Last night, the New York live music scene came together at the Brooklyn Bowl to celebrate the life and music of the late and beloved saxophonist James Casey, who passed away in August after a two-year battle with colon cancer. In the face of his harsh reality, Casey remained committed to and in love with music, performing with an incredible array of musicians at every opportunity and shining as a prominent member of Trey Anastasio Band.
In line with his indomitable spirit, those who experienced his energy and witnessed his music united for an evening of collaboration, respect and community as the Brooklyn Bowl’s stage welcomed the most performers on its stage at once in its history.
The venue was fitting for the gathering as Casey’s rise to stardom began when his path crossed with trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick at a 2012 Bowlive run, resulting in further collaborations with Soulive and Lettuce. Notably, Ryan Zoidis, the saxophonist for Lettuce, honored Casey throughout the evening by beautifully handling the saxophone.
The party began with a speech by the owner of Brooklyn Bowl, Pete Shapiro, before the host of the evening, Ari Fink, welcomed the guests. The music didn’t wait to begin, and Louis Cato, the bandleader of The Late Show Band, got the evening underway with “Family Affair.” He was joined by Reuben Cainer, DJ Ginyard, Negah Santos, Randy Runyon, James Williams, and Corey Bernhard, who assisted him in welcoming the night by dishing out fresh renditions of “The Payback” followed by “Pleasure” with included members of Casey’s band Animus Rexx. They continued with “The Big Payback,” which also featured members of 6 Figures.
After the first segment, the evening paused to acknowledge the advocacy groups that are committed to preventing a loss like Casey’s from happening in the future. The groups recognized over the evening included the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) and the Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists (ABGH), to which proceeds from the show will be donated.
Next, Fink welcomed Trey Anastasio Band to the stage. The lineup included Mike Maher on trumpet, Alecia Chakour, Erin Boyd, Elenna Canlas and Jo Lampert on vocals, along with core members Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, Russ Lawton, Cyro Baptista, Ray Paczkowski and Dezron Douglas. They opened with “Mozambique” before an uplifting “Everything’s Right.” Next came TAB’s debut of “Express Yourself,” a song in line with the tender and free energy Casey exhibited on stage and in life before they rounded out the appearance with “Rise/Come Together.”
After the segment set in, Fink returned to the stage to thank the members of TAB and to welcome the next part of the party, a super jam heralded by percussionist Nikki Glaspie. Glaspie and her crew flowed through “I Don’t Know What You Come To Do,” “Go-go Medley,” and “Remember The Children.” Without missing a beat, Cato returned to the stage to share a few words before welcoming back the collection of talent to the stage for a huge finale comprised of “I Want To Take You Higher” and an original song by Casey, “E.J.B.M.”
There are more than 1.5 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States. The CDC estimates that 68% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided if all eligible people got screened. Learn more about screenings and support research via the Colorectal Cancer Alliance here.
Photographers Marc Millaman and Kenneth Spielman captured the action from the party below.