New York -- Time Warner Cable pledged $500,000 Tuesday night to a favored cause, the Veritas Therapeutic Community substance-abuse treatment organization, at a benefit dinner and concert honoring jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck.
TWC chief operating officer Landel Hobbs, who co-chaired the Annual Evening With Friends of Charlie Parker at Manhattan’s Hotel Pierre, said the donation would go toward a $5 million endowment for Veritas.
Hobbs said the first $100,000 given was in the name of Lynn Yaeger, the retired former head of corporate affairs at the MSO. Yaeger (the dinner’s honoree two years ago) got Hobbs involved with Veritas and remains a champion of its work providing individuals and their families with substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.
TWC also asked its media agency, Ogilvy & Mather, to create a new logo and look for Veritas at no charge.
The Friends of Charlie Parker dinner, of which Tuesday’s was the 20th annual edition, was created by friends of the legendary sax player. He died in New York City in 1955, at age 34, weakened by years of heroin and alcohol abuse. Their thought: had a facility like Veritas been available to Parker, he might have lived far longer.
The “friends” who got the dinner going include his widow, the late Doris Parker; the late jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Max Roach; and octogenarian saxophonist Jimmy Heath, who performed at Tuesday’s concert.
Other performers at the benefit concert that followed the dinner included trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Roy Hargrove, saxophonist Don Braden and Dean Brewington, singer Dianne Reeves and pianists Kenny Barron and Brubeck himself (on his classic, "Blue Rondo a la Turk").
Brubeck spoke movingly about touring with Parker, known as “Yardbird,” and Parker asking several nights in a row to borrow Paul Desmond’s saxophone, evidently because he had pawned his own instrument. Later in the tour, Parker performed stunningly in Brubeck’s hometown, Oakland, Calif. “Then I knew why this great genius was who he was, because it was more than I ever heard from any one man," Brubeck said. "So you can see what certain things can do, even to the greatest."
“I went through a lot with Charlie,” Brubeck continued. “Wonderful, decent, wonderful man -- but for one thing that can kind of destroy your life far too early. But I’m here, in memory of Charlie and all of the greatness he’s given to all of us.”