Jon Batiste to Perform, Mike Stoller to Be Celebrated at Jazz Foundation of America’s Annual Apollo Gala

The Jazz Foundation of America has set performers and honorees for its annual “A Great Night in Harlem” benefit, with multiple Grammy winner Jon Batiste among the talent coming to the Apollo Theater and legendary songwriter Mike Stoller among those being honored for a lifetime of work.

The concert portions of the March 30 event will be overseen, as always, by drumming great Steve Jordan as the night’s musical director. Batiste will be joined in the performance lineup by a cast that includes Bettye LaVette, Monty Alexander, Ray Parker Jr., Kenny Barron and Robert Cray.

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Stoller has come back into the pop consciousness in a big way in the past year due to the number of Leiber and Stoller songs featured on the “Elvis” film soundtrack, with the writing due that included Jerry Leiber having been responsible for such career milestones as “Hound Dog” (originally recorded by R&B artist Big Mama Thornton), “Jailhouse Rock,” “Trouble” and many others. (Read Variety‘s 2022 interview with Stoller here.)

Others being feted by the JFA include the late jazz-pianist great Ramsey Lewis, composer-saxophonist Benny Golson, Titans of Jazz Bass (Cecil McBee, Rufus Reid, Larry Ridley, Paul West, Buster Williams and Reggie Workman) and a familiar sight at JFA events, the org’s founding director and vice chairman, Wendy Oxenhorn.

Danny Glover, Ann Curry, Jeffrey Wright and Mario Cantone will host.

JFA event poster
JFA event poster

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to JFA’s Musicians’ Emergency Fund, which helps figures in the jazz community who are in need with medical care, housing assistance, emergency financial support and jobs. Some of those the org helps are little-known, and some are world-famous, such as Wayne Shorter, who died this month, and who said at a JFA event honoring him in 2019 that he couldn’t have made it through his long series of health crises without help from the fund.

The Jazz Foundation hosts benefits on both coasts each year, with the Apollo show being the bigger and more extravagant edition and an event at Vibrato in L.A. being on the more intimate side.

Tickets for this year’s Apollo show range from $75 for balcony seats to packages with a VIP party for $1.500, and can be purchased here.

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