‘Ladies in Red’ honor jazz musicians, aid preservation

“Ladies in Red” — and in scarlet, crimson, vermilion, carmine, cerise, magenta, claret, cherry and maroon — will gather June 14 to honor New Orleans jazz musicians and institutions while raising money for preservation.

The event raises money for the African American Heritage Preservation Program at the Preservation Resource Center.

“Ladies in Red” will take place at the Cannery, 3803 Toulouse St., beginning with a patron party at 7 p.m. and continuing with a gala from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Guests will enjoy food, open bar and music by the NOCCA Jazz Ensemble and Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs.

Edgar Chase III is chairman of the program. Honorary chairmen of Ladies in Red are Michael Lewis, author of “The Blind Side,’’ and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield.

This year’s honorees are trombonist Lucien Barbarin, vocalist Lean Chase-Kamata, drummer Benny Jones, trombonist Freddie Lonzo, drummer Herlin Riley and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

Barbarin, reared in a musical family, has performed around the world, including President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, with the Preservation Hall Band, and the Harry Connick Jr. Orchestra and Big Band.

Chase-Kamata is the daughter of Edgar “Dooky’’ Chase Jr. and Leah Chase, head chef and the power behind Dooky Chase’s Restaurant.

Chase-Kamata studied at Loyola University and Julliard, and now shares her knowledge with music students at the University of New Orleans and Tulane University.

Traditional music is snare drummer Benny Jones’ lifeblood. He leads the Tremé Brass Band, and tells anyone who wants to hire a band that if they want modern music they’d better hire a young band. He says he’s “going to play the old, traditional music of the streets.’’

Freddie Lonzo, who’s been playing the trombone since age 13, cites Kid Ory as one of his mentors. Beginning with performing for neighborhood parades, he moved up to the Storyville Jazz Band, the Olympia Brass Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

NOCCA’s alumni include some of the most successful of New Orleans’ musicians, including Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr. and Terrence Blanchard.

Arranging the fundraiser fell to Nicole Blackmon Lewis (no relation to writer Michael Lewis) and Anna and Adam Breaux. The three were assisted by scores of volunteers, a necessity, as Anna Breaux climbed Mount Rainier just days before the party, and Lewis, a widow with an 11-year-old son, travels for her work arranging online educational classes for homebound high school students.

Asked if she has a special red dress that she saves for the annual party, Lewis laughed. “No, it gives me an excuse to get a new one,’’ she said. Red is really not my thing. ’m deeply involved with my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which is an international service organization, so I tend to wear its colors — pink and green. But there are many shades of red, so I usually can find something I like.’’

Lewis inherited her association with the PRC from her mother, Janie Blackmon, who, along with Annie Avery, Edgar Chase III and Germaine Bazzle, founded the AAHP in 1997.

Proceeds from Ladies in Red help fund plaques placed on former homes of early jazz greats — recent honorees are Tom Brown, Armand Hug, Alphonse Picou and Joe “King’’ Oliver.

Another important project of the AAHP is My City, My Home, which teaches schoolchildren about New Orleans’ culture, especially music and architecture.

Both Suzanne Blaum, director of education and outreach for the PRC, and Nicole Lewis stressed the importance of the educational program.

The group also sponsors a career day to show youngsters possible careers in craftsmanship, building, city planning and similar fields.

For more information on the gala, call (504) 581-7032.