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Mark Kelly Plays On Through Life's Hardships, Paying Homage to Jazz Greats

Updated: Wednesday, December 11 2013, 09:56 AM EST

Born and bred in Baltimore, Mark Kelly has faced drug addiction, a leg amputation and now financial hardships. Despite the hurdles life has thrown his way, Kelly has a gift, one that lights up the rooms in Baltimore's fading jazz nightclubs.

Jazz grabbed Kelly early on and now he spends his nights paying homage to great jazz talents, who long ago graced Baltimore's plush-lined clubs. Jazz in Baltimore has long been fading, but with the long intoxicating notes of Mark Kelly audiences can glimpse a flicker of that past - of greats like Eubie Blake, Billie Holiday and Louie Armstrong.

Though Kelly has faced his share of hardships, including a blood clotting disease which has already taken his leg and now threatens his ability to make a living, Kelly plays on. For Kelly jazz is where the feeling of the moment always comes through – whether good, or bad.

"People have coffee to give them a trumpet makes me feel like nothing else is going on, playing my horn," Kelly said. "There's always someone worse off, I'm still walking, playing my horn, having laughs with people," Kelly said. "Life ain't that bad."

Kelly hopes to do a fundraiser soon for Operation Smile, a global volunteer network that works to repair childhood facial deformities including cleft lips and cleft palates.

Mark Kelly Plays On Through Life's Hardships, Paying Homage to Jazz Greats

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