Today’s Sweet 7 > FRIDAY / MAY 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:
The Ray Charles Songbook (also May 21)
Rose Theatre, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th St./ 8PM, $40-$130
“A taste for ballads drenched in the blues links Diane Schuur with another sightless singer, the iconic Ray Charles. Paying homage to the innovative genius, Schuur will acknowledge Charles’s eclectic bent—his uncanny ability to turn everything from American Songbook standards to country music into a genre that we can classify only as Ray Charles music.” (NewYorker)
“Tonight, Kenny Rampton honors his former bandleader by presenting the most authentic Ray Charles experience possible. The band is full of Ray Charles alumni, the set lists are faithful recreations of actual Ray Charles sets, and the charts are transcribed from the original tour music. In addition, get this, heart-stopping vocals by The Raelettes–Charles’ historic group of female singers.”
Music, Dance, Performing Arts
Kurt Rosenwinkel and the OJM Big Band (through May 22)
Blue Note, 131 W3rd St./ 8PM +10:30PM, $20, $35
“This astonishingly fluid and harmonically adventurous guitarist is among the most gifted members of the generation of players that followed such visionary six-string giants as Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. Here he shares his luxurious chops with Portugal’s Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, which joined him on the 2010 album “Our Secret World.”(NewYorker)
Bill Stewart Quartet (through May 22)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave South,/ 8:30PM +10:30PM, $
“Bill Stewart is a drummer of deep creative resources, and a composer drawn to crooked logic and low-key surprise. His engaging new album, “Space Squid,” spotlights the same longtime band joining him at the Village Vanguard next week, with the tenor and soprano saxophonist Seamus Blake, the pianist Bill Carrothers and the bassist Ben Street.”(Chinen-NYT)
Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio (through May 21)
Birdland, 315 W44th St./ 8:30PM +11PM, $40
“Perfection” is the assured new debut album by this all-star trio, with David Murray on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Geri Allen on piano and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums. Stout in its purpose, ringing with expedition, it’s a statement of tribute to the avant-garde hero Ornette Coleman, but also a straightforward celebration of the bonds between these players.” (Chinen-NYT)
Cuba Festival: Irene Rodríguez Compañía (thru May 22)
Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave. @ 19th St./ 8PM, $35, $60
“The Joyce continues its dedication to promoting the best of Cuban dance in this festival focusing on the return of audience favorite Malpaso Dance Company and the New York debuts of two other skilled and stylish companies.
Irene Rodríguez, one of the most prominent figures in Cuban dance, has created a company rooted in classical Spanish Flamenco that has been presented on prestigious stages throughout Cuba. Merging the dramatic arts, contemporary dance, national rhythms, and anything else that unites both the tradition and modernity of the Cuban character, the company leaves a “trail of triumph and applause” (Granma, Cuba) whenever it performs.”
“Irene Rodríguez Compañía combines Spanish flamenco with contemporary dance and Cuban rhythms for infectious performances that honor both tradition and modernity. ‘ (Schaefer-NYT)
Smart Stuff / Other
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other
Harlem EatUp (May 19-22)
“The Harlem EatUp! food festival is back for its second year on May 19th to 22nd featuring 38 chefs and over a dozen participating restaurants. Don’t miss your chance to celebrate the spirit of Harlem with four days of food, culture, music and art!
Dine In dinners – Harlem restaurants pair up with acclaimed chefs from across the country to collaborate on multi-course menus showcasing the unique feel of Harlem’s landscape.
The Stroll – Two days of fun in Morningside Park where you can sample delicious dishes at The Taste, shop local at The Market and catch cooking demos at The EatUp! Main Stage.
For more information, visit harlemeatup.com.”
Elsewhere, but this looks worth the detour:
Bill Clinton: New Gilded Age President – Patrick Maney
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave./ 12PM, $25
“Discover how Bill Clinton met the challenges of this new Gilded Age and hear about Bill Clinton in all his guises: The first baby boomer to reach the White House; the “natural” — the most gifted politician of his generation, but one with an inexplicably careless and self-destructive streak; the “Comeback Kid,” repeatedly overcoming long odds; the survivor, frequently down but never out; and, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, part of the most controversial First Couple since Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.” (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
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.