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Michael Fitzgerald

Jazz 1986 hunger benefit recording

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I don't remember ever hearing of this before. Anyone?

Did the instrumental version ever get made?




Copyright Collection

Jazz to End Hunger, Inc., 1986.

4 mins., color, 1/2" videocassette. VAA 7570

A press clip of the efforts of a collection of jazz personalities

to help raise money for the hungry in the U.S., including moments

from their performance of "Keep the Dream Alive" featuring a jazz

ensemble, orchestra, and chorus. Includes short interviews with

Larry Carlton, Billy Eckstine and Carmen McRae.


Benefit With a Jazz Twist

Records, video to aid the hungry


February 17, 1986


Los Angeles

After Band Aid, We Are the World, Live Aid and Farm Aid, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the jazz musicians have gotten together to make a benefit recording to feed hungry people.

But unlike the big benefits for African relief, Jazz to End Hunger aims to raise money for starving Americans (skip the jokes about starving jazzmen).

Some big names in jazz gathered here last week to make a record and video called "Keep the Dream Alive," a pop anthem jazzified by singers Carmen McRae, Billy Eckstine, Della Reese, Kenny Rankin, Mark Murphy, Sue Raney and others.

They were backed by a studio choir of 35 and such venerable jazzmen as Ray Brown, Tom Scott, Ernie Watts, Stanley Clarke, Bill Watrous, Victor Feldman and Alan Broadbent.

A pure jazz instrumental version of the tune will be recorded next month in New York with Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Michael Brecker and others. Both versions should be on the airwaves by late spring.

From the sale of 45 single recordings, short and long videos and the proceeds from benefit concerts later this year, the Jazz to End Hunger Foundation hopes to raise $10 million for the homeless and hungry in the land of plenty.

"It's great to feed hungry people around the world," said singer Eloise Laws (flutist Hubert's sister), "but what about people starving right here in our own backyard?"

Said Kenny Rankin, "I did a concert in Seattle, and on my way to buy some salmon, I saw a man reaching into the gutter and eating some discarded grapes. I'll never forget that. Some of us are privileged, but there's poverty all around us."

Jazz to End Hunger proceeds will be funneled through Hands Across America, the Los Angeles-based Community Food Resources and other food banks around the country.

Michael McIntosh, a 35-year-old record and concert producer, is the man behind Jazz Aid. He got everybody from the musicians to the unions, the sound engineers and the studios to waive their fees. He said he loaned the foundation $20,000 of his own money, and will donate his producer's fee to the cause.

"The jazz community was overlooked by Live Aid and `We Are the World,' " said McIntosh, a Sacramento boy who played harmonica in San Francisco rock bands before leaving for lotus land.

"There are legendary musicians who wanted to help but were never asked. Now they have the opportunity to say, `We're still alive and we have something to contribute.' `We Are the World' had stars, but we have legends. Cyndi Lauper is cute, but she'll never be a Carmen McRae."

McRae grumbled a bit about having to hang around the Evergreen Studios in beautiful downtown Burbank all afternoon while the choir rehearsed, but she sang her heart out anyway.

"It's an important cause and I want to help," she said. "And I think it's a real catchy tune, better than `We Are they World.' I played the tape for some square friends and they dug it."

On the record, McRae swaps solo lines with Kenny Rankin, Lorenz Alexandra, Dianne Schuur and Billy Eckstine, who kept the singers laughing with Ben Webster and Count Basie stories, and his Fats Domino imitation.

Mr. B. finally signed his release form after complaining that the bulky document was "a lot of junk to read for a benefit. It's all those `herebys' and "whereases' that worry me. OK, I'll sign it . . . Arthur Prysock."

It is the singers' individual timbres and phrasing that gives the vocal version of "Keep the Dream Alive" its jazz flavor. No two takes sounded the same.

"No, uh-uh, I don't like that one at all," said McRae after hearing the playback of her solo. "I like mine," chimed in Rankin, "can we keep it in?" Carmen did another take and seemed satisfied with it.

Dianne Schuur, the young blind singer with the powerhouse voice, sang her lines from a Braille script. "I wanted to meet you," McRae told Schuur. "I like what you do." Said Schuur later, "I can't believe I'm here with all of these amazing people."

"Keep the Dream Alive" was co-written by composers Andrew Belling and Don Grady, better known as Robbie on "My Three Sons."

"We rewrote this song several times," said Grady. "At first they wanted it jazzier, then more poppish. It had to be hip, but not so jazzy it couldn't reach the non-jazz fans. Now it's kinda pop with a jazz feeling.

"We won't make any money from it, but hearing these incredible singers doing our song is payment enough."

PHOTO CUTLINE: (1) Kenny Rankin, Billy Eckstine and Carmen McRae at the recording session for `Keep the Dream Alive, (2) Singers held hands for the video of the benefit jazz record organized by Michael McIntosh (with goatee, second row back, far right) / PHOTOS BY EMILY LIEU

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