Selected NYC Events (12/04) + Today’s Featured Pub (Greenwich Village)

“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.
For those wonderful, only in NYCity Holiday Windows scroll to bottom of today’s post.
For very best Holiday Shows and Tree Lightings see tab above: NYC Holiday Shows+

Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

New York City Ballet / “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker”
NYS/DHK Theater, Lincoln Center / 1PM, +5PM, $30+
“People like to say they’re sick of “The Nutcracker,” but once the music starts, and little Marie catches a glimpse of that tree, who can resist it? Tchaikovsky loved children, and that love is audible in the score; an early critic called it a “symphony of childhood.” What makes it so good is that it doesn’t eschew darkness, or grandeur. George Balanchine, who created his now classic version in 1954, understood this, and made a ballet that has a bit of everything: cozy family dances, conflict, drama—enter Dewdrop with her urgent leaps—and sugarplums, too.” (NewYorker)

5 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY

RANDY WESTON’S AFRICAN RHYTHMS SEXTET
DAVID HAJDU: ‘LOVE FOR SALE’ NIGHT
MEGAN HILTY
DONNY MCCASLIN GROUP
Grand Holiday Bazaar
bonus picks: Chick Corea 75th Birthday Celebration
METROPOLITAN OPERA

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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

RANDY WESTON’S AFRICAN RHYTHMS SEXTET
Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th St. and Broadway / 7:30PM, +9:30PM, $35
Mr. Weston is 90 and still a pianist-bandleader-composer brimming with energy and ideas. He has a new live double album, “The African Nubian Suite,” that explores jazz and blues expression as it relates to the African diaspora. He offers a taste of that material with his long-running band, which includes the saxophonists T. K. Blue and Billy Harper, the bassist Alex Blake and the percussionist Neil Clarke.” (Chinen-NYT)

DAVID HAJDU: ‘LOVE FOR SALE’ NIGHT
Sid Gold’s Request Room, mm/ 7PM, $10
“Celebrate one of the year’s best works of music journalism — Mr. Hajdu’s “Love for Sale” — with a two-hour party of “songs, stories and ribaldry.” Mr. Hajdu, music critic for The Nation and a professor of journalism at Columbia, gathers the singers Jill Sobule; Mark Nadler; his wife, Karen Oberlin; and others, showcasing the writer’s long interest in dissolving boundaries between critic and subject. In addition to his work as an author, Mr. Hajdu is a songwriter and librettist, and “Love for Sale” is a fine reminder that criticism, when well executed, need not be walled off from fandom.” (NYT-AroundTown)

MEGAN HILTY (through Tuesday)
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St./ 9:30PM on Tuesday; 7PM on Sunday and Monday; $
“Megan Hilty is a Tony-nominated Broadway powerhouse, so it makes sense that she would try her pipes at cutting a Christmas album. And on her new release, “A Merry Little Christmas,” Ms. Hilty delivers lovely, piano-jazz renditions of the modern holiday-music canon. She will perform many of those tunes, including the sultry “Santa Baby” and the misty-eyed “Count Your Blessings,” during this intimate five-night run.” (O’Donnell-NYT)

DONNY MCCASLIN GROUP (LAST DAY)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, at 11th St./ 8:30PM, +10:30PM, $30
“The turbocharged fusion band led by the saxophonist Donny McCaslin gained an emotionally charged form of renown for its heavy lifting on David Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar.” This engagement will feature the group — with Jason Lindner on keyboards, Nate Wood on electric bass and Mark Guiliana on drums — drawing from Mr. McCaslin’s own new album, “Beyond Now,” which bears a dedication to Mr. Bowie and features brooding covers of two of his songs.” (Chinen-NYT)

Smart Stuff / Other NYC Events
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

Grand Holiday Bazaar
100 W77th St./ 10AM–5:30PM.
One of NYC’s oldest marketplaces goes all out for the holiday season, with a special edition open every Sunday through December 18. Shop amazing gifts from more than 100 local merchants, with photographers, jewelers and furniture designers selling their unique wares. Don’t be a Scrooge and strike through your Christmas list at this market that provides endless holiday cheer by supporting local businesses and by donating 100 percent of profits to four public schools in the neighborhood.” (TONY)

HOT TICKET

Chick Corea 75th Birthday Celebration
“Four decades on from practically founding electric-jazz, Corea continues to innovate with his distinctive blend of fusionista technical flash and subtle introspection. He celebrates his 75th birthday this year with a two-month stay at Blue Note, winding through a number of different combo and duet configurations, with such key players as electric bass wunderkin Victor Wooten, studio drumming icon Steve Gadd and saxophone nobility Ravi Coltrane. In the grand finale (12/8), Corea teams up with groundbreaking guitarist John McLaughlin for what the two call “Return to Forever meets Mahavishnu Orchestra”—a hybrid of the two’s quintessential chops-forward, dizzyingly notey fusion groups.” (TONY)

“This weekend he leads an acoustic edition of his popular band Return to Forever, with partners including the saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, the drummer Lenny White and the flutist Hubert Laws. On Wednesday he performs a duo set with the guitarist John McLaughlin, and on Thursday he begins a four-night stretch with Mr. McLaughin, Mr. White and the bassist Victor Wooten.”
Blue Note, 131 W3rd St./ 8PM, +10:30PM, $55 bar; $85 table
late shows are best bet to find a ticket.

Plus, for all you Opera fans, this week looks special:

METROPOLITAN OPERA (all week)
Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center
“Perhaps the most anticipated production of the season opens this week: Kaija Saariaho’s mesmeric “L’Amour de Loin” (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.). More important, the production will be the return, after an embarrassing hiatus, of a female composer to the house. But it’s also notable for the reappearance of the director Robert Lepage, and the debut of the conductor Susanna Malkki. Susanna Phillips and Eric Owens are the lovers, Tamara Mumford the Pilgrim. Otherwise, Anna Netrebko continues in the title role of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” (Friday and Wednesday at 8 p.m.). Alongside Marcelo Álvarez’s Des Grieux, she’s the shining light in Richard Eyre’s uninspired production. If that’s not enough, there’s more Puccini in the form of the Zeffirelli “La Bohème” (Saturday at 1 p.m., Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.). Still chugging along, it currently has a little more power than usual thanks to the star voltage of Kristine Opolais as Mimì and Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo. Just one performance of “Aida” to round things off (Saturday at 8 p.m.): Latonia Moore is the heroine, Ekaterina Gubanova is Amneris, and Marco Berti, Radamès.” (David Allen-NYT)

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Bonus NYC Events – Music Venues:
So much fine live music every night in this town. These are my favorite non jazz music venues on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who’s playing tonight:

City Winery – 155 Varick St., citywinery.com, 212-608-0555
Feinstein’s/54 Below – 254 W54th St., 54below.com, 646-476-3551
Joe’s Pub @ Public Theater – 425 Lafayette St., joespub.com, 212-967-7555
Metropolitan Room – 34W22ndSt., metropolitan room.com, 212-206-0440
Beacon Theatre – 2124 Broadway @ 74th St., beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Town Hall – 123 W43rd St., thetownhall.org, 212-997-6661
B.B. King’s Blues Bar – 237W42nd St., bbkingblues.com, 212-997-2144
Bowery Ballroom – 6 Delancey St. boweryballroom.com,
Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleecker St., lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. caffevivaldi.com, 212-691-7538
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening enjoyment and discovery.
See Below.

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♦ 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 for these top NYC events in advance, even if just on day of performance.
NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):
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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’. ”

maxresdefaultEach 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.

Website: http://caffevivaldi.com/
Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30PM – 11PM, but varies
Lunch/Dinner 11AM-on
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.
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“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.
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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:

Fish280 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.

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“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
No reservations needed.
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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 Spring 2017).
◊ Order before Mar.31, 2017 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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Holiday Windows

THE NYT “New York Today” column has a nice summary of the city’s department store holiday windows (BTW, I always start my day by reading this wonderful, quirky column):

Most beautiful: Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue, at 58th St.
The store’s decadent, travel-themed windows, titled “Destination Extraordinary,” are like a high-fashion fairy tale transporting you out West with cactuses, to a jungle with gorillas, or atop the rolling hills of a medieval castle. Go at night, and you’ll see the entire block glowing green.

Most child-friendly: Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth Avenue, at 39th Street; and Macy’s Herald Square, at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue
At Lord & Taylor, look out for ice-skating bunnies, dancing raccoons and mice on skis. A big, snugly bear, too. The display, “Enchanted Forest,” feels ethereal and dreamlike. The sparkling blue, night-sky backdrop and soft lullaby bells might make you want to crawl into the window and drift into a deep winter’s sleep, no matter your age.

Macy’s is the best spot to see Santa Claus. Close in tow are Santa’s helpers, his reindeer and the lovely Mrs. Claus. Watch as Santa and his elves assemble gifts at the North Pole and use a special machine to determine who is nice, merry, jolly, ho-hum or naughty.

Best music: Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue, at 49th St.
So loud you can hear it from over a block away — even above the honking traffic. The windows, the “Land of 1,000 Delights,” mix eye candy with real candy: over-the-top outfits alongside lollipops twice the size of the mannequins.

Best lights: Tiffany’s, 727 Fifth Avenue, at 57th St.
The building’s facade is covered with jewel-like lights that are probably larger than anything you’ll find in the store. Do they look like diamond brooches? Diamond insects? Diamond eyes with fluffy lashes and bushy brows? Depends where you stand.

Most creative: Barney’s, 660 Madison Avenue, at East 61st St.
In 2015, the store had real people carving ice sculptures in the windows. And this year, the display doesn’t disappoint.

Another must see over the holidays:

WINTER VILLAGE AT BRYANT PARK (through Jan. 2)
It’s that time of year when the twinkling glow of the Winter Village takes over Bryant Park. Allow yourself to be beckoned by a smooth expanse of ice on the skating rink; the holiday shops full of clothes, jewelry and other gifts; and the warm beverages and treats that come with the coldest season.
WHEN | WHERE at Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues. skating rink through March 5.
INFO Free; 917-438-5166, wintervillage.org (STAV ZIV, Newsday)

 

 

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