Arts Listings

Benefit Rounds Up West Coast Jazz Talent

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday June 01, 2007

Bay Area percussionist and educator Babatunde Lea will host a benefit Monday with a stellar lineup of West Coast jazz musicians to raise money for medical treatment for his middle daughter, championship athlete Tanya Lazar-Lea. 

The benefit will feature his quartet (Richard Howell, Glen Pearson and Geoff Brennan) with guests, trombonist Steve Turre, percussionist Bujo Kevin Jones, and Los Angeles vocalist Dwight Trible, 

Other performers on this bill include Khalil Shaheed and his Mo’ Rockin’ Project, vocalists Faye Carroll and Madeleine Eastman, drummer Vince Lateano, Frankie Kelly, David Gonzalez, the Bud Spangler Quartet, with singer Ed Reed, drummer Eddie Marshall’s Holy Mischief, Keith Terry and the All-Slamming Body Band, Linda Tillery’s Cultural Heritage Band, vocalist Rhonda Benin, past-San Francisco poet laureate Devorah Major and jazz poetry with UpSurge! 

Tanya Lazar-Lea’s troubles began at 19, when a vertibra in her lower back was broken in a fall on a high jump bar. A Vallejo High School championship athlete, whose records still stand, Lazar-Lea had been awarded a scholarship to UC Berkeley.  

“The permanent damage led to adrenal gland problems,” said her father, “and after a car accident in 2004, Medi-Cal refused to fund her ongoing treatment. She’s needed a concert of doctors, but instead has been sent to one, then another, until the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing.”  

Lazar-Lea is now living with her parents in Vallejo and doing her own research on her condition. “After 14 years, she’s pretty good at it, leading the doctors to where the problems are,” her father said. “She has that tenaciousness athletes have, to do what they have to do.” 

Babatunde, who plays set drums and congas, first arrived in the Bay Area in 1966, later had a stint in New York until 1977, resettled in San Francisco, and moved to Vallejo in 1991. 

He and his wife, Dr. Virginia Lea, a Sonoma State professor, founded the Edu-Cultural Foundation ( in 1993 to teach critical thinking in cultural and social studies through the arts, working with various West Coast schools. 

“Outside of an incredible night of music,” Babatunde said, “we want to fill the room with love and support to raise Tanya’s spirits, then go to work to get her what she needs, to give her back a degree of real independence, the quality of life she deserves.” 



7 p.m. Monday at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. (at 27th Street). $25 donation requested.  

For Information call Arts First, Oakland at 444-8511.