Music Greats Support CUCS’s Worthy Cause

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[Entertainment: Music]


Philanthropy and music embraced in a celebration of good-will at an event hosted by The Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), recently.

The musical benefit themed “Band Together” was at the Lefrak Theatre, American Museum of Natural History -- proceeds will assist CUCS in it’s goal of curbing the homelessness crisis that is now at record levels in New York City. 

As highlighted in the event’s film presentation “Rebuilding Lives Together” CUCS has been hands on in it’s approach to helping the less fortunate in our society in their struggle to regain hope and dignity in their lives. The testimonials by beneficiaries of CUCS’s programs spoke volumes to the invaluable role of the organization.

Host for the evening, CBS 2 News anchor Maurice Dubois, introduced the audience to the Seamus Blake Quartet, the first of the two bands chosen for the occasion.   

With many accolades under his belt as a saxophonist/composer, Mr. Blake and his trio treated the audience to a sample of his compositions which included “Jupiter Rising”  featuring the very accomplished and spirited Dave Kikosi on piano. Invoking the evening’s theme and much to the audience’s delight, the quartet which also included bassist Danton Boller and drummer Donald Edwards “banded” with soprano saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and vocalist Norah Jones on her song “Northern Lights.”

Following Mr. Blake- in somewhat of an interlude - was an appearance by special guest Norah Jones. Playing on acoustic piano, her voice crystal-clear and sultry, this multiple Grammy Award winner reminded as to why amidst the din that is now popular music she still reigns with crossover appeal. 

Included in her repertoire was the playful love-ballad to her dog, which left one to muse as to whether any canine has ever been so honored; and to crave just a bit more of her short yet remarkable performance.

Ravi Coltrane Quartet  appeared last on the program and continued to grace the evening with excellence renditions. Like Norah, the daughter of legendary Indian composer/ sitarist Ravi Sankar, the young Coltrane is proof of the genetic advantage that underlies the mastery of talent. The son of the prolific jazz saxophonist/ composer John Coltrane, Ravi shows that as a chip of the old block he is destined to continue this legacy. 

With quartet members Drew Gress on bass, Luis Perdomo on piano and EJ Strickland on drums the Coltrane ensemble treated the audience to a impressive session which included a tribute to his son entitled “One Wheeler For Will.”

The evening’s finale consisted of a collaboration in which Seamus Blake and Dave Kikosi on soprano sax together with the Coltrane quartet succeeding in ‘bringing down the house’ on this very special evening. The wonderful event was held on June 2nd.


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