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An Evening with Jazz Legend Al Gallodoro

Photo by Pat Kuharic
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On September 8, Al Gallodoro, a 91-years-young master of saxophone and clarinet, delighted the audience that filled Uris Auditorium with his music and with his secrets to his longevity.

Mr. Gallodoro's career has spanned the history of modern music. He is best known as a saxophonist and clarinetist with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. A master musician of many genres, he has also worked with Arturo Toscanini, Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, and Percy Faith. Over 20 arrangements have been written for him, including Gallodoro's Serenade for Saxophone and Piano by Ferde Grofe. He has also appeared in several films.

Mr. Gallodoro performed samplings of his repertoire, accompanied by Gabe Shuford on piano. Grammy-award-winning jazz clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera made a special guest appearance. The jam session performed by these two jazz legends brought the crowd to its feet.

In between sets, Dr. Mark Lachs asked Mr. Gallodoro about his life, both past and present. Oftentimes, Mr. Gallodoro's daughter Alice participated in the discussion. Mr. Gallodoro's grandson and his wife also attended this special event.

A reception followed in the Weill-Cornell Medical Library, where medical students excitedly conversed not only with Mr. Gallodoro, but also with another special attendee, Ms. Helen Reichert, the oldest living Cornell University alumni (seen below with members of the Geriatric Student Interest Group)*. Ms. Reichert made sure she let Mr. Gallodoro know that this was "the best jazz I've heard in 102 years!"

Photo by Pat Kuharic
The night was an eminent success. As third-year medical student Tzivia Moreen commented, "I thought the program was fantastic, not only because it was a 91-year-old still going strong with a terrific pair of lungs, but also because he had a wonderful perspective on life and a wicked sense of humor. He embodied the concept of aging well both physically and mentally. I hope I can be like him at 91!"

Two things about the evening were especially memorable for Nick Connors, a second-year medical student: "His daughter's concern for her father and her anxiety over his safety and ability to get along on his own were so normal, but her love of watching him play the saxophone and seeing how it pleased him made their relationship so special. It seemed that she was completely happy during his concert. Also, hearing Paquito rave about how Al Gallodoro was a legend in his own household and shaped the way he played music hinted at what an incredible musician Mr. Gallodoro is."

The event was co-sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs Humanities and Medicine Series and the Weill Cornell Medical Student Geriatrics Interest Group.

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