional, competitive and challenging musical environments. For further information about their curriculum and classes, please visit www.lamusicacademy.com www.lamusicacademy.com or call 626-568-8850.