On this sunny afternoon in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, around eighty-five of us enjoyed a jazz concert at the Midnight Mission. The tunes coaxed out of the instruments knew few bounds, wafting through the building and into the nearby courtyard as many in the audience hummed, sang, and smiled throughout the generous set lasting more than an hour.
This jazz quartet performed on behalf of Street Symphony, a non-profit which organizes concerts for those in halfway homes, mental institutions, jails and organizations geared toward helping the homeless. Vijay Gupta founded the organization which has produced more than 125 concerts since 2011. This concert began like many others, with the band introducing themselves:
The quartet played mostly standards which delighted the audience with recognized and remembered tunes. Between selections there was a chance for audience members to chat amongst themselves and occasionally share a laugh with one of the players:
To the delight of everyone in the room, the quartet played a heart-warming “Georgia On My Mind” for Community Relations Manager, Georgia Berkovich:
After a few more tunes, the floor was opened up to questions for the band. Here, bassist Putter Smith tells a story of playing with jazz great Thelonius Monk:
Throughout the concert, the audience was very enthusiastic:
When the group finished playing their last song, the audience rushed to the stage area to thank the performers. It was a genuine outpouring of appreciation:
After this successful show, the band got together for a group photo:
Everyone in the room agreed that the Midnight Mission and Street Symphony make a winning combination for the community.