For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment
George V Johnson Jr Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie @ Israel International Super Jazz Festival Ashdod 2009. My 2nd visit to Israel. 1st visit was 4 months after 9/11.
I had just flown to Albuquerque, NM, on September 10, and stayed at the Historic B'n'B, the JAZZ INN, with concerts scheduled in Santa Fe and Taos. The next morning, 9/11, we turned on the TV news of the Twin Tower bombings. It was unbelievable. Everyone was in tears. Five months later, and after two postponements, due to terrorist attacks, I received an unbelievable call, early one Sunday morning, requesting that I come to Israel to perform. I was excited, but really shocked!
My family and friends were very concerned about my well being and tried to convince me not to go. At the time I only had one gig on my calendar and I wanted to see what it was like, so with a two-week notice, I canceled a club engagement and was on my way. It was called The 2nd International Artist Conclave Jerusalem, "God Bless the Child" Film Documentary. In Solidarity with all Children in Conflict. "A 7-day concert tour with 15-year former "Tonight Show" Saxophonist and Educator, Arnie Lawrence (Jewish) Founder of the New School in NYC", said the voice on the other end of the phone. The year prior there were award presentation and concerts by legendary drummer Max Roach and saxophonist James Moody "MOODY'S Mood for Love". Also on the flight was Blues singer, Evelyn Blakey, drummer Art Blakey's daughter, her manager Lord Allah and Roxanne Butterfly-Jazz Tap dancer extraordinaire who's nationality was French Moroccan.
Upon arrival we were greeted at the airport in high fashion, by Arnie playing on his saxophone "when the Saints Come Marching In" with crowds watching on. With Arnie was a cameraman filming every step we took, everyday. A dark skinned Egyptian driver in a Mercedes Station wagon chauffeured us daily. He looked like a normal black man that you would see anywhere and spoke Arabic and English as well. During the week, we made appearances and performed at Arnie's Jazz/Ness Cafe, YMCA Hall, at the top of Mt. Meirom (overlooking the Sea of Galilee), The Galil, Hemdat Yamin, Haifa, Mt Olive and in Tel Aviv at Snyder's Children Hospital (center court concert) and a special presentation for the children in the Kidney dialysis section who were not able to attend.
The band consisted of (Palestinians) Muslims, Jews and Christians with nothing but creativity and love. The instruments used weren't your typical instruments that you would hear in a regular jazz band. Some were the same instruments that were used thousands of years ago along with piano, saxophones, vocal and tap.