Selected NYC Events (12/21) + Museum Special Exhibitions: Manhattan’s WestSide

“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 Music Events see tab above: NYC Holiday Shows+

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

FREDDY COLE QUARTET WITH HARRY ALLEN (Dec. 20-24)
Birdland, 315 W44th St. / 8:30 and 11PM, $40
“Not so long ago, the first thing to say about the jazz singer and pianist Freddy Cole was that he had a sound and identity apart from his incandescently famous brother Nat King Cole. (He boiled down the issue perfectly with the title of one of his albums: “I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me.”) But on his new release, “He Was the King,” Mr. Cole pays fraternal tribute with an appreciation refreshingly untinged by awe. He has a special guest here in Mr. Allen, a saxophonist of unflagging assurance.” (Nate Chinen-NYT)

5 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY

Kenny Barron
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Chris Botti 12th Annual Holiday Residency
Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano
Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story
bonus pick: METROPOLITAN OPERA

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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

Kenny Barron (thru Dec.25)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave. S., at 11th St./ 8:30PM, +10:30PM, $30
“The dean of mainstream jazz piano gets to display two sides of his multidimensional musical personality during this two-week residency. First, he calls on Kiyoshi Kitagawa and Johnathan Blake, who complete the sleek trio that finally débuted with this year’s album “Book of Intuition.” He then beefs up the band with the saxophonist Dayna Stephens and the vibraphonist Steve Nelson, gaining hard-bop muscle in the process.“ (NewYorker)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
City Center, 131 W55th St./ $25+
“In the second week of the season, the major premières are unveiled. First up is the full version of Kyle Abraham’s “Untitled America,” a three-part piece about mass incarceration that the company has been revealing in short installments. The first two sections, evocative but treading water, embodied the pain of separation; will the completed work add up to more? Also new is “r-Evolution, Dream” by the company member Hope Boykin, an inspirational effort with a jazz score by Ali Jackson and speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., recorded by Leslie Odom, Jr.” (NewYorker)

Chris Botti 12th Annual Holiday Residency (thru Jan.08)
Blue Note, / 8PM, +10:30PM, $50 Bar; $95 Table
“Botti’s trumpet skills are actually as good as his telegenic looks, even if he rarely puts them to use playing the kind of bop he cut his teeth on. A consummate showman, Botti presents his blend of smooth jazz-funk, glossily Miles-ian ballads and assorted pop and classical chestnuts at the Blue Note for his 12th annual holiday residency.” (TONY)

Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano: Downton Abbey Road (thru Dec 22)
Birdland, 315 W44th St./ 6PM, $30
“Chanteuse Fasano, at once cool and sultry, and her understatedly suave hubby, pianist Comstock, survey standards written by British songwriters ranging from Noël Coward and Ivor Novello to the Beatles and Sting.” (TONY)

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

Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story
New York Public Library—Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 Fifth Ave./ 6:30PM, FREE
“With John Bloom, a veteran investigative journalist, three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, and a Pulitzer Prize nominee.

This lecture traces the conception, development, and launching of Iridium, a revolutionary satellite system developed by Motorola in the early 1990s.”

AMNH Presents | Hayden Special Event: Winter Telescope Party
American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St. Hayden Planetarium Space Theater/ 7PM, $15 – SOLD OUT
I listed this event because it’s the type of event that the AMNH puts on periodically and a good reason why you should monitor their public events calendar.
“Join Museum astrophysics educators Steve Beyer, Brian Levine, and Ted Williams for a sneak peek at the celestial objects that appear in our winter sky. Begin the evening by learning the techniques of observation from inside the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater using its state-of-the-art Zeiss Mark IX Star Projector. Then, weather permitting, head out to the Arthur Ross Terrace, where you can sip hot chocolate as you look through telescopes with members of the Amateur Astronomers Association.” (ThoughtGallery.org)

Plus, for all you Opera fans, this week looks special:
METROPOLITAN OPERA (all week)
Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center

“Four productions on the bill this week, including a continuation of Kaija Saariaho’s important “L’Amour de Loin” (Dec. 17 at 8 p.m., Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m.), in a brightly illuminated production by Robert Lepage. Strauss’s unnerving, bloody “Salome” continues, too (Dec. 17 at 1 p.m.), with Patricia Racette in the title role, Zeljko Lucic as Jochanaan and Gerhard Siegel as Herod. Johannes Debus conducts. Elijah Moshinsky’s staging of “Nabucco” (Dec. 16, Dec. 19 and Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m.) is notable for the reappearance, wise or otherwise, of Plácido Domingo in another baritone role, and perhaps more so for Liudmyla Monastyrska’s Abigaille. James Levine has the baton. And last, “The Magic Flute” (Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.) begins its run as a holiday production, in Julie Taymor’s abridged production, and in English. The cast is young, but Christopher Maltman will be a marvelous Papageno.”
212-362-6000, metopera.org (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 Vivaldi32 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.

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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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WHAT’S ON VIEW
My Fave Special Exhibitions – MUSEUMS / Manhattan’s WestSide
(See the New York Times Arts Section for listings of all museums,
and also to see their expanded reviews of these exhibitions)

Museum of Modern Art:
‘FROM THE COLLECTION: 1960-1969’ (through March 12, 2017)
“MoMA shakes up its sanctum sanctorum, installing half of its permanent collection galleries with works chosen by 17 curators from a single decade: the tumultuous 1960s. The limited time frame is balanced by unprecedented breadth and variety. As never before, the presentation mixes together objects and artworks from all six of the museum’s curatorial departments. The blend is alternately stimulating and bewildering, revelatory and infuriating: yet another symptom of the museum’s limited curatorial mind-set. 212-708-9400, moma.org.” (Smith)
 ‘TONY OURSLER: IMPONDERABLE’ (through April 16, 2017)
“This small exhibition is centered on a 90-minute film in which episodes from the history of spiritualist frauds and hoaxes are re-enacted by people in fanciful costumes while mystic flames, smoke and ectoplasmic phenomena come and go. At certain moments during “Imponderable,” you feel breezes wafting over you and hear loud thumping under the theater’s risers. The crudeness of these effects is part of the generally comical spirit. It’s all about the confusion between illusion and reality to which human beings seem to be congenitally susceptible. 212-708-9400, moma.org.” (Johnson)

 Whitney Museum of American Art:
‘CARMEN HERRERA: LINES OF SIGHT’ (through Jan.02, 2017)
“At 101, the artist Carmen Herrera is finally getting the show the art world should have given her half a century ago: a solo exhibition at a major museum in New York, where she has lived and worked since 1954. This compact but ravishing exhibition of about 50 works focuses on the pivotal period of 1948-78 — years in which Ms. Herrera developed her signature geometric abstractions, pared-down paintings of just two colors but seemingly infinite spatial complications. Although it’s not the full retrospective Ms. Herrera deserves, the Whitney’s show presents her as an artist of formidable discipline, consistency and clarity of purpose, and a key player in postwar art history. 99 Gansevoort Street, at Washington Street, 212-570-3600, whitney.org.” (Rosenberg)
‘HUMAN INTEREST: PORTRAITS FROM THE WHITNEY’S COLLECTION’ (through Feb.12, 2017)
“A year ago, the Whitney inaugurated its new downtown home with a permanent collection showcase called “America Is Hard to See.” Its even more immediately engaging successor, devoted entirely to portraiture, is now on view and might well have been subtitled “Americans Are Strange to Look At,” which, in the 250 images here, we sure are: funny-strange, beautiful-strange, crazy-strange, dangerous-strange, inscrutable-strange. The work is arranged by theme and spread over two floors. There are magnetic images everywhere. 99 Gansevoort Street, 212-570-3600, whitney.org.” (Cotter)

“DREAMLANDS: IMMERSIVE CINEMA AND ART’, 1905-2016′ (thru Feb.05, 2017)
“The Whitney’s new exhibit offers visitors a chance to explore more than a century of experimentation in cinema, mostly by American artists. See works that question and play with elements such as color, touch, music, spectacle, light and darkness, animation and dimension. There will be a film series in addition to the 18,000 square feet of gallery space devoted to the show.” (Newsday)

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For other selected Museum and Gallery Special Exhibitions see Recent Posts in right sidebar dated 12/19 and 12/17.
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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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