SAN DIEGO — Some of San Diego's most popular jazz groups will come together tonight for a benefit concert to raise money for local jazz-soul singer Ella Ruth Piggee's medical bills.
Piggee, who has been performing in San Diego for seven years, was hospitalized April 29 to have a tumor removed, but she has no medical insurance.
"There's no organized medical plan for musicians," said saxophonist Hollis Gentry, founder of the jazz-fusion band Neon, who will be the last group to play tonight. "That's why we're forced to do this. Musicians have always rallied together for their peers."
Piggee was released from the hospital 1 1/2 weeks ago and is recovering at home. She said she didn't know what her medical expenses would total.
"They just keep rolling in," she said. "I was hospitalized for 17 days, so you can imagine how much they're going to be. "I don't think they're shooting to raise a certain amount, but it's just great knowing they're standing by me."
The benefit was organized by Larry Himmel of Channel 8's "San Diego At Large" and a disc jockey on adult-contemporary/jazz radio station KIFM-FM. All of the bands are working for free, and the Bahia Hotel has donated its ballroom and $1 from each drink to the cause, said Bill Evans, the hotel's general manager.
The night's activities will begin at 6 p.m. with the jazz band Secrets. Piggee's own band, Talk of the Town, and jazz-fusion group Fattburger also will perform. Tickets will be on sale at the door for $10.
Piggee said she would like to make the show but is still awaiting her doctor's permission.
"I can't sit up for too long," she said. "But if I can't make it, they'll know I'm with them."
The singer hopes to be back on her feet and performing again by July.
"That's all I know how to do," she said.