Jazz event to benefit foundation

Published 11:35 pm Saturday, February 25, 2012

Three premiere jazz artists will grace the Suffolk riverfront next month to benefit an organization that helps female veterans find life after military service.

Alex Bugnon, Jeff Lorber and James “Saxsmo” Gates will play a concert on March 24 at 7 p.m. at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn. The proceeds will benefit the Gladys Gatlin Foundation.

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“The jazz festival is just a way to let people know what the plight is,” said Aubrey Wilson, director of the foundation.

Wilson said he was inspired to create the foundation in honor of his mother, Gladys Gatlin, who was a cosmetologist and, therefore, the confidante of hundreds of women.

Jazz artists Jeff Lorber and James “Saxsmo” Gates are among the artists who will perform in a benefit event last month for the Gladys Gatlin Foundation.

“I wanted to simultaneously honor my mother and carry on her legacy,” Wilson said.

He created the foundation two years ago to help female veterans adjust to civilian life. Not only do they suffer from the same hardships as their male counterparts — post-traumatic stress disorder, difficulties finding jobs and housing, and other issues — but they also are more likely to have been the victim of military sexual trauma, Wilson said.

According to the National Center for PTSD, about one in five women and one in 100 men screened in Veterans Health Administration facilities reported being a victim of military sexual trauma.

“Most people don’t report it,” Wilson said. “Typically, in the military, the pendulum swings to both extremes. They can treat women like nothing or like prima donnas. Both ways are wrong. You’re supposed to treat them like equals.”

With so many veterans in Hampton Roads — and, by extension, many female veterans — Wilson felt compelled to do something to help them.

“With the wars winding down, we have 100,000 vets coming back,” he said. “Many of them are from Hampton Roads, and 15 percent of them are female.”

The artists lined up for the March benefit are among the most accomplished in the jazz business.

Bugnon studied at the Paris Conservatory and the Mozart Academy in Salzburg, as well as the Berklee School of Music. His recording career began with his 1989 debut album “Love Season” which reached the pop charts and the Top 40 of the R&B charts as did his follow-up “Head Over Heels.” He has won two Soul Train Awards.

Gates also is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and holds a master’s degree in jazz studies from North Carolina Central. He earned both degrees on full scholarships. His CD “It’s Time” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008. Gates is an assistant professor heading the jazz studies curriculum at Virginia State University.

Lorber continues to perform more than three decades after his earliest recordings. His album “Now Is The Time,” was released in June 2010, on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. He released another recording last month titled “Galaxy.”

The 7 p.m. event on March 24 is selling out quickly. Tickets are $47.50. To purchase tickets, call 1-888-600-0437. Special room rates are available. Tickets also can be purchased at the Suffolk Visitor Center, 524 N. Main St., or at Birdland Music in Virginia Beach.