Sept. 11 attacks prompted him to form Jazz For Peace

N.Y. jazz artist to perform at Friday concert

Sept. 11 attacks prompted him to form Jazz For Peace



ST. JOSEPH — New York jazz artist Rick Della Ratta believes that jazz is more than great music – it can be the instrument to bring people together by crossing cultural, religious and social barriers. His personal experiences during and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks less than a mile from his apartment in Manhattan led him to form Jazz For Peace, a band that has played more than 350 benefit concerts around the United States. At the first major Jazz For Peace concert, he said he led musicians from Israel, Palestine and the United States during a performance in front of the United Nations building in New York City in September 2002. Della Ratta will perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Silver Beach Shadowland Pavilion in St. Joseph as part of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra’s summer series. Preconcert entertainment begins at 6 p.m. The symphony has performed an Independence Day concert for several years, and patrons had been asking if any more summer concerts were planned, said Sue Rue, office manager of the symphony. Friday’s concert is part of the symphony’s plans to expand its concert offerings, which now include the New Buffalo and Around Town series. “This is the first one of the new summer series, and hopefully we’ll have more next summer,” Rue said. Even though Friday’s performance is not a Jazz For Peace concert, Della Ratta said his message follows him wherever he goes – that the human race needs to unite to stop problems like global warming, disease and terrorism. And he believes that jazz can be one key to solving those problems. “I’ve realized that because of the times we’re in, it (jazz) has the ability to cross language barriers and unite people in a positive way,” he said in a telephone interview from New York. “It helps us to raise our social consciousness so we see that the gift for giving is our greatest privilege.” Della Ratta will perform Friday with four members of the

Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra and a local musician. Performing with him from the orchestra will be Charlie Ingrassia from Oakbrook, Ill., on bass; Mark Churchill of Kalamazoo on percussion; Steve Orejudos of Chicago on trumpet; and Joe Lekan of Kalamazoo on saxophone. Also performing with Della Ratta will be Todd Ohme of St. Joseph on drums. Pre-concert entertainment will feature Doug Fordyce’s Kids on Stage and pop vocalist Lance Moore of Stevensville. Kids on Stage is a local performing arts group for children in grades 1 through 10. The group will perform routines developed during its recent Summer Boot Camp. Moore has been a featured vocalist with Lake Michigan College’s Jazz Band and has performed at several local venues, including the Mendel Center in Benton Township, the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, the Livery in Benton Harbor and Czar’s 505 Club in St. Joseph. Ohme also will perform with Moore. Sponsors for the concert are Chemical Bank, COSY 98.3, the Cook Nuclear Plant, Evergreen Development Co. and Harbor Shores. Tickets are $ 15 in advance and $ 20 at the concert. They are available at Gallery on the Alley in downtown St. Joseph, and at Martin’s Supermarkets in


Stevensville and St. Joseph. For more information and tickets, call the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra at 982 4030. Della Ratta said he began his campaign to save the world through jazz because of his experiences after the Sept. 11 attacks. He said he lived less than a

mile from the World Trade Center towers, which were brought down by terrorists. There were tanks in the street in front of his apartment in the days after the attack to maintain order. He said he had to show his identification to get back into his own apartment after leaving for groceries. A childhood friend barely escaped the towers. Della Ratta said his friend was on the 95th floor of Tower 2 when the first plane hit Tower 1. His friend immediately started running down the steps and was on the

20th floor when the second plane hit Tower 2. Had his friend stayed on the 95th floor, Della Ratta said he would not have survived. As an outlet to the emotions he felt, Della Ratta wrote a poem he called “Jazz For Peace.” That led to him forming the musical group Jazz For Peace. More information on this group can be found at