Jazz concert for lupus held
A good thing for a good cause
The show was curiously called “Jazzin’ It Up for Lupus,” which seems almost an oxymoron when you place the term Jazz alongside the disease’s dreaded symptoms. But it also had another name—the “9th annual Jazz Gospel Benefit Concert.”
Held Saturday evening at the California African American Museum with about 150 persons in attendance, the concert might have left the uninitiated wondering what they had just witnessed.
Turns out it was something deliriously wonderful.
After an introduction by Liz Shaw-Stabler, founder and executive director of the Center for Lupus Care Inc., singer Lisa Houston got things rolling with her version of the Lord’s Prayer that was as marvelously jazzy as it was reverential.
“Come on, put your hands together for Jesus tonight,” she exclaimed as she ended the number.
“We are healed in the name of Jesus.”
As for the rest of the concert, some had never heard a song treated the way Dwight Trible contorted the old Duke Ellington tune, “In the Beginning, God.” If nothing else, Trible’s anguished sounds and movements put one in mind of a woman in the throes of childbirth. Trible’s style is as much theater as it is jazz styling. It is as much a delight to the eyes as it is to the ears. It is so idiosyncratic that, but for the lyrics, one might be hard put to recognize the song, as in his treatment of “Wild as the Wind” and the Bill Withers’ classic, “Grandma’s Hands.” Both were engagingly sung.
Similarly, one would be disappointed if they expected the sweet, demure Karen Briggs to play sweetly and demurely on her electric violin. She’s certainly capable, having played four years with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
She bowed the violin as if she were trying to hurt it, or at least see how much punishment it could take. Briggs made it wail, cry and scream like an animal in distress—eeeeeoowww! weeeeowwww! But it was music to all ears, so much so that she received several ovations.
The program notes called Justo Almario “a multitalented master saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist, composer, arranger and clinician.” He was that and more. He led audience participation on a wonderful rendition of the old Bobby Timmons’ tune, “Moaning,” where the audience had to repeat the words, “Yes, Lord.” No youngster, the Columbia-born Almario once served as musical director for the great Mongo Santamaria. These days he teaches saxophone in the Jazz department at UCLA.
The sextet was rounded out by Mark de Clive-Lowe on piano, Trevor Ware on bass and Dexter Story on drums, all three accomplished musicians with extensive resumes.
“Griot and poet” Isaac Sundiata, served as MC. One of the youngest members of the Watts Writers Workshop, he introduced a poem called “Thanks and Praises.” It was clearly a paean to the Almighty.
In her welcome, Shaw-Stabler told the audience, “Our motto is someone you know has lupus.”
“How many of you know someone with lupus?” she asked.
Almost everyone in the room raised their hands.
Shaw-Stabler said she had been battling the disease for 33 years. “African American women are diagnosed with this disease more than anyone else,” said the executive director, adding that she wanted everyone there to know exactly what the disease is about.
“For some strange reason, lupus patients develop something called antigens that fight against our white blood cells,” she said. The disease affects critical areas of the body, including all the major organs—the brain, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the skin, the skeletal system.
“You’re either in a flare or in remission, she said. “We’re not sick all the time. It comes, and it goes.”
Of all the provocative images that emerged from the counterculture era of the 1960s and 1970s, none was as compelling as that of a striking young philosophy professor, her hair fashioned in a perfectly coiffed Afro, with clenched fist held high in perhaps the ultimate symbol of Black militancy.
The Urban Issues Breakfast Forum will host scholar-activist-author Angela Y. Davis April 19 from 7:30-9:30 a.m. (the program starts promptly at 8 a.m.) at the California African American Museum, 600 State Park Drive, Exposition Park in Los Angeles. Priority admission and seating will be given to those who purchase Dr. Davis’ latest book, “The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues.” The book must be purchased at Eso Won Bookstore, at which time purchaser’s will be given a priority admission coupon.
Lupus is an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease that ravages different parts of the body. It is difficult to diagnose, hard to live with, and a challenge to treat. According to a recent survey by the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Black women, in particular, are three times more likely to develop the disease than White women.
If you are one of five people living in a one-bedroom dwelling, you are living in a condition one local health official called severely overcrowded, and there are a number of ramifications that could potentially impact your life.
Dr. Eric Walsh, M.P.H., head of the Pasadena Public Health Department, talked about this and other urban environmental concerns at a recent Urban Issues Breakfast Forum, held at the California African American Museum.
The film “White Wash,” which explores the complexity of race in America through water culture, will screen at the California African American Museum Saturday, July 7 from 1-4 p.m. In examining the history of world water culture, and the history of “Black consciousness” the film discusses the power of race as a constructive phenomenon and how American history has included or not include stories about Black involvement in water culture as part of the national discourse.