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April 23, 2014

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Carlos Santana and Herbie Hancock pairing enlivens star-laden ‘Power of Love’ event

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Erik Kabik/ErikKabik.com

Artist Dale Evers’ 13-foot guitar sculpture for Carlos Santana and House of Blues is unveiled at HOB in Mandalay Bay on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Santana, Evers (in black) and Paul Reed Smith (in striped shirt) of PRS Guitars attended the unveiling.

2012 KMA Power of Love Tribute to Ali: the Gala

Siegfried & Roy at the 2012 Keep Memory Alive Launch slideshow »
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Quincy Jones at the 2012 Keep Memory Alive "Power of Love Gala" tribute to Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012.

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Michael Caine, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, speaks during the ShoWest Awards at Paris Las Vegas on April 2, 2009.

The Keep Memory Alive “Power of Love” charity gala keeps trying to accomplish what seems impossible: a show to top what has been produced in years past.

The philanthropic happening that unveiled the reunion and final stage appearance of Siegfried & Roy in 2009 and celebrated the 70th birthday of Muhammad Ali last year is rolling out another superstar-studded event for this year’s event. The 17th annual KMA event set for April 13 at MGM Grand is celebrating the dual birthdays of Quincy Jones and Sir Michael Caine.

The celebration happens a month after their actual birthdays -- which are Thursday -- but they will be on hand at the gala and tribute. The event is to raise funds in support of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the Frank Gehry-designed fortress in Symphony Park that is a center for combating neurodegenerative brain diseases and disorders of all types.

The show is being produced by Bill Edwards Events (which produced last year’s Ali tribute gala) and will be broadcast live on the Mark Cuban/Ryan Seacrest cable channel AXS TV at 9 p.m. on April 13. As part of the promotion of the event, Jones will appear on the network’s nightly music show, "AXSLive," tonight at 7.

The “Power of Love” events have blossomed from a relatively low-key (especially by today’s standards) gathering of influential and charity-minded guests at a dinner party at Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in 1994. That was the year Lou Ruvo, father of Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada senior manager Larry Ruvo, died of complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most-revered Las Vegans, Larry Ruvo established Keep Memory Alive as the center’s charitable foundation, charged with raising funds and awareness in these annual galas.

The amount raised since that first Spago dinner party is staggering: $100 million. It is a figure made possible largely because the highly respected Ruvo is likely the best-connected individual in our city.

The only challenge for the “Power of Love” events is to keep reaching its high standards for superstar appearances. The coupling of Caine and Jones, two men who are legends in their respective fields, should achieve that. The stars scheduled to appear onstage at the MGM event touch all entertainment genres. The list, in random order:

Barbra Streisand, Bebe Winans, Bono, Carlos Santana, Chaka Khan, Chris Tucker, Herbie Hancock, James Ingram, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Patti Austin, Scarlett Johansson, Snoop Lion (more famous by his original handle, Snoop Dogg), Stevie Wonder, Terrence Howard, Whoopi Goldberg and Will.I.Am.

How each of them is to appear at the show is not exactly being trumpeted for contractual restrictions and an in-development event program. But one highlight will be the pairing of Santana and Hancock, who will team on a jazz-fusion arrangement as a tribute to Jones. Tucker is to perform a few minutes of stand-up, and Will.I.Am will sing through a Michael Jackson tribute. Jones, who has won 27 Grammys, produced Jackson’s “Thriller.” Caine is no slouch as an Oscar winner.

As in years past, our own Robin Leach will serve as the “voice” of the event.

As for what else might be in the offing, please remain seated. More will be revealed.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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