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The Crowd: Jazz concert benefits High Hopes Head Injury Program

Vicky and Bernie Dresel
Attending the jazz concert in Newport Beach, Vicky and Bernie Dresel help raise funds for the High Hopes Head Injury Program.
(Photo by Sheri Determan)

Summer concerts under the stars are a staple of the good life in Orange County. They also rally the public in support of worthy causes. Among the most popular events is the annual jazz concert on the greens of the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach that benefits the High Hopes Head Injury Program.

Celebrating the 21st installment of the Eric Marienthal and Friends Concert, more than 1,000 fans gathered for a sold-out performance featuring Grammy-winner Lee Ritenour and returning O.C. favorite Rick Braun on his amazing trumpet. More than $100,000 was raised.

“This year a segment of the funds raised will support a scholarship program that assists 95% of High Hopes students, covering attendance costs,” said Mark Desmond, director of the High Hopes Head Injury Program. “Some of the funds will also support the purchase of needed rehabilitation equipment required in the scope of brain-injury recovery treatment.”

The vital importance of this therapy has been a personal passion of jazz artist Marienthal, and for over two decades he has enlisted the talents of many exceptional jazz artists worldwide to bring the High Hopes message into a wider frame of reference within the general public.


The lively crowd dined al fresco on a barbecue spread provided by the Tulsa Rib Co. as the talented Ron Kobayashi Trio, with song stylist Mary Desmond, entertained. Then it was time for Marienthal to kick the show into high gear, opening with “Shake It Loose” from his 1994 “Street Dance” album. The crowd obliged.

Following a set by Marienthal that included renditions of “One For James,” a tribute to James Brown, “Cotton Club” and more, guest artist Rick Braun followed, opening with “Get Up and Dance.” Again, the crowd obliged. His set included “Notorious,“ “Wade in the Water” and “Grazin’ in the Grass.”

For a third act, Lee Ritenour charmed the audience with selections from his “6 String Theory” album, playing “Lay it Down” followed by “Wes Bound” and “Night Rhythms” from his “Festival” album.

Sponsors included Xerox, James and Carolyn Reed, 94.7 the Wave, the Hyatt Regency, KSBR Radio and KJazz 88.1FM.


Spotted in the crowd were Tracey Desmond, Dani White, Patrick Fen, Lee Ann Marienthal, Dr. Marshall Grossman, Jennifer Van Gender and Debbie Falangas.

Established in 1975, High Hopes Head Injury Program is dedicated to the rehabilitation and retraining of those with devastating brain injuries. The program at High Hopes includes conditioning classes, therapeutic swimming, Nautilus weight training, physical therapy and rehabilitation activities for cognitive and social challenges.

Other services include vocational art classes, prevocational training, music classes, community activities, independent living classes, occupational and speech therapy. Now in its 44th year, High Hopes’ goal is to provide the best possible program to those who have brain injuries and get results that exceed expectations.

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