All that jazz

There’s nothing unusual about public-relations folks letting you know a professional jazz musician will be teaching at a local jazz camp. It’s also fairly common that the pitch includes a side angle—the musician’s battle against a disease—that can add an interesting layer to such a story. What can be curious is who is actually pushing for the piece.

Bassist Jim Widner, who has played with such jazz luminaries as Clark Terry, Buddy DeFranco and Bill Watrous, is celebrating his 20th year of teaching jazz camps, including his most recent July 8-13 stint at CSUS. We received e-mails alerting us to Widner’s arrival and the fact that in 1996 the musician was diagnosed with hepatitis C, a potentially life-threatening, blood-borne disease that afflicts millions of Americans.

Several paragraphs into the pitch letter, we learn that Widner began therapy by injecting Pegintron powder and ingesting Rebetola capsules. And lo and behold, the story pitch includes a link to a Web page extolling the wonders of Pegintron and Rebetola, which are but two of the thousands of products (including Coppertone sun-tan lotion) available from Schering-Plough Corporation, a Kenilworth, New Jersey-based health-care company that racked up $10.6 billion in 2006 net sales.

And the band played on.