Musicians and labels join forces for Jazz Foundation of America benefit album

Herbie Hancock, Christian McBride, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Jon Batiste are among the many jazz artists featured on Relief, a new benefit album for the Jazz Foundation of America.

A consortium of jazz labels — Blue Note, Concord, Mack Avenue, Nonesuch and Verve — joined forces to put together this all-star compilation of previously unreleased music.

Sales of Relief on CD, double-LP and digital formats will support the Jazz Foundation of America’s ongoing efforts to help musicians affected by the international shutdown of venues and other performance opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdowns prevented the JFA’s usual fundraisers, normally held in New York and Los Angeles, from happening in 2020 and 2021.

All net proceeds from the album — which includes studio and live tracks by top-tier jazz musicians — will benefit the JFA’s Musicians’ Emergency Fund, established in the spring of 2020 after the pandemic brought the music industry to a halt.

The lead single is Jon Batiste’s Sweet Lorraine.

“The Jazz Foundation of America deeply appreciates the artists, songwriters and label teams who contributed to this project with such compassion and generosity,” said JFA executive director Joe Petrucelli. “As pandemic restrictions continue to lift, we recognize that musicians will face a particularly lengthy recovery. They were among the first to be hit by the effects of the crisis and will be among the last to achieve a true sense of normalcy or stability. We and our partners are here for the long haul.”

The album presents other fresh tracks from Christian McBride, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Kenny Garrett, Joshua Redman, Charles Lloyd, Hiromi Uehara, Esperanza Spalding and Leo Genovese.

The compilation concludes with a live quintet performance captured at the JFA’s 2014 benefit show at the Apollo Theater in New York. It’s a poignant version of Gingerbread Boy featuring pianist Herbie Hancock, trumpeter Wallace Roney (who died last March of complications from COVID-19), bassist Buster Williams, drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath (who died in January, 2020).

“I’m honoured to be part of this meaningful project that supports the important work of the Jazz Foundation, who has always been there for musicians going through tough times,” Hancock said. “They have been an especially critical resource for the community during the pandemic, helping those in need of medical care, putting food on the table and paying their rent.”

Here’s the full track listing for Relief:

  1. IRMA and LEO – back to who (feat. Esperanza Spalding & Leo Genovese)
  2. Christian McBride – Brother Malcolm
  3. Cécile McLorin Salvant – Easy Come, Easy Go Blues
  4. Kenny Garrett – Joe Hen’s Waltz
  5. Jon Batiste – Sweet Lorraine
  6. Hiromi – Green Tea Farm
  7. Joshua Redman – Facts (feat. Ron Miles, Scott Colley & Brian Blade)
  8. Charles Lloyd & Kindred Spirits – Lift Every Voice and Sing (Live)
  9. Herbie Hancock – Gingerbread Boy (feat. Wallace Roney, Jimmy Heath, Buster Williams & Albert “Tootie” Heath) [Live]

Relief will be released Sept. 24.

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