A decade ago, I became an intermittent denizen of the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the best reasons. Although that period of my life has ended, for all things change and shift, I remember those days and nights with fondness.
One of the pleasures for an even more brief period was hearing music at Roth’s Steakhouse on Columbus Avenue in the Nineties. It closed sometime after 2010, so I can now say that the food was indifferent. But the music was sublime. Here is a tender musical souvenir of days gone by — but not days beyond recall. It is a leisurely yet rhythmic exploration of Irving Berlin’s ballad from ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, a sentiment few would deny, THEY SAY IT’S WONDERFUL — performed by two musical romantics who also like their romance to move along at the right tempo, Jon-Erik Kellso and Ehud Asherie, brass and piano, respectively.
In his very admiring chapter on Mr. Berlin in AMERICAN POPULAR SONG, Alec Wilder says nothing about THEY SAY IT’S WONDERFUL, but I will fill in for him for one sentence. Originally, the music for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN was to be composed by Jerome Kern, who died suddenly before he could create the score; I hear faint tracings of Kern in Berlin’s arching melody line, especially evident if one plays or sings the song as a very slow ballad.
Here, Jon-Erik and Ehud create their own world in praise of love not yet realized or never forgotten:
I’ve left the end of the video intact — with the waitperson pushing the specials on hopeful diners — to add to the Rothian ambiance. Another place where one could dine on extraordinary music, gone, but the sounds remain.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Awful Sad, Bliss!, Generosities, Ideal Places, Irreplaceable, It's A Mystery, It's All True, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, days gone by, Ehud Asherie, Irving Berlin, Jazz Lives, Jerome Kern, Jon-Erik Kellso, Michael Steinman, THEY SAY IT'S WONDERFUL, Upper West Side, vanished New York
I don’t smoke, but this sacred artifact (from eBay) tempts me:
And the reverse:
Now, the word “D****LAND” irked Mister Condon, so I hope he didn’t see too many of those matchbooks on East Fifty-Sixth Street.
I wanted to know what occupies that address now, and found this — a perfectly serene Sutton Place apartment building. I would trade it all for one set with a group selected from Yank Lawson, Buck Clayton, Johnny Windhurst, Bobby Hackett, Cutty Cutshall, Peanuts Hucko, Bob Wilber, Dave McKenna, Bob Haggart, Morey Feld — some of the heroes who played at this club.
“We’ll always have RINGSIDE AT CONDON’S,” as Bogie tells Ingrid in CASABLANCA.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Awful Sad, Ideal Places, Irreplaceable, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged "Dixieland", Bob Haggart, Bob Wilber, Bobby Hackett, Buck Clayton, CASABLANCA, Cutty Cutshall, Dave McKenna, Ebay, Eddie Condon, Eddie Condon's, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, jazz club, Jazz Lives, Johnny Windhurst, matchbook, Michael Steinman, Morey Feld, Peanuts Hucko, Sutton Hotel, Sutton Place, vanished New York, We'll always have Paris, Yank Lawson
In 1972, what used to be Nick’s was Your Father’s Mustache — peanut shells, sawdust on the floor, banjo bands, Sunday afternoon jam sessions. Now, that same spot is a Gourmet Garage . . . packaged sandwiches, Brie, crackers, olives, canned tuna, leaf tea.
As much as I appreciate upscale grocery stores, I think the descent from Nick’s to Gourmet Garage can be traced in a straight downward-pointing vertical line.
Somehow I doubt that anyone will walk past that square footage on Seventh Avenue South fifty years from now and say, wistfully, “You know, when I was young, this was a Gourmet Garage. A great cheese department.”
May your happiness increase.
Posted in Awful Sad, Ideal Places, Irreplaceable, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Gourmet Garage, Jazz Lives, Michael Steinman, Nick's, sic transit gloria mundi, vanished New York, Your Father's Mustache