Today’s FAB 5 > MONDAY / DEC. 28, 2015
“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.
(click on links for more complete event info.)
Have time for only one event today? Do this:
Chris Potter Trio (through Dec.29)
Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th St.& Broadway/ 7:30PM, + 9:30PM, $40
“Thinking big has rarely been an obstacle for Chris Potter, a saxophonist of inquisitive temperament and superhuman technique. “Imaginary Cities,” the rather slept-on album he released early this year, featured his compositions for an 11-piece orchestra — but it would be a mistake to assume he’ll work with less vaulting ambitions during this trio run, starting out with the bassist Drew Gress and the drummer Adam Cruz (Saturday and Sunday) and finishing up with the bassist Scott Colley and the drummer Johnathan Blake (Monday and Tuesday).” (Chinen-NYT)
Music, Dance, Performing Arts
Eric Alexander and Harold Mabern Group (through Dec 31)
Smoke Jazz Club, 2751 Broadway, at 106th St./ 7, 9, 10;30PM, $48
Friday through Wednesday at 7, 9 and 10:30PM; on Thursday at 6:30 and 9:45PM, $
“Mr. Alexander, a tenor saxophonist with a taste for smartly surging hard bop, teams up with Mr. Mabern, a veteran pianist and collaborator. The lineup and size of their bands will shift a few times between now and the close of the year, featuring strong partners like the drummer Jimmy Cobb (on Friday); the trombonist Steve Turre (Saturday and Sunday); and the alto saxophonist Vince Herring (Monday through Thursday).” (Chinen-NYT)
NYCity Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (through Jan. 3)
NYS/DHK Theater, Lincoln Center / 7PM, $75+
“Usually the seasoned principal dancers of City Ballet star in “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.” For the remainder of the weekend, the company is presenting a blizzard of debuts, casting soloists and members of the corps de ballet in the featured roles of the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier, among others, bringing a fresh spark to familiar characters. See a holiday favorite and discover a rising star. Then for the final week of performances, the veterans return.” (Schaefer-NYT)
Smart Stuff / Other
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)
Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography (ends Jan.3)
NYPL, Main Branch, 5th ave & 42nd St./ 10AM -6PM, FREE
“Thanks to the development of new technology and social media, more photographs are created, viewed, and shared today than ever before. Public Eye, the first-ever retrospective survey of photography organized by NYPL, takes advantage of this moment to reframe the way we look at photographs from the past. Ranging from photography’s official announcement in 1839 to manifestations of its current pervasiveness, this landmark exhibition, drawn entirely from the Library’s collections, explores the various ways in which photography has been shared and made public.”
See the history of photography before this fine, wide ranging exhibition closes. I was blown away. Read what the WSJ had to say about this exhibition.
The Borscht Belt
with Martin Schneit, a licensed New York City Tour Guide.
NYPL, Mid-Manhattan Library, / 6:30PM, FREE
“This illustrated lecture brings back to life a remarkable time, place and people. What survives of the Borscht Belt is the memory; it will never be duplicated. The history of The Borscht Belt and what caused its decline is showcased. Some of the sites explored are: Old Route 17, Red Apple Rest, and the Bungalow Colonies. The hotels discussed are Grossingers, Concord and Kutcher’s. The comedians featured include Red Buttons, George Burns, Rodney Dangerfield, Sid Caesar, Henny Youngman, and Milton Berle.”
SPECIAL EVENT, A MUST SEE:
Noche Flamenca: Antigona (through Jan. 23)
West Park Presbyterian Church, 165 W86th St./ $25-$60
Mondays through Saturdays at 8PM
“Traditional Spanish dance and ancient Greek theater are an unlikely but well-suited pair in Noche Flamenca’s sharp production “Antigona,” based on Sophocles’s famous tragedy. The dance lights a fire under the play while discovering in itself a knack for narrative drama. In the title role, the powerhouse Soledad Barrio is both fierce and fragile. The century-old church where the performance takes place is filled with striking sets, darkly amorous music played by a live band and a ferocious Greek chorus of dancers.” (NYT-Schaefer)
a personal note:
Noche Flamenca is Spain’s most successful touring company and its greatest exponent of the art of flamenco. Soledad Barrio is a goddess of dance and brings so much passion to her role as Antigona. Two wonderful Spanish guitarists and two vocalists do not get the credit they deserve. Every piece of this performance is outstanding. Go See It!
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who’s playing tonight:
Village Vanguard – 178 7th ave. South, — villagevanguard.com / 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. — bluenotejazz.com / 212-475-8592
55 Bar – 55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave. South — 55bar.com / 212-929-9883
Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9 ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway, nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com / 212-864-6662
♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of 8.5 million, had a record 56 million visitors last year and is TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2015. Quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats in advance, even if just on day of performance.
A PremierPub and 3 Good Eating Places – Greenwich Village
Caffe Vivaldi / 32 Jones Street (btw. Bleecker St./W4th St.)
Café Vivaldi is a classic, intimate club located in Greenwich Village on Jones Street, the street featured on the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album, “Freewheelin’. ”
Each night Ishrat, the long time proprietor and impresario, carefully curates and schedules an eclectic series of musicians. You can often see him at his table in the corner, hard at work reviewing music videos and listening to cd demos on his laptop, scouting out future bookings. Musicians come from all over to play and sing in a club in Greenwich Village. Some are local New Yorkers, others are just passing through, in town for a few days.
There is a small bar, seating maybe 10. It’s close to the stage and I find it’s a perfect spot to sip a glass of red wine while listening to the music. The room itself has the performance area at one end and a cozy fireplace at the other. The performance area here is small, dominated by a large black Yamaha Grand piano. Tables are bunched together and most people at the tables are eating lite meals or sampling the wonderful desserts.
There is also a good selection of fairly priced wines, but you are here because of the music. You can never be quite sure what you’re going to find, and that’s half the charm of this place. It’s not a home run every night, but many nights it’s pretty special.
I remember the night I saw the most talented bossa nova group, just in from San Paulo. As I listened, I wondered if there was any better music playing anywhere else in New York City that night. And at Caffé Vivaldi there is never a cover charge. Their recently redesigned web site does give you a better idea of the type of music playing each night.
At one time Greenwich Village was filled with clubs just like this, but times change. Real estate interests have impacted the village, and not for the better. Even Caffé Vivaldi had a rough time recently, when a new landlord raised the rent exorbitantly. Fortunately, Ishrat has built a loyal following over the years, and a fund raiser and slightly more reasonable rent has kept Café Vivaldi in business.
When Woody Allen and Al Pacino wanted to make movies featuring the timeless quality of Greenwich Village they came to Vivaldi. It’s important that we keep this special place alive, for if we lose Cafe Vivaldi, NYCity will have lost a piece of it’s soul.
Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30PM – 11PM, but varies
Subway: #1 to Christopher St.
Walk 1 blk S. on 7th ave S. to Bleecker St., 1 blk left on Bleecker to Jones St., 50 yards left on Jones St. to Caffe V.
“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.
3 Good Eating places
It’s not difficult to find a place to eat in Manhattan.
Finding a good, inexpensive place to eat is a bit harder.
Here are a few of my faves in this neighborhood:
Fish – 280 Bleecker St. (just a bit S. of 7th ave South)
This was an easy pick – the best raw bar special in town. $9 gets you 6 of the freshest oysters or clams + a glass of wine or beer. Don’t know how they can do it, but I tell everyone I know about this place. And it’s located right in the heart of some of the best no cover music in town.
Bleecker Street Pizza – 69 7th ave S. (corner of Bleecker St.)
The place is tiny and not much to look at, but this is one good slice. They like to brag that they have been voted “Best pizza in NY” 3 years in a row by the Food Network. I believe them. I would have voted for them.
Num Pang – 21 E 12th St. (btw. University Place/5th ave.)
This is a Cambodian banh mi sandwich shop that kept me well fed while I was in class nearby recently. It’s cramped, even for NYCity, but usually there is room up the spiral staircase to sit down and eat. In good weather carry your sandwich a few blocks to Union Square park. You may have to wait a few minutes, because everything is freshly made, but it’s worth it. Can you believe – an unheard of 26 food rating by Zagat.
“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
This covers a wide range of food – the traditional pizza, burgers, & hot dogs; but also food trucks & carts, soup & sandwiches, picnic fixins’, raw bars & lobster rolls, bbq, vegetarian, falafel, ramen, chopped salad & salad bars. No reservations needed. ===========================================================================
◊ For all my picks of 54 Good Eating places, and essays on my favorite 18 PremierPubs in 9 Neighborhoods on Manhattan’s WestSide, order a copy of my e-book:
“Eating and Drinking on NYCity’s WestSide” ($4.99, available Spring 2016).
◊ Order before May 31, 2016 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.