After stroke, jazz man ‘on the mend,’ tickling the ivories once more

Jazz keyboard man Dick Fazio isn’t letting a stroke keep him from playing.

Fazio, leader of the Friday night jazz band at Pogo’s Tavern, suffered a stroke May 27. Although he says his recovery is at “60 to 70 percent right now,” he’s feeling strong enough to return to Pogo’s to participate in its vastly expanded jazz program. While he’s still in the process of rehabilitating his left hand, Fazio’s right hand is as nimble as ever — so much so that he teamed up with Joe Kennedy in a piano duet gig Thursday night at the bar, at 2103 N. Decatur Blvd.

In addition to the 8 p.m. Friday jam, Rocky Gordon and his six-piece contemporary jazz band are booking Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, Fazio, Gordon, Bobby Lee Howard and Rick Jones return for a cocktail jam session. And Monday night, Bruce Harper and his big band will crowd into the diminutive tavern, which has provided a jazz sanctuary for decades.

“Playing-wise, the only thing it’s going to do is cut down on my span,” Fazio, 68, says. “I won’t be able to use my left hand for a while. But I’m able to stand without falling down, which is a good thing.”

Fazio credits his wife, Margie, for saving his life by taking him to the hospital after he experienced sudden dizziness and had trouble standing.

“I’m not going to let this beat me, believe me,” he says. “I’m on the mend; that’s what’s important. I’m determined this is not going to beat me down or take over.”

CRIME-FIGHTING CELEBRATION: The FBI celebrates 100 years of crime fighting this month, and the bureau’s local office at 1787 W. Lake Mead Blvd. has scheduled its ceremony for this morning.

Although the law enforcement agency expanded dramatically under the leadership of Director J. Edgar Hoover starting in 1923, the roots of the FBI date to 1908 when Attorney General Charles Bonaparte assembled a crew of special agents inside the Department of Justice. The agency officially became known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.

The Las Vegas office has its own colorful history, but perhaps the greatest irony involving the local FBI is the fact its new building stands on land brokered in a deal with Mayor Oscar Goodman, the former mob lawyer.

BRANDON’S ARMY: What can I say? The kid’s a star.

The response to Tuesday’s bone marrow registration drive at the Nevada Armory and National Guard training center for 10-year-old leukemia patient Brandon Rayner set a record for the folks at Candlelighters for Childhood Cancer of Southern Nevada.

Brandon’s cause generated 210 additions to the national bone marrow registry with another 90 pledges on the way.

Doctors for Rayner, a brain tumor survivor, are challenged to find a close match so that the boy can receive a bone marrow and stem cell transplant that’s essential to his treatment.

The national registry didn’t turn up a match, so Candlelighters and others have embarked on a campaign to register as many potential bone marrow donors as possible.

“We’re having a terrific response,” says Angela Berg, Candlelighters’ patient advocate and director of programs and services. “Unfortunately, a preliminary search for Brandon did not come up with a match. The more we can keep adding the better.”

The test is quick and painless — just a swab inside of the cheek. Berg says more marrow drives are being planned.

DARA’S DREAM: Sports fans are marveling at the amazing display of swimming sensation Dara Torres, the 41-year-old who recently qualified for a record fifth Olympic Games.

Torres, who has won nine Olympic medals, is the daughter of the late Las Vegas casino man Ed Torres, who over the course of a long career operated the Riviera, El Rancho and Aladdin.

ON THE BOULEVARD: It’s something many locals probably thought they would never see again, the “Vegas is a vacation value” story in the national media. Major newspapers across the country are noting the dramatic reduction in room rates at some of the Strip’s biggest resorts. What next, the return of the 49-cent breakfast? … A small memorial, a cross and flowers on the scorched earth, has been placed on the site of the recent single-engine airplane crash in Kyle Canyon that killed four.

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