Today’s Sweet 6 > WEDNESDAY / APR. 20, 2016
“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:
Not exactly Manhattan’s WestSide, but this looks too good to miss:
SFJazz Collective Plays the Music of Michael Jackson (also Thursday)
Jazz Standard, 116 E27th St./ 7:30PM +9:30PM, $35
“It’s probably a safe bet that you haven’t heard a take on “Thriller” with more improvisational flair than the version that appears on “SFJazz Collective Plays the Music of Michael Jackson & Original Compositions.” Next week the SFJazz Collective — featuring a powerful front line of Sean Jones on trumpet, David Sánchez and Miguel Zenón on saxophones, Robin Eubanks on trombone and Warren Wolf on marimba and vibraphone — draws from that album in a three-night run.” (Chinen-NYT)
There’s so much star power in this ambitious octet, including the saxophonists Miguel Zenon and David Sanchez, that it could supply tingle to practically any given repertoire. Still, a spotlight on the work of Michael Jackson is especially intriguing; songs from the King of Pop will be offset by shrewd group originals.” (NewYorker)
Music, Dance, Performing Arts
James Francies: JF3
Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Ave,@135th St./ 7:30PM, $15
“Mr. Francies is 20 — and already a force on the ground in New York. He’s a pianist with liquid dynamism in his touch and a heavy slate of sideman affiliations. With his trio JF3, appearing here in the Harlem Stride: Jazz Now series, he engages with the postbop continuum from a contemporary angle, working with Ben Williams on bass and Jeremy Dutton on drums.” (Chinen-NYT)
Harlem Stage Gatehouse is a very cool space for music; before the show grab a quick bite to eat @Mofongo Del Valle Restaurant, 3340 Broadway @135th St.
Donna McKechnie: A Visit with Kander & Ebb (thru Apr.22)
Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 W54th St./ 7PM, $50+
“After a brilliant career as one of the all-time great Broadway dancers, Donna McKechnie has refocused her energies on singing. Her newest cabaret set focuses on songs by the classic Broadway team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, including tunes from such shows as Chicago, Cabaret, The Act and The Visit.” (TONY)
Whitney Museum of American Art, (thru April 24)
“An icon of jazz, 87-year-old pianist Cecil Taylor has been breaking boundaries since his 1956 debut album. Mr. Taylor both expanded and exploded the language of jazz, adding complexity and density to the form. His 10-day residency as part of the Whitney’s Open Plan series will feature a handful of performances and reveal how his music—uncompromising, prickly and gorgeous— interacts with dance, poetry and modern art.” (WSJ)
Smart Stuff / Other
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)
Tribeca Film Festival 15th Edition (April 13-24)
For details on all the films, schedules, talks and events, visit tribecafilm.com.
New and Cool: Virtual Arcade debuts at the 2016 Festival, helping to expand the immersive entertainment slate with thirteen additional VR experiences from some of the leading creators and emerging voices in this new medium. (April 18-23)
see also: The Tribeca Film Festival Diversifies (WSJ)
“The festival, which originally set out to help revive the TriBeCa neighborhood post-9/11, has grown into an international celebration of cinema at venues throughout the City. Lasting nearly two weeks, the festival focuses this year on some unique documentaries, female directors and local stories.
In addition to screening new films, the Beacon Theatre will host a special 40th anniversary showing of director Martin Scorsese’s NYC classic, Taxi Driver. Afterward, there will be an onstage conversation headed up by festival co-founder Robert De Niro—who also happens to be the film’s star—along with the director and co-stars Jodie Foster and Cybill Shepherd. In addition, the Tribeca Talks series returns with conversations on movies and moviemaking that feature the likes of J.J. Abrams, Tina Fey, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Rock.” (nycgo.com)
Elsewhere, but this looks worth the detour:
Book Launch: How to Smoke Pot (Properly)
powerHouse Arena, 37 Main St./ 7PM, FREE
By David Bienenstock with Krishna Andavolu and Abdullah Saeed
“Once demonized as “the Devil’s lettuce” and linked to all manner of deviant behavior, cannabis sativa has lately been enjoying a long-overdue renaissance. So now, with the squares at long last ready to rethink pot’s place in polite society, and eleven US states considering legalization in 2016, VICE columnist and former High Times editor David Bienenstock charts the course for this bold, new, post-prohibition world in How to Smoke Pot (Properly) — a highbrow guide to getting high.” (ThoughtGallery.org)
Bonus – Jazz Venues:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who is playing tonight:
Greenwich Village (all six are within walking distance of each other):
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 – basement @55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave.S. 55bar.com, 212-929-9883
in case you need more options in the Village, these are also fine spots:
Mezzrow – basement @ 163 W10th St. nr 7th Ave. mezzrow.com,646-476-4346
Smalls – basement @ 183 W10th St. smallslive.com, 646-476-4346
Cornelia Street Cafe – 29 Cornelia St. corneliastreetcafe.com, 212-989-9319
Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9ave) — 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 58 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2016. 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”
No reservations needed.
NYCity is the most diverse and interesting place to find a meal anywhere in the world. With more than 24 thousand eating establishments you might welcome some advice.
◊ 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 Summer 2016).
◊ Order before July 31, 2016 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.
This week’s fave and FREE NYCity AppS:
An enormous base of NYCity user reviews (2.1 million) provides the widest coverage of hotels (468), restaurants (12,645) and things to do (yes, 3,246). Have a specific question? Then try one of Trip Advisor’s forums. Just remember that with all those reviews you have to try to find the consistency among the comments, and ignore the outliers.
Instantly locate restaurants near you with open reservations and then place a reservation right from your iOS device. A great interface and the ability to see a menu from the restaurant you’re interested in makes this my go to restaurant reservation app.
Need to catch your #1,2,3 subway to attend an event? Use the Subway Time app from the MTA to find out when the next train arrives at your station. The MTA also has Bus Time info available on their mobile website.