NYC Events,”Only the Best” (01/11) + 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 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:

THEO CROKER (also Jan.12)
at Ginny’s Supper Club / 7PM and 9PM; $15-$20
“A young trumpeter who’s equal parts insouciance and fleet command, Croker recently unveiled a new ensemble: the Big Brother Big Band. That group will cram onto the stage at Ginny’s on Friday, giving uptown listeners their first glimpse at Big Brother’s soul-and-hip-hop-infused take on the large-ensemble tradition. On Saturday, Croker returns to Ginny’s with a smaller group.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

This is a wonderful, but small club. Better reserve tickets in advance.
Only steps away from the 125th St. stop on the #2/#3 subway.

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> DARCY JAMES ARGUE’S SECRET SOCIETY
>> The Enigmatist
>> JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA AND NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF ROMANIA
>> ORRIN EVANS QUINTET
>> CUBA FESTIVAL
>> Bill Charlap
>> NOCHE FLAMENCA

Continuing Events
>> Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
>> Winter Jazzfest
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

DARCY JAMES ARGUE’S SECRET SOCIETY (also Jan.12)
at the Jazz Gallery / 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; $25
“Maybe you’ve heard: New York’s big-band scene is quietly roaring again (not that it ever went completely silent). If you’re trying to find the action, the Gallery is a good place to start, and to understand where a lot of today’s young composer-bandleaders draw their inspiration, Darcy James Argue’s long-running Secret Society ensemble is a good bet. This weekend the sophisticated, space-rock-tinged, 18-piece band will perform works from across its three-disc catalog, as well as some unrecorded numbers. (On Thursday, the Gallery will also host its 12th Jazz Composers’ Showcase, organized by Miho Hazama, with a house big band playing compositions by three young composers.)” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

The Enigmatist (Jan. 4-26 / Fridays and Saturdays)
Play an interactive magic show
High Line Hotel, 180 10th Ave./ 7PM, +9:30PM, $85
This weekend and Jan 25-26 look sold out.
Better jump on this for next weekend.
“David Kwong builds crossword puzzles for the New York Times by day, but by night he’s actually better known as a magician, who has consulted on projects from Now You See Me and NBC’s Blindspot. Now he’s appearing as The Enigmatist at the High Line Hotel, inside a mysterious room called the Riverbank Estate for a night of illusions, cracking riddles and solving puzzles.” (Metro)

JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA AND NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF ROMANIA (also Jan.12)
at the Rose Theater / 8PM; $105+
“Wynton Marsalis is Jazz at Lincoln Center’s artistic director and the lead composer for its large ensemble. The New York Philharmonic commissioned him to write a piece it could perform in collaboration with Marsalis’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and he came up with “The Jungle (Symphony No. 4),” an ode to the urban frenzy of New York City, which premiered in 2016. (It is apparently not a reference to Upton Sinclair’s working-class novel of the same name, which is set in Chicago.) Here the Jazz at Lincoln Center ensemble will perform the work with the visiting National Symphony Orchestra of Romania.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

ORRIN EVANS QUINTET (Jan. 11-13)
at Smoke / 7, 9 and 10:30 p.m.; $40
“Evans, a daring Philadelphia pianist, is as deeply rooted in bebop tradition as he is versatile and incursive. His Captain Black Big Band (which used to hold down a weekly residency at Smoke) released one of last year’s best large-ensemble records, but he’s equally enthralling as a leader of small groups. Here Evans, 43, presents a quintet featuring powerful players from across generations with the upstarts Josh Lawrence on trumpet and Caleb Curtis on alto saxophone, plus the bassist Ben Wolfe and the drummer Ralph Peterson, both respected veterans in their mid-50s.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

CUBA FESTIVAL (through Jan. 20)
at the Joyce Theater / 8p.m.; $75
“Our country’s relationship with Cuba may still be in flux but the Joyce Theater’s commitment to Cuban artists remains steadfast. Starting Jan. 9, the space presents the Cuba Festival. First up is the frequent visitor Malpaso Dance Company, a skilled and earnest troupe that will present a diverse program of works by Merce Cunningham, Abel Rojo and Beatriz Garcia Diaz, plus Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s haunting “Tabula Rasa” (through Jan. 13). The festival continues with the company Los Hijos del Director (Jan. 15-16) and the feisty contemporary Flamenco dancer Irene Rodríguez and her self-named company (Jan. 18-20).” (NYT-Brian Schaefer)

Bill Charlap (Jan.8-13)
Jazz Standard, 116 E. 27th St./ 7:30PM, +9:30PM, $35
“Bill Charlap isn’t out to change the world with his elegant and resourceful piano playing—he’s just resolved to make it a more stylish place to live. In addition to a solo performance and an evening with his sparkling trio, this mainstream master will host a variety of impressive guests, including Houston Person, Tom Harrell, and Jon Faddis.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

NOCHE FLAMENCA  (LAST DAY)
at Joe’s Pub / 8PM, +10PM, $30
“To watch a flamenco show at Joe’s Pub is to harken back a century or so to the Café Cantantes in Seville, where song, dance, music and libations were enjoyed in intimate, immersive environs. Here, the New York-based Noche Flamenca presents “Rondan Los Deseos” (Circle of Desire), which was created by the troupe’s co-founders Martin Santangelo and Soledad Barrio, who are also its star performers. After a previous engagement at the Pub and an appearance on the Joyce stage last year, the work returns with new duets and trios.” (NYT-Brian Schaefer)
(also Jan. 9, 9:30 p.m., Jan. 10, 8 and 10 p.m.; through Jan. 11).

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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 Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
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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Winter Jazzfest (Jan.4-12)
Various Locations, Individual shows $15-55; one day marathon pass $50–$60; two-day marathon pass $90–$105
“During the typically bleak post–New Year’s Eve concert lull, Winter Jazzfest is a bright spot on the city’s calendar. With shows spread across nine nights, the fest brings top jazzers to venues like Le Poisson Rouge, Nublu and, for the first time, Brooklyn Steel. The festivities end with its signature two-night Greenwich Village marathon: a buzzy, multi-stage blowout that’s typically one of the best concerts in NYC. The marathon shows aren’t individually ticketed, so a wristband grants you access to any of each night’s gigs—as long as a given club doesn’t hit capacity. It’s a model that encourages sampling and venue-hopping. The event also requires patience and an open mind: If your preferred show is full, pull out the schedule, and head to one of the nearby spots for something unexpected. This year’s fest continues to stand with movements including #metoo and #blacklivesmatter in its active support of social and racial justice, gender equality and immigrant rights. (TONY)

Winter Jazzfest, the year’s largest survey of the jazz scene with over 100 acts playing from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, with its famous marathon sessions taking place both this Saturday and all next weekend. Here’s a full guide to Winter Jazzfest

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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 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. Hit the Hot Link and 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. (btw 6/7), thetownhall.org, 212-997-6661
Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleecker St., lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474
Sony Hall – 235 W 46th St. (btw 7/8), sonyhall.com, 212-997-5123
and one more, not exactly 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.

See Below.
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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.

CAFFE VIVALDI HAS CLOSED, VERY SAD.
I HAVE LEFT THIS REVIEW ON MY SITE AS A KIND OF MEMORIAL.
As reported in the “Gothamist”:
“Caffe Vivaldi, one of the last bohemian bastions of the West Village, is set to close this weekend. During its 35 years on Jones Street, the casual cafe won the hearts of locals and celebs alike, including Oscar Isaac, Bette Midler, and Al Pacino.

Despite that friendly communal atmosphere, the owners ultimately struggled to survive under their notorious vulture landlord Steve Croman, who they say waged a harassment campaign against the restaurant, and eventually tripled their rent.”

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:

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.

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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 24,000 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 2019).
◊ Order before MAY 31, 2019 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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