Tuesday, February 17, 2009


So Much Jazz

(Warning: Very tired, and much wine, so please forgive rambling post below).

We were invited by friend Mary Ann to hear a young trumpet player play some tunes from his new album at Dizzy's. Chris Botti, whatever. This young player, Dominic Farinacci has a beautiful sound, incredible command and great sensitivity. I would happily listen to him ten times over any Chris Botti recording. Bob Belden wanderred by and asked if I was my friend Laurence's wife; I responded that I was simply on loan. There was Randy Brecker in the audience, there until the very end, supporting the talents of this young player. Wynton was floating around at one point. Joe Locke, who was in the second jazz gig I ever went to see in New York, was his usual dramatic, sensitive and nearly spastic self. He clearly loves Dom's music. And so too did the guest known as "Fish." That would be Fishburne. You can figure out his first name.

Here's a photo of friend Laurence, Gene Bertoncini, who we spent a little time with after the gig, and whose March 25th performance we promised to attend at the Jazz Standard.

A rather blurry photo of Gordon and Gene walking down the street. Gordon was very annoyed I took this photo.

Earlier in the week, for Valentine's Day, we skipped over to the Highline Ballroom to hear Laurence accompany the magnetic Gregory Generet, then ran uptown to listen to Hilary Kole. In a review of Hilary, the Times wrote:

Ms. Kole’s poised, sultry ballad-singing has always been easy on the ears. But her smooth melodic lines have never been so consistently infused with literary subtext, which spells the difference between sounding pretty and having something to say. Her version of the Dietz-Schwartz ballad “Haunted Heart” stood apart from any other through its translation into a bossa nova, in which Mr. McLean’s drums imitated the palpitations of a telltale heart. The sexy Brazilian ballad “Like a Lover” revolved around the singer’s envious identification with a “velvet moon” caressing a lover’s body.

I knew nothing about Miss Kole, though I did try to listen to a few Youtube clips before that evening. They don't do her justice (note to someone: please put up some better clips). Three songs into her set, and Gordon and I were captivated by her singing. I don't know that I've heard someone sing lyrics so sensitively since Susannah McCorkle. Except, unlike McCorkle, Kole has a fully developed, highly flexible, beautiful and tremendously musical voice. You can hear the Carmen McCrae in the way she caresses phrases. And while some have compared her to Diana Krall, it's not a fair comparison at all. Kole is infinitely warmer than Krall. I feel lucky that I was able to see her on a night before she begins her ascent.

In the past ten weeks, I've ingested more culture than I had in quite some time. I asked Gordon how he felt about this, and he said that it felt good and that we should continue to do our part to support the arts in New York City. And so, my calendar is filling up, even as I am thinking about possibly beginning a new draft of a new novel this week. I have plenty of music to help my imagination in the meantime.

Out in the hinterlands I'm envious! But I'm also trying to increase my own local art consumption (countertenor/lute concert last weekend, "Global Thursday" at the Arab-American Museum, with a classical erhu/Chinese-language rock double bill this week). I've been reading Eric Maisel's The Athiest's Way, which I think is an unfortunate title in that the book is about making meaning in life (assuming that the maker is not relying upon a religion to provide meaning), and the title might drive off some peole who don't consider themselves athiests but would benefit from reading it...in any case, it was a good reminder to MAKE MEANING. Stressers of daily life getting you down? Make meaning, participate in meaning, participate in life. All good.
One of the wonderful things about a book is that it is portable culture. You can dive into a world anywhere you are. This has become easier with music--iPods and all--though there's nothing like live performance, I agree.

But it's always good to keep your eye on the ball and find meaning in things. You know I agree with you. ;-)
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