Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg will host a special memorial concert Monday, Nov. 6 to honor the life and music of late saxophonist James Casey, who passed away in August at age 40 following a two-year battle with colon cancer.
Rather than a traditional memorial service, Casey wanted his loved ones to throw a party. The public concert will feature musical performances curated by Louis Cato, with Radar Ellis spinning some of Casey's favorite songs throughout the night. Casey had a unique ability to bridge a wide range of musical worlds and artists, and they’ll all be represented onstage.
Tickets go on sale Friday, Oct. 13, with proceeds benefitting the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) and Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists (ABGH) – two organizations dear to his fight against colon cancer.
Casey was an accomplished saxophonist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, musical director, solo artist and colorectal cancer awareness advocate. A longtime member of Trey Anastasio Band and regular guest with Grateful Dead ensembles Billy and the Kids and Phil Lesh and Friends, his influence and collaborations extended across many genres and musical circles.
Recording credits included J.Cole, Jesse McCartney, Chromeo, Talib Kweli, Lettuce, Phish, Danger Mouse and Michael Kiwanuka. Casey was a featured vocalist and bandmember on Meghan Trainor's 2016 Untouchable Tour, directed Shawn Mendes' late night TV musical debut on the Late Show with David Letterman, performed with the Jonas Brothers and Busta Rhymes, guested with Dave Matthews Band, Soulive and many others.
About James Casey:
Born in metro Washington, D.C. and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Casey grew up in a musical family. His passion for music led him to pursue a degree in music business at Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, Casey made lifelong bonds of friendship with fellow students and musicians such as Igmar Thomas, Cato and Eric Krasno, performing at Wally's jazz club before he made the jump to become a full-time musician in New York City. A serendipitous 2012 sit-in with Krasno's band Soulive at Brooklyn Bowl introduced Casey to trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick, who became the catalyst for him to join the notable Trey Anastasio Band horn section, comprised of Casey, Hartswick and Natalie Cressman. He became an in-demand session player and toured the world many times over with many different artists. When not on the road, Casey dedicated time in the studio as a producer and performed with his own band, Animus Rexx.
Following a 2021 performance at Red Rocks with Bill Kreutzmann, he was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer at just 38 years old – well under the recommended age of 45 for first-time colonoscopy screenings. After surgery and rigorous chemotherapy, Casey stayed devoted to his music and continued to perform. Furthermore, he went public with his cancer diagnosis in the hopes of bringing awareness to a disease that is increasingly affecting young people at alarming rates.
Unfortunately, Black Americans are 30% more likely to develop young-onset colorectal cancer, and one in four is diagnosed in the later stages. In addition, the Black community has the second-highest mortality and incidence rates in the U.S., and is 35% more likely to die from the disease. Casey appeared on the Today Show in March 2023 to share his story and discuss the importance of knowing your family history and getting tested early. To learn more about James Casey's cancer battle and advocacy efforts, watch "Music as Medicine: a James Casey story."
As Casey's cancer progressed, he was inspired to finally record and release music under his own name. In November 2022, he announced his first solo work, a holiday EP titled A Little Something For Everyone, which garnered praise among NPR staff picks for the Best Songs of 2022 and raised thousands of dollars for the cancer community. In March 2023, he dropped "New Bloom," his standout single as a solo artist on his forthcoming album, The Kaua'i Project. In the months that followed, and with nothing promised for the future, Casey dripped out two more singles, "E.J.B.M." and "Outside," as he was able.
Following Casey's passing on August 28, 2023, musicians and friends shared words of reverence for Casey's elegant play, kind personality and enduring spirit. He was also honored by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance with the creation of the James Casey Memorial Fund to raise money and awareness for colon cancer prevention.
For more information about James Casey's life and legacy, visit jamescaseysax.com.