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Stars shine at ‘Nearness of You’ cancer fundraiser concert

BY EVERYNIGHT CHARLEY CRESPO | Elvis Costello, Christopher Cross, Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves and other musicians helped raise more than $1 million for cancer research. Hugh Jackman and Brian Stokes Mitchell were among the celebrity speakers. The star-studded benefit concert was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room on Feb. 6.

Susan Brecker. (Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)
Christopher Cross. (Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

The “The Nearness of You” concert honored the late 15-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Michael Brecker, and was produced by his widow, Susan Brecker, and his longtime manager, Darryl Pitt. Proceeds from the concert support cancer research at Columbia University’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and specifically the work of Doctors Azra Raza and Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Diane Reeves, right, with Romero Lubambo. (Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

“When Michael passed away, I wanted to give back to the cancer community to help patients and the doctors desperately trying to find a cure,” Susan Brecker said in a statement before the concert. “Michael has been gone 17 years, and my commitment to supporting cancer research has only gotten stronger.”

Diana Krall. (Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

Bassist Will Lee served as the event’s musical director. The house band featured Michael Brecker’s brother, trumpet and flugelhorn player Randy Brecker, guitarist Oz Noy, keyboardists Andy Ezrin and Clifford Carter, saxophonists Branford Marsalis and Ada Rovatti, acoustic bassist James Genus, drummer Steve Gadd, and backing vocalists Chrissi Poland and Nicki Richards.

Elvis Costello. (Photo by Everynight Charley Crespo)

The fundraiser was the fourth “Nearness of You” concert. Previous events raised nearly $5 million. These concerts featured performances by James Taylor, Paul Simon, Hugh Jackman, Diana Krall, Chaka Khan and Wynton Marsalis, among others.

“I am honored to be a part of this amazing event with such incredibly talented artists,” Dr. Mukherjee said. “Music, like medicine, has the profound capacity to change lives and I ask for your support to help us to change lives through the creative discoveries we translate into medicine.”


Set list:

The Dipshit (Randy Brecker cover) – House Band

The Nearness of You (Chick Bullock and His Orchestra cover) – Diana Krall, with Branford Marsalis on saxophone

East of the Sun (and West of the Moon) (Brooks Bowman cover) – Diana Krall, with Branford Marsalis on saxophone

Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris cover) – Branford Marsalis

Untitled – Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, with Jake Charkey on cello and Jonathan F.P. Rose on harmonica

Someone To Watch Over Me (George Gershwin cover) – Dianne Reeves, with Romero Lubambo on acoustic guitar

Love Is Here to Stay (George Gershwin cover) – Dianne Reeves, with Romero Lubambo on acoustic guitar

Almost Blue (Elvis Costello & the Attractions song) – Elvis Costello

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (Brinsley Schwarz cover) – Elvis Costello, with Hugh Jackman on backing vocals

Straphangin’ (Michael Brecker cover) – House Band

Sailing – Christopher Cross

Arthur’s Theme – Christopher Cross

Ride Like The Wind – Christopher Cross

Arthur’s Theme Reprise – House Band

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