Nightly News | December 03, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Finally tonight, more proof that just because you've entered your golden years, you don't have to give up your passion. There's a special organization that's helping musicians who've still got it keep the music going. Here's NBC 's Mara Schiavocampo and all that jazz.
MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO reporting: At a music school in the shadow of a New York City subway line, an ode to the A-Train , a jazz quartet playing the Duke Ellington classic for teens who have probably never heard it before. But just minutes into the hour-long performance, this audience develops a new appreciation for these old hits.
Unidentified Man #1: It was very lively.
Unidentified Man #2: The music, it really made you feel really good.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: The performance was organized by the Jazz Foundation of America , a nonprofit that pays jazz and blues greats for gigs at schools and nursing homes, providing them a much-needed source of income.
Ms. BERTHA HOPE: Would you have fallen thought the cracks without them? Oh, for sure, yeah.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Seventy-five -year-old Bertha Hope has been tickling the ivories since she was a kid. She has no plans to stop.
Ms. HOPE: Jazz musicians do not retire, they just fall to the wayside.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Hope 's bandmates on this day include tenor sax Fred Staten , who at 96 was born before the Jazz Age . The Jazz Foundation doesn't only pay for play. It helps musicians with just about anything, from rent, to groceries, to arranging free medical care. Crucial support for a group often paid little over the years with no safety net as they age.
Mr. JOEY MORANT (Jazz Trumpeter): The Jazz Foundation is like the rescuer, like the fire department.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Funding comes from private donations.
Ms. WENDY OXENHORN (Jazz Foundation of America): This is repayment. This is the one charity I know where you're giving back to people who made the world beautiful.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Giving musicians a new life and keeping an American art form alive. Mara Schiavocampo, NBC News, New York.