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Count Basie

The unsinkable Melton Mustafa

The unsinkable Melton Mustafa

With a bounce in his step, Melton Mustafa strode onto the stage of Miami's Joseph Caleb Auditorium. The audience at September's Sunshine Jazz Organization's 25th anniversary gala cheered warmly, as the Liberty City-raised trumpeter and bandleader took his place at the helm of the 17-piece swing machine that bears his name. This was the moment many event attendees had been awaiting. They'd come not only to celebrate the SJO's milestone, but to toast Mustafa's seemingly remarkable rebound from Stage 4 prostate cancer.

During the past year, the 64-year-old trumpeter played sparingly, mostly at benefits to cover medical costs. Then, Mustafa could hardly remain standing. Now, he could...