In March 2009, we found out that Montclair composer and big band leader Diane Moser was seriously ill and had stopped her monthly jazz gigs at Trumpets. A website had been set up to help raise money for her medical care. She had recently been diagnosed with GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor) and the prognosis was dire.
“I walked into that hospital in Stage 4,” Moser says. “I was literally dying.”
Now, the 53-year-old musician is cancer free, and Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band will celebrate its 14th year with a performance at Trumpets Jazz Club on Wednesday
June January 26 at 8 p.m.
Moser’s survival is due, in no small part, to the Dizzie Gillespie Memorial Fund, based at Englewood Hospital, which pays for hospitalizations, tests and medical care for jazz musicians. She was able to establish her musical chops by picking up a copy of Hot House Magazine that was in the waiting room, and showing the staff that she was listed in it.
When she first met her oncologist, Francis Forte, he wanted to talk about music before cancer, Moser says. When she had her surgery, a few days later, they removed a 13-pound tumor. “I walked out Stage 0.”
Moser has worked plenty since that surgery, probably more than she should have. Among her projects: composing and arranging the music for the award-winning short documentary “Breaking Boundaries: The Art of Alex Masket.” Her big band last performed together at the Lake George Jazz Weekend in September 2009.
The 17-piece big band plays original work that ranges from “really straight ahead jazz to avant garde.”
Trumpets is located at 6 Depot Square in Montclair. The Composers Big Band Concert is on Wed. January 26 from 8 to 11 p.m. Cover is $15.
Photo: Dennis Connors