A jazz band for the ages

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A jazz band for the ages
A jazz band for the ages
Nursing home residents — especially long-term residents — deserve to have the best entertainment that money can buy. Unfortunately, most nursing home activity directors don't have the budget to draw musicians of that caliber. But Gary Gamponia, director of the Los Angeles-based Pay It Forward jazz band, is determined to change this. For free.

Prior to starting his band, he set out to become an expert on nursing home musical offerings, so he attended more than 200 performances and came to one conclusion: The offerings were (mostly) dismal.

“There needs to be some organization that is willing to stand up and say, ‘These people were raised on Benny Goodman and Glen Miller,'” Gamponia says.

To rectify this, Gamponia formed the Pay It Forward jazz band, which performs exclusively to skilled nursing facilities and primarily plays jazz standards. Pay It Forward has a rotating roster of about 140 musicians in Los Angeles alone. Gamponia has helped launch other Pay It Forward troupes in San Jose, CA, and San Diego.

“These [residents] are people who built this country after the Great Depression, the people who defeated fascism and kept this country a democracy. When we do a show, we say that this is our way of saying thank you to that generation,” Gamponia added.
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