Wonderful music has been happening and continues to happen downstairs at the Barrow Street Alehouse on 15 Barrow Street, the hallowed ground of Cafe Bohemia. Here’s the first part of the splendid music created on October 24 by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, clarinet, tenor saxophone, vocal; Jared Engel, string bass; Arnt Arntzen, guitar, banjo, vocal.
You’ll find so much to admire here: brilliant wise polyphony, hot and sweet soloing, respect for melodies and the courage to improvise. Beauty is there for those who can listen without preconceptions. And they swung from the first note of I DOUBLE DARE YOU:
Then, SOMEDAY SWEETHEART, with or without comma:
Something memorable from the pen of William H. Tyers:
Evan offers the verse all by himself, gorgeously:
When I grow too old to take the subway, I’ll have these sounds to remember:
Cafe Bohemia is also offering a variety of musical pleasures, including sets by trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and a rare session by the two sons of legendary jazz bassist Jymie Merritt — keep up to date with their schedule here on Facebook. Their website is still in gestation but will be thoroughly informative soon.
I will have much more from this band, and Jon-Erik will be back at Cafe Bohemia on November 14 and several more Thursdays in December. And — if that wasn’t enough — Matt Rivera will be creating his own clouds of joy by spinning 78s before and after: see here for the full story. The Hot Club is fully in operation Monday nights (by itself, which is wonderful) and alternating with the live music on Thursdays.
Thanks evermore to Mike Zielenewski and to Christine Santelli, aesthetic benefactors who are making all this joy possible. M.C. Escher would be happy to know that glorious sounds scrape the clouds even from the basement of 15 Barrow Street. S0 find your gloves and that nice scarf Auntie made for you — the one you never wear — and come join us.
and two still photographs to verify that it actually happened on October 13:
Here’s another view, with your videographer at left, next to an voluble woman from the British Isles who had enthusiastic stories to tell. Thanks to Neal Siegal, my Associate Producer for the set, who graciously offered a seat at his table.
Photograph by Doug Pew.
Before this, I had only heard Albanie on a recent CD, where her emotional force (and I don’t mean volume) impressed me greatly. She was and is even more delightful in person, even though my camera was not close to her.
Her single-string playing has some of the ease and substance of early Django and the best acoustic players of the Thirties, and on her one vocal, her multi-hued voice is poignant without being melodramatic. Surrounded by players she admires, she wasn’t intimidated, but created concise, memorable statements as well as adding a great deal to the ensemble. On the basis of this short acquaintance, she’s someone to admire.
Albanie, 2018, photograph by David Conklin.
Here’s the musical evidence. I was wrestling with camera and tripod (and gravity — things fell and had to be retrieved) in a small space, so it took a little time for me to get everything together and to progress to complete performances. But I think the results are quietly spectacular — and that praise includes my heroes Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar, Pat O’Leary, string bass. (In an early draft of this post, I’d typed that Pat was playing “strong bass,” which is true, as you will hear.)
MY GAL SAL:
I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME:
If you have patience for only one performance, make it this one, a supercharged WILLIE THE WEEPER, dangerously heating up the whole block:
I GET THE BLUES WHEN IT RAINS, with a wonderful Albanie vocal:
GEE, BABY, AIN’T I GOOD TO YOU, Magic of Mutation thanks to Jon-Erik:
HOW COME YOU DO ME?:
For the finicky: The Ear Inn is dark, and people talk. But The EarRegulars provide irreplaceable experiences. And my sole words to Albanie are, “Come back soon!”
The people spoke, “Can you post more from that October 17 session at Cafe Bohemia?” And I said, “Yes, I can.”
The sounds come from here (on the map, it’s 15 Barrow Street, New York City):
Good sounds, created by Evan Arntzen, tenor, Felix Lemerle, guitar, Andrew Millar, drums; Alex Claffy, string bass:
There are more beautiful notes to come from sessions at Cafe Bohemia, including one last night with Jon-Erik Kellso, Evan and Arnt Arntzen, Jared Engel, and a surprise visit from Mara Kaye. And more after that!
To me, this is living, breathing music. Listen and see if you don’t agree. And here’s one of the places it flourishes — Cafe Bohemia at 15 Barrow Street, New York City.
On October 17, Evan Arntzen (tenor sax, clarinet, vocal), Felix Lemerle (guitar), Alex Claffy (string bass), and Andrew Millar (drums) played two sets of lively, varied, heartfelt music. And here’s a sample, Charlie Parker’s MOOSE THE MOOCHE:
Cafe Bohemia is hallowed ground — more about that hereand here — BUT it is not a museum of archaic sounds. Nothing’s dusty at Cafe Bohemia, and that includes the tabletops and floor — the music is alive, and that counts a great deal.
And it’s happening tonight: get tickets for a splendid evening of vivid sounds with Jon-Erik Kellso, Jared Engel, Evan and Arnt Arntzen here (the early show) and here (the late show). Before and after the music, as well, the Fat Cat (that’s Matt Rivera) will be spinning his rare and delightful records, and you will hear vibrant music.
Because you love this art, come visit it in its native habitat.
Postscript: if any more skeptical readers ask, “Michael is pushing this new club with enthusiasm. I wonder how much they are paying him?” The answer, dear Skeptic, is that I am not asking to be paid nor am I being paid: I want people to share the joy of fine music in a friendly new place with deep roots. And as we know, sitting home soon means there is nowhere else to go but home.
New York City is full of vanished landmarks: one checks the address of what was once a place both sacred and thriving only to find that it is now a nail salon or, even more common, that its facade no longer exists: it’s now luxury apartments or university offices. But resurrection, however rare, is possible and delightful. The “new” CAFE BOHEMIA, thanks to the labors and vision of Mike Zieleniewski and Christine Santelli, is one of those urban(e) miracles.
There will be divine music there on Thursday, October 24, featuring Jon-Erik Kellso, Evan Arntzen, Arnt Arntzen, and Jared Engel as well as the Hot Club. Tickets here for the 7:00 show; here for the 9:30 show. And for those who “don’t do Facebook,” tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.
Now . . . .
and another view:
LIVE MUSIC for sure. And there’s also Fat Cat Matt Rivera’s HOT CLUB, which I’ve written about here.
But let’s go back to some of that LIVE MUSIC, performed on September 26, before the Club’s official opening — a delightful all-acoustic jazz and blues evening featuring Mara Kaye, vocal; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Brian Nalepka, string bass. Incidentally, only people who regularly attend live-music events know how rare “all-acoustic” is, and how pleasing.
BLACK SHEEP BLUES:
For Billie, I WISHED ON THE MOON:
Also for Lady Day, NO REGRETS:
“How sad I am,” with a grin, for MY MAN:
I’ll have more music from this night, also from October 17 (Evan, Andrew Millar, Felix Lemerle, Alex Claffy) but I urge you to tear yourselves away from those electronic devices and visit the Cafe on the 24th. It’s tactless to remind people but necessary that clubs, concerts, and festivals need actual human attendees (what a thought!) to survive. So . . . see you there!
You might be walking along Barrow Street, on the Bleecker Street side of Seventh Avenue South (all this conjecture is taking place in Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, the United States); you could look up and see this sign.
You might just think, “Oh, another place to have an ale and perhaps a burger,” and you’d be correct, but in the most limited way.
Surprises await the curious, because down the stairs is the sacred ground where the jazz club Cafe Bohemia existed in the Fifties, where Miles, Lester, Ben, Coltrane, Cannonball, Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and Pettiford played and live sessions were recorded.
Here’s the room as it is now. Notice the vertical sign?
This isn’t one of those Sic Transit Gloria Mundi posts lamenting the lost jazz shrines (and certainly there is reason enough to write such things) BECAUSE . . .
On Thursday, October 17, yes, this week, the new Cafe Bohemia will open officially. This is important news to me and I hope to you. So let me make it even more emphatic.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, THE NEW CAFE BOHEMIA OPENS.
That is as emphatic as WordPress permits. I was there on September 26, for the club’s trial run (more about that below) and I was delighted to find very friendly staff, good food and drink, pleasing sight lines and a receptive crowd, so it was a nostalgic return to a place I’d never been.
But back to current events. On this coming Thursday, there will be two shows, an early show at 6:45 and a late one at 9:30. These shows will be, as they say in retail, “value-packed”! Each show will feature wonderfully entertaining and enlightening record-spinning of an exalted kind by Fat Cat Matthew Rivera, bringing his Hot Club to the Village on a regular basis, AND live jazz from the Evan Arntzen Quartet including guitarist Felix Lemerle, string bassist Alex Claffy, and drummer Andrew Millar. Although the Bohemia hasn’t yet posted its regular schedule, their concept is both ambitious and comforting: seven nights of live jazz and blues music of the best kind.
Buy tickets here for the early show, here for the late one. It’s a small room, so be prepared. (I am, and I’ll be there.) And here is the Eventbrite link for those “who don’t do Facebook.”
If you follow JAZZ LIVES, or for that matter, if you follow lyrical swinging jazz, I don’t have to introduce Evan Arntzen to you. And if, by some chance, his name is oddly new to you, come down anyway: you will be uplifted. I guarantee it.
But who is Matthew Rivera?
I first met Matt Rivera (to give him his full handle, “Fat Cat Matthew Rivera,” which he can explain to you if you like) as a disembodied voice coming through my speakers as he was broadcasting on WKCR-FM a particularly precious musical reality — the full spectrum of jazz from before 1917 up to the middle Fifties, as captured on 78 RPM disks.
It isn’t a dusty trek into antiquity: Matt plays Miles and Bird, Gene Ammons and Fats Navarro next to “older styles.” Here’s Matt in a characteristically devout pose, at Cafe Bohemia:
and the recording (you’ll hear it on this post) that is the Hot Club’s theme song:
About two weeks ago, I visited the Fat Cat in his Cafe Bohemia lair and we chatted for JAZZ LIVES. YouTube decided to edit my long video in the middle of a record Matt was spinning, but I created a video of the whole disk later. Here’s the nicely detailed friendly first part:
and the second part:
and some samples of the real thing. First, the complete WHO?
DEXTERITY, with Bird, Miles, and Max:
and finally, a Kansas City gem featuring tenor player Dick Wilson and Mary Lou Williams and guitarist Floyd Smith:
Cafe Bohemia isn’t just a record-spinning listening party site, although the Fat Cat will have a regular Hot Club on Monday nights. Oh, no. When I attended the club’s trial run on September 26, there was live jazz — a goodly helping — of the best, with Mara Kaye singing (acoustically) blues and Billie with the joyous accompaniment of that night’s Cafe Bohemia Jazz Band: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Brian Nalepka, string bass. Here’s their opening number, ST. LOUIS BLUES:
The first word Mara utters on that video is “Wow,” and I echo those sentiments. Immense thanks are due owner Mike Zieleniewski and the splendid Christine Santelli as well as the musicians and staff.
See you downstairs at Cafe Bohemia on Thursday night: come over and say hello as we welcome this birth and rebirth to New York City.
But I’d rather begin with Flip and come back to that song. I would urge those unaware of the glory of Flip to visit here, with otherwise unknown and unrecorded hot jazz. And here’s Flip, in case you’ve never met the little friend:
But this post is really about two heroes. One is this deity:
another is this dear down-to-earth majestic presence (who would surely make a joke out of that appellation), James Dapogny:
And they come together in September 2008, at that wonderful weekend of music we were fortunate enough to call Jazz at Chautauqua. Absolute joy, brought to us by the Flip video camera. Marty Grosz, guitar, vocal, dangerous badinage, offers one section of his HORACE GERLACH TRIBUTE MELODY MEMORIAL with Jon-Erik Kellso, Duke Heitger, trumpet; Professor James Dapogny, piano; Vince Giordano, string bass; John Von Ohlen, drums. In the video, slow-moving cheerfully oblivious couples swim by. They know not what they do. But we do.
To me, this song and this performance are extremely touching because of their heartfelt Louisness — please understand that when I hear Louis singing and playing (let us say LA VIE EN ROSE over a restaurant’s sound system) my eyes fill up and I have to prevent myself from standing up with my hand over my heart. Because Joe Boughton would not — in 2008 — have allowed me to record this performance openly from a front-row seat, I chose to be near the piano and thus hear more of the Professor than I would have otherwise. What a blessing!
Writing this post and hearing this song, I think of Jim, of Louis, and all the people I love who have moved on. We can not meet again in the usual ways, and that is sorrowful. But through music, we are instantly able to meet in the most inspiring ways; we are in touch with each other as soon as I hear a note or think of some moments we shared. Perhaps you might, as I have done, watch and absorb this performance once for our own pleasure, then again in honor of those beloved individuals.