Tag Archives: Highlights in Jazz

February 17- February 24

A friend and I celebrated her birthday by going to Butter, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s large and bustling restaurant on 45 Street and 6th Avenue. It was my second visit and the food, service and setting are still nonpareil. The raspberry beignets are worth the trip alone.

Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz has been rolling along for 46 years. Thursday night featured Bucky Pizzarelli and his two sons, Martin on bass and John on guitar. They were joined by another guitarist, Russell Malone and accompanied by the fine pianist, Russell Kasoff. It was wonderful. They swung through lots of standards like Tangerine and other golden oldies from the American songbook. The Manhattan Community College’s auditorium was filled with an appreciative audience.

Pizzarelli Night at Highlights in Jazz

 

 

Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man in the school kitchen, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine-year-old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears a person fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie.

Graphic Lessons: Something’s eating at NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case? It doesn’t matter because he’s relentless.

New York City Blog — April 2 – April 8

Ever have a friend on Jeopardy? I have. Ever have a friend win about $60,000 in three days on Jeopardy? I have. Enough of this vulgar bragging. Judson Memorial Church was in a delicious tizzy about a Judsonite slamming home the answers for three glorious sessions.

Before going to Highlights in Jazz, we always return to Gigino Trattoria. It’s a friendly, crowded Italian restaurant on Greenwich Street, sandwiched between Duane and Reede. This menu photo of a galloping grandfather, with a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, gives a sense of the trattoria’s atmosphere.

Gigino Grandpa

Highlights in Jazz featured a fine young pianist, Leonieke Scheuble, and Rene Marie. It was, appropriately enough, a jazzy evening. Diminishing audience, though.

 

COMING SOON:

Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: something’s eating at him: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?

Graphic Lessons: Nine year old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore?

New York City Blog — March 5 – March 11

The Frick Sunday concert featured Tempesta di Mare’s A Tale of Two Cities. The music represented the different traditions of Venice and Naples. Vivaldi and Castello represented Venice and Marchitelli and Mancini represented Naples. It was enchanting. The quartet is named after Vivaldi’s eighteenth century flute concerto. The instruments played were the recorder, violin, cello and a theorbo. A theorbo is a stringed instrument of the 17th century resembling a large lute but having an extra set of long bass strings.Thank you, Merriam-Webster. Getting it through customs must be a real treat. The Frick includes brief descriptions of related art works. Do you walk by the bronzes? I do. Therefore I was grateful for the Frick notes gently nudging us to pay as much attention to metal as we do to paint by describing Severo da Ravenna’s Neptune on a Sea-Monster. I went to the West Gallery and looked at it closely, marveling at the action and detail. Frick bought the sculpture from the J. Pierpont Morgan estate. After the concert, we stepped around the corner to Charlot, a charming French bistro on 69th Street.

On March 9th, I participated in a Jericho Walk near Foley Square. A Judson Memorial Church member had to appear before ICE. This person has been in the U. S. for twenty five years, has a family, works regularly and yet there’s a distinct chance that he will be deported to a country he hasn’t lived in for decades. We were instructed not to engage in angry exchanges. In other words, keep your BIG mouth shut. I shouted at a creep who was holding up posters telling immigrants to get out of his country. I was correctly shushed by my pals. A Jericho Walk is a prayer walk by a group. The purpose is to pray for or against something which indeed we did.

Highlights in Jazz was on Thursday evening. After a delicious dinner at Gigino’s we made our way to BMCC. That’s Borough of Manhattan Community College auditorium. Paquito D’Rivera was his usual charming self. The evening was shadowed by the news of Barbara Carroll’s death.

Foley Square Jericho Walk

New York City Blog – May 7 – May 14

Lebhaft, frisch, sehe ranch – in other words, lively, fresh, very quickly. I’m quoting from the Frick Collection’s program for Imogen Cooper’s Schumann and Schubert recent recital. Ms. Cooper was splendid. She played Robert Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze. After a short intermission she launched into Franz Schubert’s Sonata in B-Flat Major, D. 960.Thanks to Ms. Cooper and the subtle elegance of Frick’s Music Room we were whisked back to the glory of nineteenth century German music.

A friend and I love the Minetta Tavern’s buzz, its reimagined decor, its funky menu, its unassuming entrance, its traditional Tom Collins. Years ago people could dine there without cashing in their 401Ks. No more. Since Keith McNally dolled up Minetta Tavern, it’s pricy and worth it. Minetta Tavern reminds me of those glamorous restaurants like the Stork Club we hear about in movies and from long departed relatives.

 

Tom Collins for EveryoneJack Kleinsinger never tires of telling his audience that Highlights in Jazz is the longest running jazz concert series in NYC. 44 years young !!! Thursday’s program was very satisfying: Wycliffe Gordon on the trombone, Nicki Parrott on bass and Bria Skonberg on trumpet. In addition to being stellar musicians, they’re all great vocalists.

Mit gutem Humor…

New York City Blog Feb. 28 – March 5

Watching the political circus unfolding before our eyes and before the presidential election, I thought these words of Daniel Berrigan were appropriate: Every nation-state tends towards the imperial—that is the point. Through banks, armies, secret police, propaganda, courts and jails, treaties, taxes, laws and orders, myths of civil obedience, assumptions of civic virtue at the top. Still it should be said of the political left, we expect something better. And correctly. We put more trust in those who show a measure of compassion, who denou­nce the hideous social arrangements that make war inevitable and human desire omnipresent; which fosters corporate selfishness, panders to appetites and disorder, waste the earth.

I went to a memorial at the God’s Love We Deliver building on Spring Street. The friend who died had volunteered for that organization. First, we had a buffet lunch and then numerous tributes. Many photos of the deceased were gathered in a box and pasted on walls. She was a curious, mysterious person who kept people in separate compartments. When I visited her as she laying dying in Mount Sinai, I met people gathered around her bed I’d never seen or heard of. At the memorial my old friends and I reminisced about the deceased: her wit, her kindness, her privacy. She’s gone into the great beyond. Her secrets are safe.

Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz is now in its 44th year. It’s presented in the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Theatre One. Thursday’s performance featured the Cuban born Paquito D’Rivera who plays a mean clarinet and a mean saxophone. His genres include Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban jazz. In the second set he played clarinet alongside Peter and Will Anderson. In other words, a clarinet summit. Lots of fun.

New York City Blog January 31 – February 5

I spent a few days at Weill Cornell Hospital, feeling like the hero of Mark Twain’s  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. It’s like being at a court. There are so many rules, regulations and conventions that the natives understand and that are a mystery to the visitor. The hospital is vast. I assume it employs thousands of doctors, interns, residents, nurses, aides, dietitians, social workers. There are also the clergy who drop in. I looked up from Ripley Underground, a story about a gentile mass murderer, to look into soft brown eyes gazing at me from the bottom of my bed. I guess he was a monk because he was dressed in a Frier Tuck outfit. After a few pious words, he left. After a procedure, a doctor marched in with an entourage. There were at least ten young men and women, reminding me of knights surrounding King Arthur. Were they interns? Anyway, they watched the doctor examine me as the doctor made pleasant chatter. A dietician spoke to me about a healthful diet and gave me written menu suggestions that included diet coke and margarine.

 

The East River viewed from my eleventh floor hospital room
The East River viewed from my eleventh floor hospital room

A few nights later a friend and I attended Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz. As Kleinsinger never tires of reminding the audience, it’s the longest running jazz concert series in NYC. It’s in its 44th year. In the first set a quintet played and sang jazz standards. With the mystery guest, Nicki Parrott on bass, Warren Ache on trumpet and Ted Rosenthal on piano the evening was a treat.

New York City Blog June 8 — June 15

On a hot summer night a friend and I went to Gigino’s in Tribeca, perched at a little table on the cement porch because the a/c was down. We had a terrific time. Gigino’s has been in existence since 1994 but seems more settled, more of a landmark. I had assumed the charming snapshot of nonno, cigarette planted firmly in the corner of his mouth, running after his grandson, was a family photo. Who knows? Maybe it’s a clever publicist’s stunt to play on the homey quality that the word, trattoria, conveys.

Gigino's Menu
Gigino’s Menu

We then went to Highlights in Jazz at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. It’s NYC’s oldest running jazz series, as we are constantly reminded by the genial host, Jack Kleinsinger. This last concert of the season featured the jazz pianist, Randy Weston and Billy Harper the saxophonist. Alexis Cole, the singer and Dylan Meeks, the pianist rounded out the first part of the evening. We left early and slogged our way through the NYC humidity.

I’m about to breech the new Whitney. As everyone knows it’s in the newest, hottest Manhattan area, the former meat packing district and a stone’s throw from that other trend setter and tourist attraction, the High Line. Did you like the former bunker -er- museum space on Madison and 75th Street? I didn’t. It was more like a prison that a museum. Actually, it could be Rikers East. Can you imagine the reaction of the people in the ‘hood?

New York City Blog May 2 — May 9

Alwan for the Arts on Beaver Street presented an evening of Flamenco and Arab Music, We arrived just in time to get the last two seats in the room on the fourth floor. The chairs were arranged in a semicircle. The six musicians and their various instruments: ouds, guitars, violins, tablas (like bongos), riqs (like tambourines) and drums faced us and there was a tiny space for dancing. It was a perfect NYC evening: intimate, exciting, multicultural, exotic, erotic. Barbara Martinez sang and danced alone and with the percussionist and dancer, Ramzi Eledlebi. Carmen, Steve Kulchek’s long time girlfriend, danced flamenco. Steve made a brave attempt.

Flamenco dancers: Ramzi Eledlebi and Barbara Martinez
Flamenco dancers: Ramzi Eledlebi and Barbara Martinez

Late Sunday afternoon was spent at Alice Tully Hall. CMS, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, presented a Beethoven and Ligeti concert. Alice Tully Hall is a wonderful space. There is room between the seats so that people can pass others. I had heard that Alice Tully was tall and made leg room a requirement of a hall that was financed by her.

I had two book parties in one evening: Bart Boehlert’s and Father Brown’s. The first was in real life. Bart and his companion, Ted Dawson, hosted a relaxed, early evening book party at Judson Memorial Church. Surrounded by John La Farge painted glass windows and Augustus St. Gaudens’s sculpture, we sat in a cozy circle in the Meeting Room. Bart told us about his memoir, HOW I LOOK.The cover, designed by Ted, shows Bart’s very buffed back as he looks at Whistler’s Theodore Durer. Bart spoke about his own life and his mother’s early influence on his respect for American fashion, exemplified by Perry Ellis. Bart mentioned Ellis’s attention to detail. The same could be said about his wonderfully written and designed book which is available on Amazon.

Bart Boehlert's How I Look
Bart Boehlert’s How I Look

 

From a UCC church setting I went to a Roman Catholic setting. As soon as I arrived home, I switched on the TV to Channel 21’s Father Brown. Needless to say, the R.C. book signing party was bloodier than the UCC one. Being a mystery set in the 1950s English landed gentry countryside, there is always murder, but there’s always lovely fashion too.

We heard Wycliffe Gordon at Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz held at Manhattan Community College. The first set was great. The second set was long winded. Jay Leonhart, the respected bass player, has taken to verbal riffs that do not match the quality of his playing.

New York City Blog Feb. 2-Feb. 8

February 2nd: R. I. P. Philip Seymour Hoffman. The last movie I saw him in was  A Late Quartet. He and the other wonderful actors created the impression that they were highly skilled musicians who had been playing together for years. Hoffman was buried from St Ignatious Loyola, another man who had his own terrors. Although there were many mourners present, not one carried the coffin. Instead, it was carried, I guess, by minimum wage employees of Frank Campbell.

While the rest of you were watching. agonizing over/ betting on/ Super Bowl, a friend and I went to Craft, Tom Colicchio’s laboratory, I mean, restaurant on 19th Street. The service was fine, the space was ample (we’re talking Manhattan) and the greens were gritty. Feb. 2 was the first time I’d been back in three years. Now, there’s music. Did a consultant suggest that that would make the restaurant more hospitable? I preferred the more formal atmosphere.
Highlights in Jazz celebrated its 41st anniversary on Feb. 6. Jack Kleinsinger, its creator, was in fine form. A woman approached him in Las Vegas and said, “I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but you look like Jack Kleinsinger.” Kenny Barron, the jazz pianist, was also in fine form.
Don’t tell me NYC isn’t a carny town. From my window I see the Empire State Building. During daylight hours it’s as staid as a banker. Once the sun goes down, it turns vibrant multicolors every few seconds, resembling a hypodermic needle crossed with a jukebox.