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Jazz greats help raise diabetes awareness

The Franklin Hospital Medical Center held its 3rd Annual Diabetes Awareness Jazz Concert/Fund-raiser June 5 at the Dever School Auditorium on Corona Avenue in Valley Stream.

Performing that night were many celebrated jazz musicians who have played extensively with the likes of Count Basie, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, the Saturday Night Live Band, and Charlie Parker to name just a few.

The night was both a celebration of deceased legendary trombonist Al “Fab” Grey's life and career in the world of music and entertainment, and the need to increase alertness about the secret killer Diabetes. Grey died just a few years ago from complications stemming from a life time battle with this disease.

The Renegades Advanced High School Jazz Ensemble, followed by the renowned Al Grey Legacy Band and the main event of the evening, the Clark Terry and Friends Jazz ensemble performed while a visual tribute to Grey’s legacy in the form of a continuous 15-foot by 8-foot slide show projected many of Al Grey’s celebrity friends from all over the world, including Tony Bennett, Wynton Marsalis, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Sir Roland Hanna, Milt “The Judge” Hinton, Jane Jarvis and the Statesmen of Jazz—a world-touring ensemble of septuagenarian to nonagenarian Jazz legends still recording today on the Arbor Records label.

Joining Al’s son Mike Grey on stage were giants of the jazz world of current times and many who made the Jazz Big Bands of the ‘40s and ‘50s a key component of the great American history of this country. Performing in various sets and ensemble groupings throughout the evening were legendary jazz men like the indefatigable television personality, Clark “Mumbles” Terry, Charlie Parker alumnus Don Friedman, Marcus McLaurine of Count Basie fame, five-time Grammy award winner Don Sickler, Basie alumnus Benny Powell, jazz icon and Basie alumnus Frank Wess, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall Jazz orchestra youngbloods Wycliffe Gordan and Steve Turre, Joe Cohn on acoustic electric guitar, Daryl Hall, Ed Ciarello, and celebrated BET songstress Vanessa Rubin.

Tunes like “Now is The Time,” “April in Paris,” “Pieces Wild” and the whole ensemble’s sing-along of “Happy Birthday Al” made the evening sweet with memories of the greatness of this unique American art form, and lastingly special for a community of jazz lovers who gathered together for the third consecutive year to continue to highlight the importance of diabetes awareness.

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