NYC Events,”Only the Best” (01/02) + GallerySpecialExhibits: Chelsea

“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 future NYC Events, check the tab above:  NYC Events-January”
It’s the most comprehensive list of top events this month that you will find anywhere.
Carefully curated from “Only the Best” NYC event info on the the web, it’s a simply superb resource that will help you plan your NYC visit all over town, all through the month.

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

Queen Esther Sings Billie Holiday: The Lost Classics
Dizzy’s Club / 7:30PM, $20-$35
“…ultra-hip, not because of who she reminds the listener of, but precisely because, whatever influences she brings to the table, she manages to make you think of no one but herself.” – Jazzitude

After making her Jazz at Lincoln Center debut during the 2016 Hot Jazz Festival, vocalist Queen Esther returns for her first time as a headliner at Dizzy’s Club. Known for her wild versatility and originality, Queen Esther approaches each of her projects with a fresh new perspective. She’s received serious acclaim for her unique reinterpretations of Billie Holiday, and tonight she will present Billie Holiday: The Lost Classics. With numbers carefully selected from Queen Esther’s original musical, The Billie Holiday Project, the program spans Billie Holiday’s entire career, providing insight into Lady Day’s body of work as well as her personal life. It’s a perfect format for fans who can’t get enough Lady Day and want to enjoy her music in a live experience that doesn’t settle for the obvious.”

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> COUNTDOWN 2019: JOHN COLTRANE FESTIVAL
>> STEEL PULSE
>> Fred Hersch Trio
>> CHASE BROCK EXPERIENCE
>> Gabrielle Stravelli: Pick Up My Pieces—Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson
>> Giuseppe Verdi “Otello” 

>> Herbie Nichols 100th Birthday
Continuing Events
>> Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

COUNTDOWN 2019: JOHN COLTRANE FESTIVAL  (Jan. 1-6)
at Smoke /  7, 9 and 10:30 p.m.; $45
“Smoke is uptown Manhattan’s trustiest home for world-class, straight-ahead jazz; the venue also runs its own in-house record label. For the next two and a half weeks, it will present a festival featuring all-star groups made up of some famed performers who typically grace its stage, and its albums. From Thursday through Jan. 2, the pianist Harold Mabern will lead his quartet. Throughout the festival, there will be separate performances at 11:45 p.m. and 12:45 a.m. each night, New Year’s Eve being the only exception. From Friday through Thursday, the pianist and vocalist Johnny O’Neal will play these midnight sets; for the rest of the festival, they will feature the pianist Marc Cary and his Harlem Sessions ensemble.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Elsewhere, but this looks worth the detour:

STEEL PULSE (Jan. 2-3)
at Brooklyn Bowl / 8 p.m.; $30
“Reggae has a well-earned reputation for creating good vibes — but alongside the easy tempos and mellow sounds, there’s often a political or religious message. Steel Pulse, the first non-Jamaican band to win the Grammy for best reggae recording (they’re from Birmingham, England), titled their first major label single “Ku Klux Klan” 40 years ago. “Those cowards only kill who they fear/That’s why they hide behind the hoods and cloaks they wear,” the frontman David Hinds sings on the track, which remains depressingly relevant.” (NYT-NATALIE WEINER)

Fred Hersch Trio (Jan. 1-6.)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave. S., at 11th St./ 8:30PM, +10:30PM, $35
Fred Hersch’s pianistic gifts are legendary, but his uncanny ability to assemble perfectly calibrated trios should not be taken for granted. Over the past decade, he’s had a winning combination in the bassist John Hebert and the drummer Eric McPherson, who, as demonstrated on the recent release “Live in Europe,” make up an intuitive rhythm team of distinction. On the final three nights of this engagement, the frighteningly adept alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon joins the unit.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

CHASE BROCK EXPERIENCE (Jan. 2-3)
at the Beckett Theater at Theater Row / 8 p.m.,;
“Brock plants his new piece, “The Girl With the Alkaline Eyes,” in a futuristic setting: a high-tech lab where Oliver, a young coder, is hard at work on a secret project related to artificial intelligence. (It’s all in the title.) In this 70-minute dance thriller, featuring a score and scenario by Eric Dietz, Brock explores the desire between a man and his machine.” (NYT- Gia Kourlas)

Gabrielle Stravelli: Pick Up My Pieces—Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson
Birdland / 7PM, +9:45PM, $30
“Stravelli has a groovy ’70s-chick vibe and a supple, versatile voice that can navigate multiple genres with ease but has a special affinity for jazz. After many years as one of New York’s best-kept secrets, she is finally riding a well-deserved tide of acclaim. At Birdland she rifles through the songbook of country icon Willie Nelson, from songs he wrote (including “Crazy”) to standards he memorably covered (such as “Stardust”).” (TONY)

Giuseppe Verdi “Otello” (next Jan.05, 1PM)
Metropolitan Opera House / 7:30PM, $20+
“Conducting sensation Gustavo Dudamel makes his Met debut leading Verdi’s towering Shakespearean masterpiece, in the first revival of Bartlett Sher’s gripping 2015 production. The cast includes dynamic tenor Stuart Skelton in the title role, star soprano Sonya Yoncheva as the devoted but doomed Desdemona, and outstanding baritone Željko Lučić as the treacherous Iago.”

Herbie Nichols 100th Birthday (Jan. 2-5.)
The Stone at the New School, 55 W. 13th St./ 8:30PM< $20
During the course of his truncated career, the once neglected pianist Herbie Nichols left behind a skimpy recorded legacy, but the handful of albums he cut between 1955 and 1957 are chockablock with his marvellously idiosyncratic compositions and highly personal playing. To celebrate the hundredth birthday of this now revered figure, Nichols’s still arresting music will be presented in a variety of formats: solo performances, vocal interpretations, and a brass band featuring four trombonists.”
(Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

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

More Smart Stuff coming soon.

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Continuing Events

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland.
Bryant Park (btw 5th/6th Ave. @42nd St.) / shops to 8PM, rink to 10PM
Enjoy the Holiday Shops, The Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
The Holiday Shops are open through January 2, 2019 (LAST DAY).

The Rink
This 17,000 square foot rink features free admission ice skating, high quality rental skates, and free skating shows, special events, and activities.
​October 27, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Daily, 8am-10pm (Rink hours are weather permitting and Rink may be closed for events – check here)

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, plus dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.6 million, had a record 65 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2018 – awesome! BUT quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats for these top NYC events in advance, even if just earlier on the day of performance.

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Bonus NYC 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
Joe’s Pub @ Public Theater – 425 Lafayette St., joespub.com, 212-967-7555
Beacon Theatre – 2124 Broadway @ 74th St., beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Town Hall – 123 W43rd St., thetownhall.org, 212-997-6661
Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleecker St., lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474
and one more, not quite WestSide
Bowery Ballroom – 6 Delancey St. boweryballroom.com

For a comprehensive list of the best places to hear All Types of Live Music in Manhattan see the tab above “LiveMusic.”

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 discovery and enjoyment.

Alas, Caffe V is no more, another victim of a rapacious NYC landlord. Owner Ishrat fought the good fight and Caffe V will be sorely missed.
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NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):

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Chelsea Art Gallery District*

Chelsea is the heart of the NYCity contemporary art scene. Home to more than 300 art galleries, the Rubin Museum, the Joyce Theater and The Kitchen performance spaces, there is no place like it anywhere in the world. Come here to browse free exhibitions by world-renowned artists and those unknowns waiting to be discovered in an art district that is concentrated between West 18th and West 27th Streets, and 10th and 11th Avenues. Afterwards stop in the Chelsea Market, stroll on the High Line, or rest up at one of the many cafes and bars and discuss the fine art.

Here is one exhibition the New York Times likes:

For a listing of 25 essential galleries in the Chelsea Art Gallery District, organized by street, which enables you to create your own Chelsea Art Gallery crawl, see the Chelsea Gallery Guide (nycgo.com) Or check out TONY magazine’s list of the “Best Chelsea Galleries” and click through to see what’s on view.

*Now plan your own gallery crawl, but better to plan your visits for Tuesday through Saturday; most galleries are closed Sunday and Monday.

TIP: After your gallery tour, stop in Ovest at 513W27th St. for Aperitivo Italiano (Happy Hour on steroids). Discuss all the great art you have viewed over a drink and a very tasty selection of FREE appetizers (M-F, 5-8pm). OR try this NYT recommendation: “When you’re done, adjourn to the newly renovated Bottino , the Chelsea art world’s unofficial canteen on 10th Avenue (btw 24/25 St.) “

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For other selected Museum and Gallery Special Exhibitions see recent posts in right sidebar dated 12/19 and 12/23.

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