Jamming with the pros at Hamilton High
Kenny G reads Hebrew, knows a thing or two about kabbalah and blows the shofar at shul annually. “Because,” he said, “I am the only one who knows how.”
Looks like Kenny is a model Jew. “We used to be on the road, and Kenny would insist that we celebrate all the Jewish holidays,” recalled Jeff Lorber, renowned keyboardist, composer and record producer. “In 1980 we bought all the food and had a Passover seder in our Holiday Inn hotel room.”
G, in Kenny’s case, is in place of Gorelick. One Kenneth Gorelick, along with musicians Paula Cole, Lorber, Chris Botti, Billy Childs and the horns of Blood, Sweat and Tears, volunteered his talent for an evening of charity at the Academy of Music at Hamilton High School on June 7. The event raised $350,000 for the music magnet school that serves 925 students from 96 ZIP codes in the L.A. area.
A few names at the event: Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Zev Yaroslavsky; 14-time Grammy Award-winner David Foster; and Bobby Colomby, founder of the rock band Blood, Sweat and Tears.
A long list of Jewish men at the Hamilton High event opened up and grew excited to tell about their roots.
Colomby recalled growing up in New York “without trauma or difficulty” with parents who were Holocaust survivors. Of the eight Blood, Sweat and Tears band members in 1967, he said, five were Jewish.
Norm Pattiz, founder and chairman of radio giant Westwood One and donor to both the Hamilton event and the Norman J. Pattiz Concert Hall at Hamilton High, recalled attending the high school back in the 1950s when it had an all-Jewish student body. Lorber spoke of the Jewish value of fostering the arts in children, recalling his own childhood surrounded by music.
But amid the crowd it was Kenny G, minus the Gorelick, who was most comfortable speaking about his Judaism. Cascading curls and all, Kenny played at the benefit like a proper pied piper, finessing the crowd in the aisles of the auditorium.
The event, featuring remarkable performances by Hamilton’s own jazz vocal and instrumental acts, ended with a grand finale performance featuring, among others, Cole on vocals, Kenny G and Botti on wind instruments, the Blood, Sweat, and Tears horn section, and Lorber on piano.
This is not your ordinary high school.