SAN ANTONIO – Jazz lovers tuned in at 7 p.m. Friday to hear musicians from the Count Basie and Vancouver Orchestras and others staging a live online benefit concert for well-known jazz trombonist Ron Wilkins, who is originally from San Antonio.
"It could have been 10 hours long if we called everybody that we wanted to," said Rebecca Patterson, Wilkins' close friend.
Wilkins, who has COVID-19, is now in a local rehabilitation facility on the road to recovery after being hospitalized and put on a respirator for 33 days.
Patterson said the concert was on his website, as well as on his Facebook page.
"He's doing amazingly well. He's just so determined and resilient," Patterson said about Wilkins.
She said his website also makes it possible for jazz lovers to help with his medical costs.
"We're not sure what they're going to be yet, but they're going to be extensive. That's for sure," Patterson said.
She said Wilkins is a survivor after having a kidney transplant seven years ago and another "intense surgery" later.
"He's always just bounced back and defied the odds and had such a wonderful attitude," Patterson said.
Living in New York City, Patterson said Wilkins returned to his hometown after the Broadway tour of "Aladdin" in Austin was canceled due to the pandemic.
Despite taking precautions against the virus, Patterson said Wilkins tested positive with COVID-19 a month later.
"We're fairly confident he caught it in San Antonio. Otherwise, he would have had some more severe symptoms sooner," Patterson said.
By then, Wilkins had posted a message on his Facebook talking about a friend of his.
“He’s on the tail end of dealing with his coronavirus, and it’s nasty, really nasty, and it’s deadly. So y’all really need to be careful,” Wilkins said in his post.