Milton Theatre to host celebration of Ken Cicerale’s music Oct. 10

October 5, 2019

Ken Cicerale was a classically trained clarinetist, jazz alto saxophonist, music educator, and a director of a multimillion-dollar awards program at ASCAP, where he was the first to advocate for including aspiring jazz composers in the awards program.

Friends and colleagues from his musical career will gather at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10, to celebrate Cicerale’s life and music in a special concert. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at, by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office, 110 Union St., Milton. All performers are donating their services.

Appearing that evening will be Delaware native and saxophonist Cody Dale Leavel joining 5th Avenue as they perform some of Cicerale’s original music from his last CD, “City Lights.” Jazz guitarist Monroe Quinn will travel from New York City to share some tunes he wrote and played with Ken during their time there, as well as stories of their friendship. Two tunes from their CD “Musings” will be performed as well.

Monroe also has wonderful stories to tell about his years of friendship with Ken. Guitarist Jack La Forte, who shared the stage for 20 years with Cicerale and Vincent Varrassi in the band A Touch of Class will be flying in from Florida to play some of the music from their days together. Varrassi, another longtime friend and bandmate, will honor Ken through his piano music and vocals.

Bassist Jeff Cooper from the most recent configuration of 5th Avenue will join drummer Ken Schleifer, each of them performing double duty in the new and old 5th Avenue groups. Longtime friend, pianist and vocalist Eva Tooker will perform with 5th Avenue to pay her own special tribute to Ken.  

For two years before his death, Ken performed with Bob Yesbek’s band 2nd Time Around playing in many venues with Bob and drummer Ken Schleifer. On one of those occasions, they were joined on the Milton Theatre stage by local legend, guitarist Paul Cullen. Both Yesbek and Cullen have generously offered to be part of the evening to honor Ken.

Sales from 5th Avenue’s “City Lights” CD will be presented to Ken’s wife Josie as a thank you for the fabulous music her husband provided throughout the years. Per her request, proceeds from the event will go to fund annual scholarships for two Sussex County high school students intending to pursue jazz studies at the college level. A memorial account has already been established with the Delaware Community Foundation, 36 The Circle, Georgetown, DE 19947. Donations may be made by checks payable to DCF with a memo note mentioning Ken Cicerale, or online at

The “City Lights” CD will also be available for purchase from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Bluecoast Restaurant on Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach, where 5th Avenue with Vincent Varrassi will be performing during the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Fest.

Ken Cicerale’s parting message was: “If you like, wherever you are, raise a glass, have a drink in my honor and go on with your lives.”