Selected NYC Events (04/19) + Today’s Featured Pub (Midtown West)

What’s Happening This Week >

“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 the next two weeks we are going to try a different format – alternating between selected events in advance and a selection of the very best NYCity Instagram photos.

Music, Dance, Performing Arts

THE PHILIP GLASS ENSEMBLE (April 20, 8 p.m.). In 1994, the composer Philip Glass reworked the soundtrack to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film “La Belle et la Bête” with a stunning work of his own, which he has described as “an opera for ensemble and film.” Now, for the first time in over two decades, the Philip Glass Ensemble will revisit his sprawling tour de force, conducted by Michael Riesman; the evening will also feature a conversation with Mr. Glass and the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris.

LINDA MAY HAN OH GROUP at Jazz Standard (April 19, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). Ms. Oh extracts a wide and somber sound from the upright bass. Her tunes lace radiant melodies into airtight rhythms, but she lets big notes resound and permeate: Sometimes her playing seems to be emanating from a crater in the ground. She has a fine new album out Friday, “Walk Against Wind.” At Jazz Standard she will celebrate its release with some of the musicians from the record, and some others: Ben Wendel on tenor saxophone, Fabian Almazan on piano and keyboards, Matthew Stevens on guitar and Rudy Royston on drums.

MILES OKAZAKI at the Jazz Gallery (April 20, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). Mr. Okazaki has been playing guitar for years alongside the alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, which is to say he’s apprenticed to a doyen of experimental improvising and rhythm. Mr. Okazaki’s potent new album, “Trickster,” features the bassist Anthony Tidd and the drummer Sean Rickman, also Coleman sidemen. The record has a rugged rhythmic twine that reflects their work in Five Elements, Mr. Coleman’s band, but it’s also looser and earthier than most of Mr. Coleman’s music. And everything is subtly recast by the piano playing of Craig Taborn, who sometimes scampers alongside Mr. Okazaki’s clean-toned guitar lines, and elsewhere issues cloudlets of harmony, gauzy but opaque.

(4/19-4/30) The Tribeca Film Festival returns.

(4/20) Aida at The Metropolitan Opera.

EIVIND OPSVIK’S OVERSEAS at Greenwich House Music School (April 19, 8 p.m.). Mr. Opsvik, a bassist who thinks with his pen, recently released “Overseas V.” It’s the latest installment in a series of albums featuring original compositions, most of them built around sighing harmonies and lissome textures. But this newest record leans on the twitchy guitar work of Brandon Seabrook and the sharp drumming of Kenny Wollesen; it includes some of Mr. Opsvik’s funkiest and most physically assertive music yet. He marks its release with a concert featuring the personnel on the album: Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone and Jacob Sacks on piano, as well as Mr. Seabrook and Mr. Wollesen.

TITO PUENTE RETROSPECTIVE: 50 YEARS OF ‘EL REY’ at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture (April 20-22). Among the most important bandleaders of the 20th century, Tito Puente achieved fame onstage at the Palladium Ballroom in Manhattan in the 1950s, then brought Afro-Latin music to a global audience. This three-day celebration of Puente’s life — he died in 2000 — coincides with the 50th anniversary of the start of his so-called Latin jazz period. The events include film screenings, panel discussions, workshops, listening sessions and two major concerts: one on April 21, featuring a band of young Latin jazz scions led by the bassist Carlos Henríquez, and another the next evening, with a large ensemble playing tunes from Puente’s Palladium days.

WADADA LEO SMITH at the Stone (April 18-23, 8:30 p.m.). In the past five years the trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has experienced a late-career boom. His monumental “Ten Freedom Summers” suite was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize, and last year he released two celebrated albums: the bristling, crepuscular “A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke,” in duo with Vijay Iyer, and “America’s National Parks,” an equally diffuse and ruminative recording, featuring a quintet. Mr. Smith, a hero of jazz’s avant-garde, has a heavyset, pulse-slowing trumpet sound. Over a week of shows at the Stone you can hear it in a range of contexts. Of particular note are Wednesday’s show with Angelica Sanchez on piano and Pheeroan akLaff on drums, and the April 21 performance featuring DarkMatterHalo, a trio of spectral sound architects.

New York City Ballet at the David H. Koch Theater; April 18–May 28; $30–$175
NYCB’s spring season at Lincoln Center begins with two programs of short works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins (Apr 18–23), then moves on to its centerpiece: The Here/Now Festival, 10 shows that comprises 43 recent ballets by 22 choreographers.

A Violin to Match Its Player’s Skill
Anne Akiko Meyers at the 92nd Street Y
Armed with one of the most coveted instruments in the field, this violinist has built her reputation on a polished sound and brilliant technique. For this Thursday-evening recital, at which she will be accompanied by the pianist Akira Eguchi, Ms. Meyers will put her Guarneri through its paces with new and recent compositions by Jakub Ciupinski, Morten Lauridsen and Einojuhani Rautavaara, alongside well-loved classics by Beethoven and Ravel. CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM

Dance Theater of Harlem at New York City Center
Long before Misty Copeland brought ballet’s enduring lack of diversity into the public eye, this company was carving out a home for black ballet dancers. Directed by Virginia Johnson, this 48-year-old troupe returns to City Center with four programs, Wednesday through April 22. Highlights include new works by Robert Garland and Francesca Harper, José Limón’s “Chaconne,” a new production of Glen Tetley’s “Dialogues,” and two chances to see Mr. Garland’s beloved “Return.” SIOBHAN BURKE

‘Harrison Greenbaum: What Just Happened?’ at the Cutting Room
Mr. Greenbaum is a stand-up comic and magician whose routine combines both of his talents into one creative show. In 2010 he received the Andy Kaufman Award, which recognizes distinctive and unorthodox comedic voices. His stand-up is fast-paced, smart and interactive, and his illusions reveal the same caliber of creativity and cleverness. Catch his one-of-a-kind blend at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. ELISE CZAJKOWSKI

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

(4/14-4/23) The 2017 New York International Auto Show takes place at the Javits Convention Center, with all the latest models available for exploration, plus demonstrations and automotive blasts from the future and past.

Monday, April 17. Explore some of the world’s most distinctive spots without leaving Fifth Avenue at this illustrated lecture with Atlas Obscura. Mid-Manhattan Library.

Monday, April 17. String theory expert Robbert Dijkgraaf comes to the Secret Science Club at The Bell House to ask some seriously intriguing questions. Come ponder black holes, the nature of the universe, and whether the Big Bang created time.

Monday, April 17. World-class athletes have reputations for their focus (at least on the field). Can that determination and precision help us mortals? Neuroscientist John Krakauer (Director of the Brain, Learning, Animation, and Movement Lab at Johns Hopkins) sits down with soccer star Patrick Vieira to find out.

Tuesday, April 18. Eat with your eyes at Food, Design, and Psychology, a talk exploring how our cuisine is affected by the way food products are designed. Prospect Heights Brainery.

Tuesday, April 18. “It’s not magicit’s science!” Bill Nye makes an appearance in support of his new Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World, which debuts April 21. Enjoy a two-episode preview plus a conversation with the man himself and some of his correspondents. Paley Center for Media.

Wednesday, April 19. Sustain yourself and explore the city’s environmental impact at Is New York’s Future Sustainable? Graduate Center, CUNY.

Wednesday, April 19. The new book by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy takes readers on “Seven Journeys to the Frontiers of Science.” Among those trips: What is the true beginning of time? Will we ever be able to predict the future? and Can what it means to be human really be located in the brain? Pioneer Works.

Thursday, April 20. Hear first-hand about the debates and conversations currently going on in and about the Muslim world at Letters to a Young Muslim. Asia Society and Museum.

Thursday, April 20.  The New School spends two days (Thursday and Friday) “looking” at Invisibility: The Power of an Idea. Correspondents include Simon Critchley, Wendy Doniger, Gerald Holton, Mona El-Naggar, Priyamvada Natarajan, and Darryl Pinckney.

Bonus NYC Events – 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
(5 are underground, classic jazz joints. all 6 are within walking distance of each other):
Village Vanguard – UG, 178 7th Ave. South,, 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave., 212-475-8592
55 Bar – basement @55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave.S., 212-929-9883
Mezzrow – basement @ 163 W10th St. nr 7th Ave.,646-476-4346
Smalls – basement @ 183 W10th St., 646-476-4346
Cornelia Street Cafe – UG, 29 Cornelia St., 212-989-9319

Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9ave) — / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway nr.106th St. — / 212-864-6662

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. — / 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.

♦ 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 60 million visitors last year and is TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2017.  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):


A PremierPub / Midtown West.

Russian Vodka Room / 265 W 52nd St (btw 7th/8th ave)

Sure, you could travel to Minsk or even Brighton Beach, for an authentic Russian experience, but why bother. On those days when you feel you must wash down your dish of kasha with a few glasses of icy, cold vodka, the Russian Vodka Room will definitely satisfy your urge.

From the outside this place looks a bit drab, and with no windows, a bit mysterious. Midtown tourists walk right by on their way to see “Jersey Boys,” just down the block.
(Alas, no more. After 10 years, “Jersey Boys” closed Jan.15)

lThose in the know enter a secret hideaway, a dimly lit front room with soft jazz playing – a perfect spot for an illicit late-night rendezvous, or maybe a meet-up with your Russian spy handler, but that’s later in the evening. Early in the evening the large U-shaped bar fills with the after work happy hour crowd, a group made very happy by the much reduced prices.

Their website says: “Welcome Comrades”. Of course, this welcome focuses on dozens of different vodkas, including their own special infusions, which marinate in giant, clear glass jugs visible around the room. The large vodka martinis ensure that you won’t confuse this place with your mother’s Russian Tea Room.

But man does not live by vodka alone. Eat some food, especially the tapa like appetizers. Be decadent and try the cheese blintzes with chocolate, or try a main dish like beef stroganoff with kasha.

Your best bet is to go on a night when the piano man is playing. This guy, who looks like he has eaten a lot of those cheese blintzes, plays five nights a week from 7 to 12 (no Mondays and Thursdays). When the piano man is playing American pop tunes, and you are at the crowded, dimly lit bar testing the horseradish infused vodka, that’s when the RVR shines.

It’s the kind of place where the noise gets louder and the crowd gets happier as the happy hour goes on. I’m generally a beer guy, but I like to come here with a group of friends. We find a table in the back room near the piano man; we eat, and we drink vodka ‘till it hurts (and it will hurt).
Phone #: 212-307-5835
Hours: 4pm-2am; Fri-Sun closes 4am (that could be trouble)
Happy Hour: 4-7pm every day
$4 shots infused vodka (2oz), $5 cosmos; $4 czech draft beer
Music: FR-SU; TU-WE / 7pm-12am
Subway: #1 to 50th St.
Walk 2 blk N. on B’way to 52nd St.; 1 blk W. to RVR
Confusingly, the Russian Samovar is right across the street, on the S. side of 52nd St.
The RVR, your destination, is on the N. side of 52nd St.
Update: music now includes a younger, trimmer piano man. “Tiny” we miss you.
Update#2: Rumor that “Tiny” is back playing only on Friday nights – need to check it out.

“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 (except for certain jazz clubs).
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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