For more than two decades, noted jazz saxophonist Eric Marienthal (a Newport Beach resident) has hosted an annual benefit concert at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach to raise funds for High Hopes Brain Injury Program.
This year’s 23rd annual Eric Marienthal and Friends Concert was held on Sunday, July 17 at the Hyatt Regency featuring fellow saxman Euge Groove and special surprise guest trumpeter Rick Braun.
More than 600 jazz fans enjoyed the superb musicianship while raising $120,000 for High Hopes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals recover from traumatic brain injuries.
The Tulsa Rib Company hosted the VIP reception where guests relished a dining experience along with a hosted bar and entertainment by the Ron Kobayashi Trio with special guest artist, singer and songwriter Mary Desmond.
Former KSBR 88.5FM DJ Kelly Bennett served as Master of Ceremonies along with Mark Desmond, the director of High Hopes.
During the concert, an assortment of cheeses, fruits, veggies, and light bites of finger foods such as nachos and quesadillas was available for guests to enjoy throughout the evening.
Eric Marienthal took the stage and opened the show with “Street Dance” from his 1994 album, then went into “Two in One,” “New York State of Mind,” and his hits “Compared to What,” “Babycakes” and “You Ga (Ta Give It).”
Marienthal’s special guest was saxophonist Euge Groove who entertained the crowd with a medley of hits, “House of Groove,” “Dirty Dozen,” and “Just my Imagination.”
Surprise guest trumpeter Rick Braun came out and joined in with “Livin Large.” The evening ended with the crowd on their feet dancing to all three musicians playing back to back “Old.Edu,” “From the Top,” and an encore of “Grazin’ In the Grass.”
Marienthal’s all-star band consisted of Andre Berry on bass guitar, George Whitty on keyboards; on drums, Eric Valentine, Tony Pulizzi on guitar, and Joey De Leon on percussion.
Honored this year for the High Hopes Lifetime Achievement Award was the late Dr. Marshall Grossman, who passed away on December 20, 2021; his wife Lori came to accept the award. Dr. Grossman served as Board President of High Hopes for 20 years, and in honor of his memory, High Hopes has set up a scholarship in his name.
In addition to a live and silent auction, an impromptu item was added for sale: Eric Marienthal’s colorful shirt he was wearing. A guest raised his hand and said he’d like to purchase it, so after it was agreed upon for sale, the bidding war began. The final bid of $4,000 came from Dawn Bennett of Mission Viejo.
Sponsors for the event were H&H Lee Foundation, Xerox, Millie and Severson General Contractors, Stirling Properties, Carolyn & James Reed, The Keith Family Fund at California Community Foundation, The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, Smooth Jazz News, and 94.7 The Wave.
Established in 1975, High Hopes Brain Injury Program is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and retraining of those who have been devastated by brain injuries. The program at High Hopes is unique as its physical programs include conditioning classes, therapeutic swimming, nautilus weight training, physical therapy, and rehabilitation activities for cognitive and social challenges. Other services include vocational art classes, pre-vocational training, music classes, community activities, independent living classes, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
For more information, visit High Hopes at www.HighHopesBrainInjury.org.