Jazz for Peace: A Convenient Truth
By Debra R. Cerritelli
What is Jazz for Peace? This is a question I have answered thousands of times in the past three years. Jazz for Peace is an organization founded by Rick DellaRatta and its purpose is to reach out to individuals and organizations on both sides of conflicting issues, believing that if we as a species embrace qualities such as creativity, artistry, intellectuality, humanity, individuality, etc. we will all have a better chance of avoiding the behavior that leads to destruction. On Oct. 8th 2001 Jazz Greats Rick DellaRatta, Paquito D'Rivera, Eddie Gomez and Lenny White performed the first Jazz for Peace Concert at Troy Music Hall in NY. Jazz for Peace" received world wide recognition and acclaim for their concert at the United Nations on Sept. 25th 2002 which united Israeli, Palestinian and American Jazz musicians (along with Jazz musicians representing three other continents) in a performance which is now widely considered One of the most significant Cultural Events of our time!" From this event heard 'round the world came funding for a Benefit Concert Series that has now raised funds, publicity and awareness world wide.
Rick DellaRatta was born and raised in Schenectady, New York. As a child his interest was stirred when he spied on a jolly looking piano mover who he believed was Santa Claus. Rick started studying piano at the age of (8) eight and played with this first band in high school. In college he majored in Classical Music. Rick's life changed when he was accidentally exposed to jazz at a library, he came across many records and became intrigued by the large selections of artists and recordings. Rick DellaRatta is now considered by many to be one of the finest Singer/Pianists performing today and one of only a handful of Jazz Artists who can make a successful musical presentation to a large audience without having to abandon the true art form of Jazz. Through his life long endeavor to help advance people to their highest potential through the understanding of Jazz as well as spreading peace worldwide through his Jazz for Peace World Tour", Rick DellaRatta is considered to be an innovator and a visionary. His unique and original piano playing and composing has been compared in print to Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, Joe Zawinul, Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson and Thelonious Monk while his signature vocal sound and style has been likened to Chet Baker, Billy Holiday, Joao Gilberto, Ivan Lins, Michael Franks and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Rick DellaRatta has played with the greatest artists and in Jazz Clubs and Festivals all over the world. He also has received recognition and numerous awards for his talents.
Three years ago I attended my first Jazz for Peace Benefit Concert. It was one of the first from their New" Benefit Concert Series before they had a following. I knew very little about Jazz at that time and I witnessed the most amazing talent, playing great music. After the concert I introduced myself to Rick and we discussed his ideas and his mission to unite people through the art form of Jazz and creating world peace through his music. I was drawn to his visions, facts and music, especially that Jazz is a Universal language where we can gather people regardless of color, creed and religion. Not knowing much about the non-profit world or the music industry and using his lyrics from his poem. When we fill our souls up with creativity, artistry, and intelligence, we have a better chance at avoiding the behavior that leads to destruction" I enjoyed helping Rick by spreading his visions with his multi-cultured musicians and all the organizations that we have worked with. From the success of our benefit concert series we launched our Educational Series bringing Jazz into the schools along with our Instrument Donation Program providing musical instruments to under privileged children all over the world. I am happy to say last month we have celebrated our 300th Concert. Working with Rick, Jazz for Peace, all the wonderful musicians and organizations we have raised funds, awareness and publicity for has certainly been a very rewarding experience for me. I share the thoughts, ideas and experiences with my children with the hope they will carry it forward. To quote Rick from his song titled Jazz for Peace", the gift of giving is one of our greatest privileges".
I have asked myself many times why someone as talented as Rick would go through the struggle and dedicate his life and music to this cause. We certainly cannot save the world anytime soon and it is not easy to get people on board and convince them to join our mission in this very untrusting world. Perhaps if we all did our share we could at least be a step closer to world peace with a convenient truth that people will follow.