Jon Hendricks, a world-renowned jazz vocalist, believes the Coda Jazz Foundation is an extremely noble cause.
Coming from someone of Hendricks' stature, that means plenty.
Hendricks, who lives in Toledo , is traveling to Kansas City next month to use his enormous talent to put the Coda Jazz Foundation over the top in its fund -raising goals.
Three years ago, the Coda Jazz Foundation was formed to raise money to pay the burial, funeral and cremation expenses for families of jazz musicians who couldn't afford the cost.
Now the effort is on the precipice of reaching its goal. The third annual Coda Jazz Fund Benefit Concert, to be held May 15 at the Gem Theater, should propel the fund past its original goal of $100,000. As with past Coda benefit concerts, the public won't be disappointed.
Hendricks is bound to be a hit. He's a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master and a pioneer of the style known as vocalese. He's also the founder and creator of the singing group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.
In addition to Hendricks, the lineup includes local pianist Jay McShann, legendary tenor saxophonist Red Holloway and trombonist Curtis Fuller. Holloway has gigged with the likes of singer Billie Holiday and saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Fuller performed with saxophonist John Coltrane.
The concert also will feature an appearance by the McFadden Brothers and the "Wild Women of Kansas City," featuring Geneva Price, Millie Edwards, Myra Taylor and Lori Tucker. The lineup officially will be announced at a news conference and happy hour at 5 p.m. Friday at the Red Vine, 1700 E. 18th St. , in the 18th and Vine district.
"With all these performers coming together, it's going to be magical," said Gerald Dunn, a local saxophonist who is the music coordinator for the concert. "This will be like a parade of stars."
Juanita Moore, the executive director of the American Jazz Museum , and Buck O'Neil, chairman of the board of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum , will be hosts of the event. Tickets are $125, $75 and $50 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at (816) 931-3330 or at the American Jazz Museum admission desk.
While The Kansas City Star and Sprint are the primary sponsors, others sponsors this year include Gold Bank and DST. Those companies should be applauded for stepping up to the plate.
Now it's up to the public to do the same.
"I think Coda is a very noble thing to do," Hendricks said. "Actually, it's something that should be done by the government. Foundations like this do the good that is really the responsibility of the government."
Hendricks finds the thought of passing a hat to pay for a career jazz musician's funeral or burial repulsive. He says countries such as France and Great Britain do a much better job of supporting the arts than the U.S. government.
" America is the only country in the world that doesn't recognize its own cultural art form," Hendricks said. "That must stop. Otherwise we have no right to criticize anyone anywhere."
Kansas Citians have always been willing to share the burdens of people they care for. And local jazz artists are some of the most beloved people in this city.
Supporters of Coda this year will forever stake claim to a unique niche. They will always have the satisfaction of realizing their efforts sent the Coda Jazz Fund over the top. And according to a living jazz master, that's a very noble gesture.
To reach Steve Penn, call (816) 234-4417 or send e-mail to email@example.com.