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Illness sidelines Jimmy Cavallo for 90th birthday shows

Suffering from a case of bronchitis that briefly hospitalized him over the weekend, Pompano Beach saxophonist and bandleader Jimmy Cavallo was forced to bow out of March 12, 13 and 15 performances in Deerfield Beach and Fort Lauderdale scheduled to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Cavallo, who turns 90 on Tuesday, March 14, expects to return to performing in two or three weeks, according to his drummer and friend of nearly 50 years, Val Colombo.

“Jimmy is a fighter. He doesn’t go down for no one,” Colombo said on Monday from his home in Margate. “I spoke to him today. He said, ‘I just gotta take care of business. At my age, I can’t be messing around.’ ”

With singer-saxophonist Richie Malfitano stepping in for the bandleader, Cavallo’s group played Sunday, March 12, for a capacity crowd at City Pub in Deerfield Beach, where Colombo blew out candles on a birthday cake for Cavallo. Performing with Colombo and Malfitano were guitarist Bob Whitlock and bassist Don Coffman.

The same lineup will perform Wednesday, March 15, at Nick’s Italian Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, also expected to be packed with Cavallo’s fans, including many from his old stomping ground around Syracuse, N.Y. The band’s performance on Monday, March 13, at Fort Lauderdale’s Blue Jean Blues was canceled.

Rest would seem to be in order. At the end of February, Cavallo added gigs at Tony B’s in Parkland to his schedule, and from Feb. 24 through March 6 he performed on nine of the 11 days.

In a recent interview, Cavallo said he was in fine health, taking only a small daily dose of blood-pressure medication. Performing is the best medicine, he said.

“If I cut back, I would wind up in a chair, watching TV, and they’ll carry me out by the handles after that,” he said. “Doing what I’m doing is keeping me active and alive.”

The Jimmy Cavallo band, with singer-saxophonist Richie Malfitano stepping in for Cavallo, performs 7-11 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at Nick’s Italian Restaurant, 3496 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-563-6441, NicksItalianOnline.com. They also will perform 7:30-10:30 p.m. Sunday, March 19, at City Pub, 956 S. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach, 954-427-8213, DeerfieldCityPub.com.

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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