Jazz benefit concert to raise money for New Orleans


President Bush pledged this week to rebuild the city of New Orleans, devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The tragedy has moved people around the world, and millions of dollars in aid have been raised by charities for the people of the ruined city, the world's capital of jazz. Two musicians from Prague have decided to hold a benefit concert to raise money for New Orleans.

Ondrej Konrad, photo: CTK
The Jazz for New Orleans benefit concert is the brainchild of Ondrej Konrad and Jiri Hala, two Czech musicians with a special affection for the city. Jiri Hala:

"Well, we used to play together in a band. We were both really into Dr John and that whole New Orleans sound. It's stayed with me to this day. I've been to New Orleans several times, I've got to know some local musicians there. Basically it's my favourite city in the world. So that's how it happened."

The five-hour benefit concert will feature a number of Czech jazz musicians. A Czech-US ensemble has been put together especially for the gig, featuring New Orleans jazz musicians Brian Seeger, Cassandra Faulconer and John Gros and Czech drummer Frantisek Hoenig. All the proceeds will go towards renovating a music school devastated by the floods.

"We decided to help New Orleans musicians, by raising money and sending it to a New Orleans music school to help them renovate their building. So we're organising a benefit gig which will take place on September 28th, at Mustek in Prague. Three musicians are coming over from New Orleans, and Jiri Stivin, Milan Svoboda, J.J. Jazzman and various jazz groups will also be playing."

Jiri Hala told me organising the concert had now become a full time job, and he hoped the project would be a success.

"We've got no idea how successful it will be. We're so busy with it we've got no time for anything else, we had no idea it would be so difficult to organise. But we're trying to make it as successful as possible, we're approaching commercial sponsors and so on."

The Jazz for New Orleans benefit concert takes place at Prague's Mustek, at the bottom of Wenceslas Square, on Wednesday September 28th.