September 11th National Disaster of the attack by the terrorists on the Big Apple and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. were mega-nightmares for ordinary folks who feel that inner peace is an important element in their lives. From ancient times, music has acted as a prayer to bond hearts and souls together. Especially in these hardest of times, the world needs to listen to good music more than ever. Across the States, devoted top artists packed up their gear and touched down at Los Angeles airport to take part in this great event.
I arrived at the Forum, under the hazy California sky, in the early afternoon of Sunday October 14th. The venue is well known as the Lakers' basketball team home stadium. (It's approximately half the size of the Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.) There were already two monster long queues winding along the curved sloping path to the gate entrances. Many of the fans held the Stars and Stripes in their hands, and many wore patriotic pins or bead decorations on their shirts.
Following the final sound-check by music director Jeff Lorber, the house band was warming up on the stage. The lighting team adjusted the ceiling beams to ensure a strong visual impact for the big audience.
The doors opened at 3 p.m. Thousands of lucky people who had managed to grab one of the free tickets filed down into the coliseum for the next hour. According to the stage production office, the 15,000 tickets were all gone within 20 minutes when they became available last week. Tom Frost, who lost his beloved teenage daughter Lisa after she had boarded one of the hijacked jetliners that was crashed into the World Trade Center, simply expressed his deepest regrets but also his hearty appreciation for the gathering. Everyone shed tears of heartrending sympathy for Tom's family's strength of character.
The opener was Kenny G. With his massive hit tune "Silhouette" followed by "Moment". His long circulating breath long, single tone lasted for about five minutes purifying every corner of the hall. Singer Phil Perry's mature and powerful tenor voice led the audience in the Lennon/McCartney peace song "Imagine/Hey Jude". David Benoit performed a colorful melody called "After 911," especially scored for the show.
The veteran WAVE DJ, Talaya introduced Keiko Matsui, the angelic composer who had flown in from Tokyo. She delighted the audience with landscape melodies from her 88 keys taken from her topspin on Billboard this summer, "Deep Blue".
George Duke sat on the acoustic piano bench starting off his appearance with "Amazing Grace," with Marcus Miller on bass clarinet and Harvey Mason on drums. In the next number, funky rich electric bass groover, Marcus conducted a chorus of "Come Together".
British artist Peter White performed "America the Beautiful" solo on his new Nashville-made blue guitar. French guitarist Marc Antoine and veteran R&B vocalist Patti Austin dueted on "Mas Que Nada" in hot spicy salsa mode. Patti followed on with solo acappella of the gospel song "You'll Never Walk Alone" and then "Impossible Dream".
Brenda Russell sang "Get Here". Rick Braun blew his trumpet on "Graze In The Grass". The melting pot welcomed another star, Boney James on "See What I'm Saying". With the appearance of Kirk Whalum on tenor sax, the stage explodes in a blazing brass climax.
Avid fans all over the arena stood to welcome the legendary vocalist, Hollywood's Walk of Fame Al Jarreau's on stage to exercise his miracle vocal spectrum on "God Bless America" and "We're In This Love Together," backed up by the Perri Sisters.
James Ingram and Patti Austin pushed the excitement dramatically upward with "Somewhere Out There" and James continued with "I Believe I Can Fly" accompanied by a large group of female singers.
Host Dave Koz shares his excitement of responding to a late afternoon phone call from Mr. Stevie Wonder! Wow! Wow! The house erupted at the unexpected appearance of the great humanitarian from the Motown decade. His hottest contribution for these special magical moments spins off with J. Coltrane's "Giant Steps," "Overjoyed" and "Ribbon In the Sky" in a seamless medley.
The time flies by as if in a dream. In the final set, Dave invited the all-star cast to the stage to sing "What's Going On," one of Marvin Gaye's greatest hits.
Guitars and saxes, piano and vocals, bass and percussion all incredibly come together in a compassion of good spirits and vibes manifested under the roof of the stadium. The united march for celebrating World Peace has just begun!
The All Star Cast! After briefing, very committed heart-felt prayer led by saxman Kirk Whalum (seated between the ladies in the middle), the group gets ready for grand-slamming for WAVE 94.7 peace event!