Arturo Sandoval, the Cuban-born musician and Dizzy Gillespie protege, was relaxing in the VIP area just before the 2023 CancerBlows concert on Thursday, March 9, at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
Someone asked the world-renowned, 10-time Grammy winner why he’s shown up for several of these CancerBlows fundraisers, which began in 2015 to help the Ryan Anthony Foundation raise money for cancer research and support programs, with a focus on blood cancers and multiple myeloma.
“Because it’s an extremely noble cause,” replied Sandoval, 73. “The most important thing in life is health. If we don’t have health, we have nothing. It’s important to make a little contribution to such a beautiful cause.”
A little earlier, during a pre-concert reception, Honorary Co-Chairs Diane and Hal Brierley had recalled also serving as honorary chairs at the inaugural CancerBlows event at the Meyerson. That was five years before multiple myeloma took the life of CancerBlows founder Ryan Anthony, principal trumpet with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, at the age of 51.
Ryan “was an inspiration,” Hal said. “Tonight’s about giving back, both to solve the cancer problem, and in memory of Ryan. All of us who knew Ryan are honored to be here.”
Added Diane: “You just wanted to be his friend.”
With that, the Brierleys turned to greet DSO President and CEO Kim Noltemy with Terry Loftis, the orchestra’s recently named Chief Advancement and Revenue Officer, who said he’d been settling into the job by filling several positions and dealing with a lot of “administrative stuff.”
Other guests spotted included Barbara and Bob Sypult, Ellen Winspear, Ryan’s widow Niki Anthony (“It’s good to be back in the Meyerson where we belong!” she said) and CeCe Smith and Ford Lacy.
Also among the nearly 1,200 who attended the event were Honorary Co-Chairs Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger, Robert Kyle, Delia Parman, Irving Groves, Dotti Reeder and D’Andra Simmons and Jeremy Lock.
The concert itself was a two-hour-plus extravaganza in the symphony hall filled with the sound of trombones, flugelhorns, saxophones, tubas — and more trumpets than you could shake a stick at.
The first half featured backing by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra with Brad Hogarth and Jeff Tyzik, while the second part highlighted the One O’Clock Lab Band (from the University of North Texas) and Alan Baylock. Appearing throughout were members of Canadian Brass, with whom Ryan played in the early 2000s.
The evening had multiple highlights, including:
- The world premiere of a song called “Love & Tears for Ukraine,” featuring Allen Vizzutti on flugelhorn.
- A rousing version of “Beale Street Blues,” which ended with 18 horn players stretched across the stage.
- Trombone virtuoso Wycliffe Gordon and soprano saxophonist Adrian Cunningham playing “Sweet Louisiana,” a special request by Niki.
- Arturo’s performances on “Turi’s Mambo” and “Funky Cha Cha,” which followed his impromptu, off-the-script solo trumpet rendition of “Amazing Grace” — just because “I want to play something soft first,” he told the crowd.
The program’s big finale was “One O’Clock Jump,” arranged by Tommy Newsom of the old Tonight Show band. It spotlighted no fewer than 21 players — including Rowan Anthony, Niki’s and Ryan’s son, who toted Ryan’s trumpet onstage in a fitting final poignant tribute to his late father.
The concert benefited UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron