July 21, 2024


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Branford Marsalis, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall to perform at cancer research benefit: Photos, Video

The Nearness of You Concert to support cancer research at Columbia University Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) is slated for Tuesday, February 6 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in New York City.

Honoring the memory of 15-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Michael Brecker, the benefit concert will feature performances by Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Christopher Cross, Dianne Reeves and Branford Marsalis. The musical director is Will Lee with an all-star band featuring Randy Brecker and Steve Gadd, among others.

“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.”

Proceeds from the concert will support cancer research at HICCC and specifically the pioneering work of Azra Raza, MD and Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil. Co-produced by Susan Brecker, Michael Brecker’s widow and Darryl Pitt, his longtime manager, previous Nearness of You concerts have raised nearly five million dollars and have featured James Taylor, Paul Simon, Hugh Jackman, Diana Krall, Chaka Khan and Wynton Marsalis.

“I am honored to be a part of this amazing event with such incredibly talented artists,” said Siddhartha Mukherjee. “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.”

“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,” said Susan Brecker. “Michael has been gone 17 years, and my commitment to supporting cancer research has only gotten stronger.”

Michael Brecker recorded and performed with a veritable who’s who of jazz and pop giants spanning Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Parliament-Funkadelic, Bruce Springsteen, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Charlie Haden, McCoy Tyner, Pat Metheny, Frank Zappa, James Taylor, and Paul Simon, to name but a few. In addition, Brecker’s harmonic and rhythmic innovations have affirmed him as one of the most studied musicians in music schools throughout the world.

In 2005, Brecker was diagnosed with Myelodisplastic Syndromes (MDS). In need of a bone marrow transplant, the International Bone Marrow Registry was searched for a matching donor. A match was not found. Tens of thousands of people registered worldwide in an effort to save Brecker’s life, but a matching donor was still not found and on January 13, 2007, Brecker died at age 57.

Michael Brecker with Henry Johnson & Roy Haynes. 

Columbia is a national leader in MDS research. Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) are a group of blood and bone marrow diseases that devastate the body’s ability to produce healthy blood cells. There is currently no cure for MDS and treatment options are limited. One third of MDS patients develop acute leukemia. Dr. Raza, Dr. Mukherjee and their colleagues at Columbia are working to change this by investigating the extraordinary power of stem cells to replenish blood cells for the possible benefit of its patients.

Columbia physicians treat patients from around the world, creating unique opportunities for collaborations and shared resources, including Columbia’s housing of the country’s largest MDS tissue repository. This combination of clinical and research expertise has positioned Columbia to make significant strides in the search for treatments and a cure for MDS and leukemia.

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