An unparalleled local jazz lineup rallies to help one of its own, George Young, deal with loss.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Music can help the healing process. For multi-instrumentalist/composer George Young, it’s been vital following the sudden death of his daughter, 41-year-old Dayna Hersh, in late January.
“[Music] has always made it easier for me to express my emotions,” he says.
Young and his wife, Cynthia, were planning to celebrate their daughter’s birthday on a Thursday down in Ventura – only on the preceding Tuesday, Hersh’s 14-year-old son, Shane, found his mother unconscious. She had suffered a massive stroke and died in the hospital shortly thereafter.
“It’s like someone kicking you in the stomach,” Young says. “It was one of the saddest days of our life. You don’t bury a kid. It’s not supposed to work like that.”
The story doesn’t get any better: Hersh had no insurance and the family already faced financial difficulties. Now Dayna’s son and widower may lose their home. A college education is the furthest thing from Shane’s mind.
“[Shane] was left with no future,” Young says. “We really want to help this lad and put some money into the picture so he can go to college.”
In the month that followed Hersh’s death, friends and family requested an address to send flowers.
“Cynthia told them instead of spending money on flowers they should put the money in an envelope for Shane for a college fund,” Young says.
It was that sentiment that sparked “For the Love of Dayna,” two benefit concerts hosted by Lee Durley and David Morwood – showcasing just about every jazz talent on the Peninsula – happening on Sunday, March 20, at La Playa Hotel and the following Sunday at the Hyatt.
More than 20 musicians will perform one song. Vocalist Ree Brunell will unleash silky lounge chops, Mike Marotta will coax powerful sounds from his signature squeeze box, Eddie Mendenhall will show off his expertise behind the piano and Roger Eddy’s saxophone blues will clench the hearts of everyone in the room. And that’s just a fraction of the action: Stu Reynolds, Billy Jones, Kim Edmundson, Mike Shannon, Bob Phillips and Kenny Stahl will also play.
At the second show on Sunday, March 27, Young will debut “Blues for Shane.”
Young has contributed to the music on several affecting soundtracks including All That Jazz, Silent Movie and When Harry Met Sally, but his new blues number channels emotion that simply isn’t present on anything he’s ever composed over his five-decade career. The tune will be played throughout the night in between each performer. The afternoon will culminate in a monster improvised jam session.
“I feel very blessed that the musicians here are incredible about rallying together when someone’s in need,” Young says. “It’s the connection we have with each other as musicians and performers that’s making this happen.”
GEORGE YOUNG AND FRIENDS BENEFIT play 2pm Sunday, March 20, at La Playa Hotel, Camino Real at Eighth Avenue, Carmel. Donations accepted. 624-6476. The second show is 2pm Sunday, March 27, at Fireside Lounge at the Hyatt Monterey, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey. Donations accepted. 372-1234.