Last Time In Long Island City (for the moment)

The sun goes down on NYC

The sun goes down on NYC

I’m writing this from Glasgow, Scotland. I’ve made sad farewells to the many friends I made in Long Island City and  wider New York and hope to see them again soon. However, there is unfinished business and this edition of my blog will chronical some of my more recent experiences in the weeks before I left.

LIC Bar (www.licbar.com) is where it all started for me in LIC and it’s where I’ll finish off. My last visit was to a fund-raising event where musicians performed in aid of the medical costs for a young person called Julia, a close friend of LIC bar’s favorite barmaid, Steph. Some of the musicians I knew (Xavier Cardriche and Corey Lewis), some were new to me and my long term friend and music impresario Gus Rodriguez performed a few songs with local sax player Anthony Cekay.

Gus Rodriguez - a man who knows most songs written in the 20th and 21st century, has a superb eye  for talent and is wonderfully self-effacing.

Gus Rodriguez – a man who knows most songs written in the 20th and 21st century, has a superb eye for talent and is wonderfully self-effacing.

Xavier Cardriche

Xavier Cardriche

Corey Lewis (Animal Pharm)

Corey Lewis (Animal Pharm)

Anthony Cekay

Anthony Cekay

New to me was a young woman who calls herself Dana Danger Athens (http://www.reverbnation.com/danaathens#), fronting her three piece band Damage Control. I’ve been overwhelmed by a few new artists recently and she certainly comes close to the top of my list of musicians I’d like to hear again. Dana is one of those musicians who can come onto the stage and give all her energy to the first notes of her first song. She has a strong soulful voice that rocks, is accurate and stops you in your tracks; forcing you to listen to an artist who deserves a lot of attention on the music scene. Background enquiries show that Dana is, in fact a dancer; that makes sense as she has a gift for performance, though dancing was not what  she was doing at LIC Bar – she was Rocking! Obvious comparisons with Amy Winehouse are welcome but comparisons only serve as a guide to style, energy and image. Performers who do not try to emulate, or be a “tribute band” deserve to be known for who THEY are, and Dana and this band definitely need to be more well known.

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Dana Danger Athens

Damage Control in the courtyard at LIC Bat

Damage Control in the courtyard at LIC Bar

This Saturday afternoon of charitable music making was a  superb example of LIC Bar at its best, a warm sunny day (only a little rain), people sitting outside, listening to great music, chatting and raising money for a good cause. I’d invited poeple over to say farewell and I was pleased to see Christian Coleman, Broc Hempel and Sam Trapchak – a Jazz trio who I came to know well from their performances at the Domaine Wine Bar just down the road. I have consistently been impressed by their music making, often joined by sax player Greg Ward III. Domaine has been a major challenge for me as a photographer, the light is very dim and the musicians (especially sax players)  move very fast.

Hempel Coleman Trapchak Trio in the low light of Domaine Bar

Hempel Coleman Trapchak Trio in the low light of Domaine Bar

Greg Ward III

Greg Ward III

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Christian Coleman

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Broc Hempel

Christian and Sam

Christian and Sam

Back to LIC bar- for one of my last visits I caught one of the outdoor sessions promoted by Planet QNS, a local music promotion setup involving Gus Rodriguez and Neil Nunziato. This one was themed “Hootenanny”, and featured music that paid homage to the folk and country traditions of North America. That meant we had music originally performed by artists like Joni Mitchell, The Band, The Byrds, Neil Young etc – all artists from my youth, and remembered by a large number of the customers in the courtyard. I was pleased to catch some of the talented artists I have known over the past two and a half years: Shelly Bhushan, Julie Kathryn, Jeneen Terrana, Neeley Bridges and her partner Andy Jobe (Walking for Pennies), Neil Nunziato, as always so supportive on drums, Pauline Pisano, PJ O’Connor, Arthur Lewis, John Christopher Alan, Annalyse McCoy and Ryan Dunn (2/3 Goat), Neil Cavanaugh and the ubiquitous Gus Rodriguez. There were a couple of artists who were new to me, Lauren Elder and Matthew Kiss

Check out photos here

I was hugely impressed by Matthew Kiss (http://www.matthewkiss.com) at the Hootenanny show and more so by a full set that he performed at LIC bar a week later. He is a young man with great confidence and ability who sings a wide range of music. From just a 45 minute set it’s clear that Matthew has a great voice and who shows real attention to detail for both his own performance (voice, guitar and harmonica) and that of his band. Like a lot of musicians of his generation Matthew’s music shows influences that span the years from the early 1960s through to the present day. I look forward to hearing more of him.

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Matthew Kiss and Band

Matthew Kiss

Matthew Kiss

Well that just about wraps it up for “Sometime in Long Island City”, over its 18 months of publication it has had over 10,000 views from well over 80 countries – check out the archived editions and my podcasts of interviews with local musicians.  Search “Sometime In Long Island City” on itunes, ( or stream/download from podbean www.earthsounz.podbean.com)

Watch out for my companion blog “www. earthsounz.wordpress.com” which is currently devoted to world music, and for any publications that emerge from Glasgow.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way on my second evening here I came across Mike Heron, part of the Incredible String Band and Shelagh McDonald, a re-emerging folk singer  from the late 1960s. A chance conversation led to steps down into a crypt and an evening of great folk music from these two, plus (playing with Mike Heron) the Trembling Bells.

Shelagh McDonald playing in the crypt of an old Glasgow church, now a bar/restuarant/venue Òran Mór.

Shelagh McDonald playing in the crypt of an old Glasgow church, now a bar/restuarant/venue Òran Mór.

Mike Heron co-founder (with Robin Williamson) of 60s folk icons The Incredible String Band.

Mike Heron co-founder (with Robin Williamson) of 60s folk icons The Incredible String Band.

Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells

Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells

LIC musical talent lines up for stardom

It’s been my privilege over the last two years to listen to a number of highly talented musicians playing at venues just 5 minutes from my door. Two venues, LIC bar (licbar.com) and Domaine Bar a Vins (Domainewinebar.com) have stood out in their offerings: with the pleasing recent addition of music at John Brown Smokehouse and at various bars and restaurants who offer some musical accompaniment to diners and drinkers.

Astoria- born graduate of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Jeanne Marie Boes (http://jeanneboes.com) has been heard in the LIC  music scene for a while. I’ve listened to her play  at LIC bar and eGarage.tv . Many of her previous recordings have been covers, showing an accurate, stylish voice with good interpretations of other writers’  work. She has a strong soul voice and powerful presentation that makes you listen from the first notes.  Her latest single is, to my knowledge, her only available recording of a song she has written herself.

Jeanne Marie Boes at Webster Hall

“The One”  is a muscular, bluesy song, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse in style and, even more so in Jeanne’s vocal interpretation. This is so much an advance on previous recorded material that it’s as if she has suddenly discovered her voice as a writer and interpreter of her own songs; and had the (well guided) courage to present it on CD. The recording has been expertly self-produced with a full, driving sound that pushes Jeanne’s voice straight across a great mix of,  unbelievably, just three musicians: Jeanne on vocals and piano, and  husband and wife team (from the Queens duo “Ekra”):  Brendon Press (Guitar and bass) and Lee Press(Drums). (http://www.ekrasound.com/)

Jeanne Marie(http://jeanneb.bandcamp.com/track/the-one-single-studio-version)

This single deserves a lot of attention, it has “star” written all over it – so buy it (from bandcamp, or itunes) and tell your friends and catch Jeanne when she’s next playing:

May 24th, 2013 / Greenpoint Gallery Art & Music Series (Brooklyn, NY) 9PM

June 21st, 2013 / Queens Council on the Arts (Astoria, NY) 2PM

June 28th, 2013 / The Giving Tree Yoga Studio (Astoria, NY) 8PM

July 20th, 2013 / Kennedy Plaza “Women’s Day” Event (Long Beach, NY) 12PM

Jeanne plans recording a full length album when she can accumulate the funds, I’m looking forward to hearing this.

jeanne promo
Jeanne Marie Boes

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In my last post I talked about some newly released, or soon to be released, albums from musicians associated with LIC Bar – Niall Connolly, Shelly Bhushan, Natalie Mishell and Anthony Mulcahy.

Anthony had his CD launch party at Rockwood Music Hall last week and showed himself to be a relaxed, highly skilled performer of his own music. He clearly has the warm regard of his band of Taryn Lounsbury (violin and vocal), Jenny Dunne (vocal), Barry Kornhauser (‘cello) and Anthony Crowder (drums), which was augmented by bass-player Brandon Wilde. Brandon produced the album and played on a couple, of tracks on the album “For my Sins” so was very familiar with the music. This was the first time that he had joined the band on stage and his professionalism shone through as he mixed his accurate, percussive bass against the more languid lines of the ‘cello. I’ve had a chance to listen to the whole album now, as well as attending the launch and am continuing to be impressed and urge you to buy it.

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Jenny Dunne and Anthony Mulcahy

Anthony’s music is deceptive. Heard in the background it sounds like nice, folk-style music with clearly Celtic undertones. It’s when you get closer to the words and the way that Anthony sings them that you get a real sense of depth of this man’s appreciation of humankind in all its joy and pain, romance and tragedy. On the album he shares vocal credit with Jenny Dunne (the best singing I’ve heard from her), in solo and in harmonies that are best shown in his immediately memorable song “Soft Spoken“.  Bowed and plucked violin and ‘cello feature on tracks in ways that remind me of some of the music  that is coming out of the bluegrass fusion movement that mixes traditional Celtic/Appalachian with 21st century classical styles from artists like Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and the Kronos Quartet; listen particularly to the title track, “For My Sins“.

Anthony was initially reluctant to put the track “Cúilín” on the album, not because it is weak, more, I think, that it is a very personal and nostalgic evocation of his childhood experience on a beach where a river meets the sea in his home town. “Cúilín” paints pictures in which we, too, can recall our innocent childhood play, placing it next to “All Our Sins” of adulthood. This track epitomizes Anthony’s gift for language, making this an album deserving of frequent listening, and careful attention to his lyrics.

Anthony Mulcahy and his band at Rockwood Music Hall

Anthony Mulcahy and his band at Rockwood Music Hall

You can buy the album on:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/for-my-sins/id650018901

and:

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/AnthonyMulcahy

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Some stunning Jazz at Domaine Wine Bar

It never ceases to amaze me how such a small local bar, that sits just over the entrance to the 7 subway Vernon/Jackson station, on the west side, can have such hugely talented jazz musicians in a small space. Last week I caught my old favourites the Broc Hempel, Sam Trapchak, Christian Colemen Trio there the other night, playing with sax virtuoso Greg Ward III. Here’s a few pictures.

Broc Hempel and Christian Coleman

Broc Hempel and Christian Coleman

Christian Coleman and Sam Trapchak

Christian Coleman and Sam Trapchak

Greg Ward III

Greg Ward III

Christian Coleman also contributes his exceptional jazz drumming to a Happy Hour jazz session every Wednesday (5pm-7pm) at local BBQ restaurant John Brown Smokehouse (http://www.johnbrownseriousbbq.com/). He joins local LIC musicians Martin Kelley (Saxophone) and Diallo House (bass) plus guests as “Affinity” for sessions which can be indoors or outside, depending on the weather, in the spacious yard.

The quality of the music is great, as is the food in this casual-style smokehouse environment where you can have stylish domestic and foreign beers, plus everything  you’d expect from an establishment that has, in a short time, become judged one of New York’s best barbeque Joints. the brisket, burnt ends and ribs are superb, as are the moist cornbread and fresh salads.

John Brown Smokehouse has space, and an audience for high quality music. Tell the owners, so that it can become another LIC music venue that will benefit the residents, the businesses and the musicians.

Martin Kelley's Affinity in the Smokehouse  yard.

Martin Kelley’s Affinity in the Smokehouse yard.

Postscript from the LIC Bar – WHO relationship

Regular readers will know that LIC bar suffered in Hurricane Sandy, with the loss of musical gear. The UK rock band “The Who” came to the rescue with the purchase of new gear and the bar repaid the debt with a tribute concert. The concert raised over $7000 for The Who’s charity Teen Cancer. Last week  the cheque was presented to Roger Daltrey by Gus Rodriguez (LIC Bar music promoter) and Rob Basch (who first contacted The Who).

Rob Basch, Gus Rodriguez and Roger Daltrey

Rob Basch, Gus Rodriguez and Roger Daltrey

Last but not least a reminder about Natalie Mishell’s CD Launch at Rockwood Music Hall 2 on Allen Street Lower East Side this Thursday, May 24th, with Julie Kathryn as support.

Natalie Mishell at a Van Morrison tribute at LIC bar

Natalie Mishell at a Van Morrison tribute at LIC bar

Listen to my interview with Natalie and hear some of her music on:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/artist-portrait-natalie-mishell/id523786622?i=153661157&mt=2

and

http://earthsounz.podbean.com/mf/web/396dh/Artist_Portrait_Natalie_Mishell.mp3

Inspired in LIC

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been overseas and also busy finishing my first series of “Artist Portrait” podcasts (see below). Meanwhile I’ve been listening to some impressive music making in the neighbourhood.

The Domaine Wine Bar had a Summer Jazz festival last week and I was very fortunate to catch my favourite trio (Broc Hempel, Sam Trapchak and Christian Coleman) in full swing with guest Greg Ward on sax on the first night. Greg Ward is an impressive player, a real star who travels widely around the world with his music. To be able to hear these talented artists so close to home is a real privilege.

On Wednesday we had the extra privilege of hearing jazz virtuoso Jean-Michel Pilc (http://www.jeanmichelpilc.com) perform two solo piano sets. This man is a genius of the piano. In what seemed to be a series of extemporisations, he drew from the history of western music (especially 20th century classical, jazz and popular music) in creating moving and exciting sounds from the bar’s small upright instrument. If you search for  Jean-Michel on the internet you will find video of him playing grand piano in grand spaces, solo or with small groups. Here we had him by himself, playing for  us in a little bar just by the subway entrance on Vernon Boulevard.

Jean-Michel Pilc playing at Domaine bar a vins

For me this was one of the most profound and enjoyable musical experiences of my 18 months in New York. In bar settings like this you can always expect a mixed audience, but the contrast between the sheer wonders of Jean-Michel’s playing and the loud bar crowd, who for the most part did not seem to want to listen, was a challenge to my ability to focus and just enjoy the music. Fortunately they did not get in the way of my enjoyment, I didn’t allow them to; but it’s a challenge for Domaine to attract a more appreciative audience (who might be tempted to pay a few dollars to hear an artist for whom they might have to pay up to $100 for a ticket in a big concert hall).

The previous weekend had seen the “First Annual Big City Folk Festival” at the LIC Bar (www.LICBar.com), all Sunday afternoon. This is LIC Bar at it’s best. A hot sunny day, sitting in the courtyard in the shade of huge willow trees and listening to a series of excellent musicians brought together under the Big City Folk Collective umbrella, by Niall Connolly (http://www.reverbnation.com/label/bigcityfolk).

I’ve often wondered how such large willows remain strong in this semi-industrial part of town, and quite a way from natural watercourses (the East River, and the Anable Basin). There are three trees, each of  which must be 30 feet tall at least, with heavy cascades of green that flow over the road and into the courtyard. The word on the street ( a phrase which, in New York, has extra relevance – as the streets are full of words) is that the tree roots tap into the public water supply, a worthy gift from the people of NYC.

I didn’t catch all the artists that afternoon, 7 hours in the sun at a bar is a long session, but I did  catch many I knew, plus two who were new to me, Jo Kroger and Chris Mills. Big City Folk is an active collective, with members swapping roles as members of each other’s bands and joing in to offer backup vocals. Whilst Chris Mills offered solo singer songwriter material Jo Kroger was supported by Jasper Lewis, a young and talented guitarist and singer in his own right. Jasper also played in the Sky Captains of Industry, one of whom, singer and guitarist Eric W Harris, managed the sound for the afternoon and also played in the band that accompanied Casey Black. Also often seen was Brandon Wilde; bass player, guitarist and singer, who appeared with his own band – The All-Night Chemists, played bass for Niall Connolly and offered backup vocals for Warren Malone.

I’ve written about Casey Black before. He’s a strong singer and songwriter who hails from Nashville, and it’s to his home town that New York is losing this talented man, who has graced our clubs and bars for the last couple of years. At LIC Bar he played with Don Paris Schlotman (bass), Peter Lanctot (violin), Eric W. Harris (guitar) and Neal Nunziato on drums, with some vocal support from Michele Riganese.  He has just played his last shows as a New York resident and is flying south to his homeland. Let’s hope we see and hear him again  soon.

Casey Black and the Big City Folk Festival band

Jo Kroger is an experienced singer songwriter who knows how to relate to her audience. She was quick to point out that she was the only woman headline performer that afternoon, and one of only three who would appear on stage. The others were Michele Riganese, who supported Casey Black and Matt Sucich on back-up vocals and Matt’s old friend and musical collaborator Jessica, who also provided vocal support to two of his songs.

Jo Kroger and Jasper Lewis

I enjoyed Jo’s music, she has a strong accurate voice and writes good songs in a classic American folk/country style with interesting lyrics. Check her out on:

(http://jokroger.com/wordpress/)

I also enjoyed Chris Mills’ style and energy (http://www.reverbnation.com/chrismillsmusic) . He’s clearly been around a while and sings from his experience of life with great craft as a songwriter. He’s quite different to Jo Kroger in that he has more of a straight line kind of style. By that I mean he sings very much on the beat rather than that kind of bluesy style that rides the beat like a jockey rides a horse, rarely resting on the saddle and flowing with the movement of the song. There’s nothing wrong with his kind of style, it’s an approach that brings focus more on the  words of the song rather than the melody and rhythms that the words inspire. He has a strong voice and brings his words home with a power that makes you listen and take notice.

Chris Mills tells it straight

It’s hard to single out any particular artist from that afternoon – Anthony Mulcahy (http://www.mulmusic.com/) writes such beautiful songs; Matt Sucich was great, renewing his partnership with his old  singing partner  Jessica; Warren Malone played a $50 Telecaster that he had rescued from oblivion; Niall Connolly was as energetic as I’ve seen him, and even more powerful as he belted out his insightful and intelligent lyrics with his all-star band of Warren Malone, Len Monachello (drums), Brandon Wilde (bass), and Dennis Cronin 0n trumpet ; Brandon Wilde’s collaboration with Len Monachello on guitar and Brad Gunyon on drums- the All Night Chemists – were a delight, Brandon writes and sings such melodic songs. (http://www.brandonwildemusic.com/)

I was sorry not to catch Kevin Goldhahn’s “Gantry” – This is an exciting band that I’ve yet to hear properly.

I usually enjoy the Sky Captains of Industry, I like their ironic Sci-Fi style, with skilful lyrics and performance. On this occasion I must say that I found them to be too loud, and distorted. The crew had a reasonable quality PA for the afternoon and Eric W. Harris had managed the sound mix and volume well for everyone else. Then suddenly the volume rose, the sound was distorted and I couldn’t hear the words; we had to go inside the bar, but even then the  distortion in the sound spoiled what I believe to be a good band. I know that this sounds rather curmudgeonly, maybe it is – I do like to hear lyrics though, and also love purity of sound. Deliberate distortion can be an art with intruments, but overloading voices into a small PA is something else.

However, everyhing else was superb. So congratulations to Niall and the BCF crew for putting together the first of what could become an annual event.

Niall Connolly belting it out

ARTIST PORTRAITS

I’ve just finished uploading the last of the first group of six “Artist Portraits” podcasts onto the web. In these interviews with local musicians we talk about their lives, their musical experiences and their development as musicians. The interviews include excerpts of the music they talk about and some full length recordings of their own music.

The podcasts can be downloaded from www.earthsounz.podbean.com or from http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/sometime-in-long-island-city/id523786622?mt=2

You can also hear them directly in this Blog (click on the link beneath the photo):

Michele Riganese

Artist Portrait – Michele Riganese

Jeneen Terrana

Artist Portrait – Jeneen Terrana

Little Embers

Artist Portrait – Little Embers

Matt Sucich

Artist Portrait_ Matt Sucich

Warren Malone

Artist Portrait – Warren Malone

Shelly Bhushan

Artist Portrait- Shelly Bhushan

FOOD AND DRINK CORNER

I’ve made some return visits to a couple of lower-priced restaurants in the Hunter’s Point are over the last few weeks. Casa Enrique is proving to be a popular eating place locally, judging by the numbers in there as I’ve walked past. I took some friends there a few days ago and we were worried that we might not get seats, so we reserved our table for 7pm. As it happened this was not necessary as there were only four other tables occupied when we arrived. However, when we left there was a line at the door of people waiting for vacant tables! There were 5 of us that night and we enjoyed a range of dishes, starting with two servings of freshly prepared Guacamole ($8 each), mild and medium spiced at our request and with offers of more chips if we needed them (a nice touch – it’s so frustrating to run out of  chips). The restaurant makes a point of letting you know that the dishes are prepared to order, so it’s important to have some kind of starter. Between us we had the Lamb Shank (“Delicious, and so good to have the meat  falling off the bone”) – which no doubt was not prepared to order, it needs long slow cooking to get it to taste that good ($20); I had the Cochinito Chiapaneco, Pork Ribs with chilli, rice and beans ($16), very tasty and interestingly spiced beans; The Market fish (Striped Bass) was very nicely prepared and presented, clearly cooked to order ($22).

As always the service at Casa Enrique was pleasant and unhurried. The surroundings are plain white, with little decoration. We sat at the rear of the restaurant, where the ceiling is low. With plain wooded tables and chairs the acoustics are quite “lively”, which makes loud diners with high pitched voices  intrusive at times, as well as the clash of cutlery on plates. This could be remedied  with some softer furnishings in the space; maybe plain, lightly-decorated rugs on the wall, or painted acoustic tiles on the ceiling.

We had to resist desserts as we were returning to our friend’s for those, but we would definitely have had their most delicious flan. At present Casa  Enrique only have a restricted liquor licence, which meant we took our own wine; not really a problem, and also cheaper (they don’t charge corkage).

At a  lower price level, the  local Filipino restaurant Ihawan2 (http://www.ihawan2.com) beckoned us again as a prelude to a late night social event in the city. This time there were just three of us, choosing the oxtail in peanut sauce (Kare Kare), the Combo Barbeque and the Bicol Express (spicy belly pork in liver sauce). Filipino cuisine is new to me, I found the mixture of ingredients, flavours and textures interesting and tasty. Belly pork can be quite fatty and I prefer it crispy (as in their grilled version), rather than soft in this dish: but that’s  just my preference. Two of us had drinks and the check for three came to just over $45 – a good, reasonably cheap meal to start the evening. This is a restaurant which will grow in popularity as it becomes more well known in the neighbourhood.

Just up the East River from us is a little riverside bar at Anable Basin. It’s hard to find places in New York where you can sit at a table right next to the water drinking a cool beer and eating a tasty barbecue snack. The Anable Basin bar and Grill (http://anablebasin.com/) is just that, a bar and a grill in a kind of makeshift building with classic all-in-one bench tables that sit next to what is a mini marina, where you can park your yacht or dinghy. You can also walk or drive there, to the end of 44th Drive, next door to the Waters Edge restaurant (white tablecloths, and which looks like it suits large groups of well-off diners). It has a beach/island feel – casual with a small, but interesting selection of beers and wines and a short menu of international barbecue specialities – Brazilian Steak (Pikanya), Bosnian sausages (Chevapi – with a delicious ajvar relish), Bratwurst, Bison Burgers, salads, corn and vegeburger. This is a peaceful venue, a place to sit and watch the fish jump, the geese beg for scraps and the occasional boat passing by. It’s as close as you’re going to get to a beach bar in New York, and then you also get the impressive Manhattan skyline, especially when the sun is going down. It may not be the Pacific but it sure is peaceful. I note that they advertise “speciality cocktails”, well I might just have to go down there again.

The mooring at Anable Basin Bar and Grill

Some news from Cranky’s (http://www.crankyscafe.com/). It’s sad to see that Lindsay and Cranky’s have parted company. She’ll be missed. Meanwhile I’ve tried a few more of their lunchtime dishes and can throughly recommend their flank steak salads – either straight (with warm corn, tomato etc) or as a steak caesar. The chef Alan has created an exquisite marinade for the steak that makes it melt in your mouth. He’s also created an excellent caesar sauce for the salad – straight caesar, chicken or steak. It’s good to see that the “Eating Theater” evenings are continuing and proving very popular.

I note that there are a couple of new eating places appearing in the Hunters Point area. “Cyclo”, a new Vietnamese Noodle and Sandwich cafe is just about to open, on 46th and Vernon next to Petey’s Burger, and “Spice”, one of a chain of successful Thai restuarants on the site of the, often empty, previous Thai cafe on Vernon Boulevard.

That’s it from me for another week – watch out for new “Artist Portrait” blogcasts over the next few weeks.

More and Even More Music

The last few weeks have offered great musical fare in LIC, some old favourites and some new discoveries. I’ve also had the chance to check out some new recordings. This will be my last blog for a while as I’m off overseas for a  few weeks, so it’s longer………….. .

Blogcast

Check out the first ever podcast of “Sometime in Long Island City” .:- http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/sometime-in-long-island-city/id523786622 or

Listen to this episode

Download this episode (right click and save)

PHOTO EXHIBITION

If you’re n New York check out an exhibition (until mid-June) of my photos of local and international musicians: “EarthSouNZ – A World of Diversity in Music” at Cranky’s French Creole Restaurant (http://www.crankyscafe.com/) on the corner of Vernon Boulevard and 49th Avenue in Hunters Point.

Salif Keita – Great Malian musician and advocate for the rights of alibino poeple.

 

(http://www.salifkeita.us/)

(http://www.myspace.com/music/player?song=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myspace.com%2Fsalifkeitamusic%2Fmusic%2Fsongs%2Ffolon-69436465)

Jazz

It’s been good to catch up with Anthony Cekay‘s saxophone playing at LIC bar (www.LICbar.com ) for a couple of sessions recently. I’ve heard two late night improvisation sessions with Christian Coleman (drums) and Broc Hempel (keyboard) that I’ve really enjoyed. Readers of this blog will know that I am no expert on Jazz. I’m beginning to appreciate different types of improvisations having heard some that are very “free” to others which slightly free within modes and others which are around established melodies and/or chord progressions. I would put Anthony’s between the last two categories, but am open to contradiction (and education!). These two sessions (one just saxes and drums and the other saxes, drums and keyboard) were interesting and enjoyable. It’s was a pleasure to hear two talented musicians listening intently to each other and producing engrossing music that expressed a range of emotions, especially when you know that it is all improvised.

Anthony Cekay – Improvised jazz at LIC Bar

I’ve also caught Broc Hempel and Christian Coleman playing at Domaine Wine Bar (http://www.domainewinebar.com/), with Peter Brendler on bass and Dave Scott on trumpet. This is a really good venue for this understated kind of jazz. Dave Scott came across as a thoughtful player of intricate music that matched well the playing styles of the other musicians. For those of you who do not know the Domaine Wine Bar (my University of Wine and Jazz) it is a small space that, at most, would house around 45 people (check out my “Jazz in Small Spaces” blog (http://wp.me/p1ZFJu-12). It is not somewhere where you would want to be blown to the back of the room by a pounding bass and tough brass section. As such it suits interesting and well played music in a range of styles,with vinicular accompaniments.

Dave Scott at Domaine Wine Bar

Christian Coleman, Broc Hempel and Peter Brendler

I’ve appreciated the Avalon Jazz Band (http://www.avalonjazzband.com) playing at Domaine. They are a French-style Jazz group who I would hesitate to call a “Band”, which to me sounds like a “Big Band”, which is certainly not the case. They are  Violin (Adrien Chevalier), Guitar (Koran Agan), Bass (Eduardo Belo) and Voice (Tatiana Eva-Marie) a group who offer themselves as a nostalgic look at Paris in the 1940s, playing in a mix of styles that they describe as ” … a bridge between the old world and the new, between French charm and American glam, with just a pinch of burlesque and a spoonfull of swing”.  I liked the Django/Grappelli-style Gypsy swing Jazz, but not so much so much some of the sweetly sung romantic French songs. Fortunately there wasn’t too much of the latter and I enjoyed Tatiana’s singing of standards, with a little bit of scat that showed  off her vocal ability. The guitar and violin playing was very stylish and showed great skill. Bass players rarely come forward but I appreciated the solos that Edourdo offered in the sets that I heard whilst I gave in to the temptation of freshly shucked oysters and a glass of chilled Jurançon, a wine that matched perfectly the Blue Neck Oysters on offer that night from sommelier Chip behind the bar.

Avalon Jazz Band at Domaine Wine Bar


Occasionally in New York you meet people in unexpected places. As a follower of musicians around town I get to know those that have a really distinctive sound. One of these is the combination of Charlie Rauh (guitar) and Concetta Abbate (violin). I first heard them accompanying Ali Silva’s reconstruction of 1940s radio plays at the LIC bar winter “Fireside Ghost Stories” series (check out my blog “Live Radio in LIC” – http://wp.me/p1ZFJu-4X ), where they produced improvised mood music (check Anthony Cekay’s Podcast of this on http://page4music.com/2012/03/18/podcast-ghost-stories-by-lucille-fletcher/) . Then I came across Charlie playing with Mossa Bildner in her musical adaption of T.S.Eliot’s “Four Quartets” (see my “Now and again in Manhattan” post (http://wp.me/p1ZFJu-bL). A couple of weeks ago I went down to LowerEast Side to catch Leah Gough-Cooper’s Human Equivalent (http://www.myspace.com/humanequivalent) in an early evening set at a hideaway little bar (the “Recoup”) and who should I hear playing in the Delauncey Street subway station – Charlie and Concetta.

Charlie Rauh and Concetta Abbate

A few days later I went on to hear them play at LIC bar. I think when I listen to improvised Jazz I’m listening for fragments to which I can relate, whether fragments of melody or mood. If the latter I think I those fragments have to fall on fertile ground. If they dont quite fit my mood of the moment then they fall on stony ground. Not they have to match, it’s great when music can lift me out of the moment. If they jar, though, whether in mood or tonalities or just in the sound the instruments make, then I might be distanced. The latter is not the case  with the music I have heard from Charlie and Concetta. It is interesting and does not jar. even  when the tonalities wander. The styles of the players, and the timbres of the two instruments match well; with Charlie playing with a muted amplified guitar that supports the flight of the fiddle as it winds around melodies, scales and arpeggios.

Queens of Queens

Readers of this blog will know that I have been enthusiastic about the Queens of Queens residency at LIC Bar Wednesday nights during May. So far we’ve had two sessions from Michele Riganese, Shelly Bhushan, Little Embers and Jeneen Terrana; the first where they sang all their own material and the second where they mixed their own songs with songs by other writers. The first was dogged by some technical hitches but the four women showed how much their good humour and obvious cameraderie would get them through. The second show presented them more as a cohesive unit, helped by their agreement to each wear black and not to overcomplicate their instruments by expecting too much from the small PA system: handling four vocal mics on top of guitars proved tricky in session one. In session two they only ever had one guitar, plus keyboard and mic-based instruments like the Melodica and harmonica. The more I hear these women the more I appreciate their individual talents and the chemistry of this combination. It was good to hear old favourites from the singers – including Michele’s “Learn to Love” – as well as classics like Dolly Parton‘s “Jolene” (this must be one of the most played American Country songs ever) and “You’re no Good”, written by Clint Ballard Jnr and associated in the US with Linda Rondstadt and as a hit in the UK for 1960’s Merseybeat band The Swinging Blue Jeans ( I’m slightly embarassed to say that I might still have a 45 of that back in NZ).

Check out Little Embers song from the first show:

Before your name  ( an audio file that should play in your default audio player)

And this video

Julie Kathryn

Regular LIC Bar singer/songwriter Julie Kathryn has just released a new EP of her music, “Broken Love” (http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/julie-kathryn/id366405519   or http://juliekathryn.bandcamp.com). She showcased this at the Rockwood Music Hall on 22 April in a superbly professional show which started an evening of LIC Bar- related musicians, with Brian and Silbin and friends and Toronto-based Freeman Dre and the Kitchen Party ending the night with their mix of European style rock.

Freeman Dre and the Kitchen Party. An exciting band from Toronto who rock the night with their blend of klezmer/circus rock and good time rolling.

On stage Julie shows great skill in relating to her audience and performing finely crafted songs in ways that  show an almost visceral sense of rhythm as she supports herself on guitar or piano and links with the group of fine musicians with which she surrounds herself. So we had cello and violin as well as the usual bass, guitar and drums. Check out this video from Carly Massey.

The EP “Broken Love” has just four songs, each of which is emotionally direct and disarmingly personal. Listen to all four at one sitting and you’ll need to sit back and process for a while. Julie sings with an understated intimate style and an exquisite sense of timing that makes you feel that only you and she are in the room.  “I don’t want you back”  is a  lovely subtle production and arrangement for a nicely crafted and performed song. “Not the Same” – presents a nice change of tempo and mood,  I like the lilting simple child-like rhythms and chorus. “Broken Love“, is a  gently rocking song  with spotlit  bass and sweet downward-flowing guitar arpeggios – a song that anyone who has had a broken first love will relate to, a song of lost, but not forgotten innocence that Julie’s singing so beautifully puts across. The last song, “Let this be” is my favourite, (being an incurable romantic and of a generally melancholic disposition). I challenge anyone to listen to this and not reach for the Kleenex! This EP is a gem that I hope will do a great job of taking Julie a long way in her career.

Julie Kathryn at Rockwood Music Hall, Lower East Side

Rachel Wolf

Now, Rachel (http://rachelwolf.bandcamp.com/)is a performer who will take you by surprise, especially if you have no idea what to expect. I saw her play at the LIC Bar in what, I believe, was her first perfomance there. She stands on stage and plays an Indian portable harmonium that has its origins in instruments carried by Christian missionaries and which were used to accompany those Victorian hymns that were a gift from the Queen to an Empire of cheap labour and raw materials. Not that Rachel sings anything like those often turgid and predictable tunes (not all, I should say). As soon as she opens her mouth you know that this is a young woman of great talent. She has a bluesy soulful sound which reminded me of Adele and Pink, with rich texture and accuracy that knocks you back. You just don’t expect this. It’s not just bluesy though, there’s a Joanna Newsom quality too, not just in the way she sings some of her songs but also in the ways she has crafted her music, a  story-telling aspect that also reminded me of 1960s UK folk group “The Incredible String Band”  especially when they incorporated the girl singers Licorice and Rose (not they had anything like Rachel’s quality of voice. At times I would  have appreciated a little more variety in the accompaniment – the portable harmonium isn’t exactly a Hammond and I think some of her songs could have used that  kind of sound. She sings quirky, original songs, check out “Murder Ballad” –

“I’d have been your lovin’ wife, right ‘til the day you died
But cross me and you’ll cross the river Styx.
I’m young and I’m sweet and I’m ripe as a peach,
But bite too hard you’ll get the bitter pit”

Watch out for this young woman, she has a great future!

Rachel Wolf

Kat Spina

Another bluesy voice comes from Kat Spina (www.katspina.com), a who played a set at LIC bar recently. There she played guitar with a  partner Brian Forbes on nicely wrought and understated Fender Strat. Kat has a good accurate voice and takes care to carry the meaning of the words she sings, whether her own or “covers” such as Dylan’s “It’s all over now baby blue”. (When does a cover become a “standard”?). LIC Bar is not an easy venue at the start of an evening. There might just be a dozen in the audience, and some of those might be the supporters you’ve brought along. Some artists just get on with it and others, who look for affirmation from the audience might feel constrained in their delivery. I sense that Kat was a little restrained in this way. I dont think she’s naturally extravert and the sensitivity of her singing requires a steady confidence that for some is inner driven and for others is a product of audience response. Most singers like to get energy from the crowd, making early evening shows a hard road to take.

I enjoyed hearing Kat and have since appreciated her 2009 album “Engaging the Muse“. This is not an album that makes you go “wow!” It’s more of a sit down and listen, or put-in-the-background work. Kat’s easy singing style comes across as more bluesy than in her LIC Bar set and she has the advantage of a backing band that supports her in a range of songs, all of which (except for a Beatles song – “I’ve just seen a face”) she has had a role in writing. What comes across most with Kat is the quality of her voice, soulful yet not strongly so; accurate, yet not sterile; pleasant to listen to, yet not boring. The album has a rather old-fashioned feel, older than 2009 yet not really dateable in the styles and types of music put across by Kat and her band. The heritage is clearly 60s soul, with bluesy shifts; late night music when you need to relax, not get hyped for a night on the town. The track “Constant” is a nice example of Kat’s songwriting, and more in the style that I heard at LIC bar. It’s mainly guitar and voice, with a touch of sensitive violin from Gwen Laster and background keyboard bass; my favourite on the album. I also enjoyed Kat’s take on the Lennon/McCartney song – “I’ve just seen a face, I can’t forget, the time or place, where we just met” a superb example of their talent for lyrics – cleverly adapted slightly by Kat in a  way that reflects the way a pop song can wedge itself in your own life where the universal meets the personal. I also like the way she takes a new look at the rhythm of what was originally a relentlessly fast moving song from the movie “Help”.

Kat Spina and Brian Forbes @ LIC Bar

Quick Mentions:

Really appreciated Chris Michael at LIC Bar – looks as if he’s going from one bar to another if he passes his final exams!! (http://eatthatguitarchrismichael.wordpress.com/)

Chris Michael in the Open at LIC Bar

And last but not least some photos from Brian and Silbin‘s gig at Rockwood Music Hall:

Silbin Sandovar, Brian Meece and Jeneen Terrana

Brian Reece, Jeneen Terrana and Jens Kramer, violin

Anthony Cekay on Sax

Jeneen Terrana, Danny Mackane and Jens Kramer

Rachel Swaner

COMING UP

 LIC Bar

Wednesday, May 16th
8pm ZOE SUNDRA
9pm MIEKA PAULEY
10pm QUEENS OF QUEENS MAY RESIDENCY

Thursday, May 17th
9pm BRAIN FART COMEDY AND TRIVIA SHOW
w/Stephanie Holmes

Saturday, May 19th
11pm
Fiends and Fools

Sunday, May 20th
5-8pm
Big City Folk Sunday Social
Emily Mure, Kevin Goldhahn, and more

Monday, May 21st
8pm LEIGHANNE SALTZMAN
9pm EMILY WOLF
10pm AYAL TSU BERRY

Wednesday, May 23rd
8pm MEGAN KERPER
9pm FIFE AND DROM
10pm QUEENS OF QUEENS MAY RESIDENCY

Thursday, May 24th
9pm BRAIN FART COMEDY AND TRIVIA SHOW
w/Stephanie Holmes

Saturday, May 26th
11pm
Magic Bones

Sunday, May 27th
LIC BAR’s MEMORIAL DAY FEST!
Live music outdoors in the garden (weather permitting)
from 2-8pm

Monday, May 28th
8pm ROKI SOFI
9pm KAT CALVOSA
10pm BECKY MIMIAGA

Wednesday, May 30th
7pm LAUREN ELDER
8pm MELODY KILLS
9pm SWEET SOUBRETTE
10pm QUEENS OF QUEENS MAY RESIDENCY

Thursday, May 31st
9pm BRAIN FART COMEDY AND TRIVIA SHOW
w/Stephanie Holmes

Music Gluttony

This is New York, and you can hear great music any night of the week and many times in a night. Yes, I do go across (and under) the sea strait (“East River”) into Manhattan, and across the creek into Brooklyn (check out my “Now again in Manhattan” blog). Over these past couple of weeks I’ve been to quite a few. “Do you go to music every night” said one of my friends as we met for the third night running in different places. Of course I said the same to him. It’s like that here; a big place but a village feel, especially in Long Island City where you can hear live music on at least four, if not more, nights in the week. Check out: LIC Bar (Sun,Mon,Wed and Sat – see http://www.licbar.com/eventcalendar/evcal.html); Domaine Wine Bar (Jazz on Sun, Mon and more) http://www.domainewinebar.com/calendar.html; Dominies Hoek (Wed.), Madera Cuban restaurant (Fri.). Occasionally you might get music at the New York Irish Center on Jackson Ave. (http://www.newyorkirishcenter.org/events.htm) at Creek and Cave on Jackson (http://creeklic.com/calendar)and LIC Art Center complex (http://www.licartcenter.com/).

Last night I went to a charity event in a nearby apartment building, Avalon Riverview North, organised by opera singer Kirstin Olson. This was in aid of her trip to Paraguay to join in a Habitat for Humanity project where volunteers spend time building houses for poor communities; a charity with real practical tasks that involve people on a very direct level, good for the communities and also good for fostering international understanding. (http://www.habitat.org) This event was just across the road from my apartment building, and a triumph for the community spirit of local businesses including Shi (http://www.shilic.com), Skinny’s Cantina and Manducatis Rustica (www.manducatisrustica.com)who provided the food and drink, as well as the many others who provided raffle prizes and silent auction vouchers.

Kirstin Olson - operatic dramatics

Three local Jazz artists were involved in this charity event; Anthony Cekay, Christian Coleman and Broc Hempel, offering some nice, finely wrought at the beginning of the evening.

Christian Coleman and Broc Hempel playing for Habitat for Humanity

Kirstin  offered a range of opera, lieder and “songs from the shows” that showed that she has a great talent. She’s a young singer, properly trained and starting to make her way in her career. Her operatic training  showed in both her ability to express a wide emotional range and also to project her voice across a talkative audience. As the evening progressed the two other singers, P J Lovejoy and Sally Swallow suffered from a lack of amplification. They had nice voices but struggled to make themselves heard over the increasing hubbub of the crowd. Sally Swallow (www.sallyswallow.com), in particular has a good theatrical presence, showing that she is a professional and well used to entertaining an audience with a nicely chosen range of songs from musical theatre. Piano accompaniment for the evening was very ably provided by Scott Wheatley, an expert and expressive pianist who played some challenging music with great skill, which showed especially in the complicated and ernergetic lied “Hexenlied” Op 8/8 by Mendelssohn.

Sally Swallow

I had seen Anthony Cekay and Broc Hempel earlier in the week at an LIC Bar evening which also included singer songwriter Danny Mackane and Leah Gough-Cooper’s “Human Equivalent” band.

Leah Gough-Cooper (http://www.leahgoughcooper.com) played in Emily Wolf’s “Project” band a few weeks previously (see https://sometimeinlongislandcity.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/a-jazz-virgin-in-lic/) and was impressed then by her alto sax playing. “Human Equivalent” allows her to show that she has a wide range of taste and has considereable writing ability. This is a jazz band that rocks in ways that reminded me of Weather Report and Frank Zappa, with driving bass lines from Bryan Percivall, bluesy tough liquid guitar playing from Andrew Baird and solid drums from Bob Edinger.

Leah Gough-Cooper

Leah herself was superb in leading this  band and providing sinuous and provocative sax lines that showed she has a huge musical talent. The contrast with her playing for Emily Wolf shows that she has the flexibility and real musicianship that will hopefully offer her lots of work opportunties in an environment where making a living is hard, even for the most talented of musicians.

Originally from South Eastern Scotland, Leah has trained in the US for the last few years and has been very active on the local scene for the past year or so.  She chooses her band well. This night’s band had a completely  different lineup (except for LGC) to the Human Equivalent that features on their first album “Future Pop“, yet the music has the same rock/jazz feel and shows that  she is a young artist who really knows how she wants her music to sound and who chooses musicians who are of like mind and capabilities.

Human Equivalent

Check out http://www.myspace.com/humanequivalent .

Anthony Cekay

Anthony Cekay is one of those local musicians who pops up on many different occasions at LIC Bar; whether offering sax backing to a tribute show, as part of the band of folk/pop singer Julie Kathryn or, as on this occassion, pairing up with local keyboard man Broc Hempel for a late night improvisation session. Anthony plays a big saxaphone. The tenor sax sits one down from the baritone sax in size and, in a small space can take up a lot of room, both in physical presence and in sound. Anthony himself is not a small guy and in the past I have felt that his habit of moving around a lot on stage has detracted from his music making. However, I was pleased to see that this late night session offered a part of Anthony that I had not seen before. He offered performance that showed considerable concentration. The almost meditative stillness of the music matched stillness in his body. This was not the Anthony who seemed to be showing off, this was the Anthony who just demonstrated skilled music making.

Broc Hempel

I have great respect for Broc Hempel. He is a hugely talented keyboard player whose playing is always interesting; whether thoughtful and introverted or sparklingly exuberant. I realise that in the past week I have heard him three times (at Domaine Wine Bar on Sunday with Sam Trapchak, Christian Coleman and the amazing Greg Ward, just back from Africa; at LIC Bar on Monday and last night at the Habitat for Humanity event. I do not tire from hearing this man’s music making. he is one of a small group of local musicians whom I credit with having turned me on to Jazz (see my previous blogs https://sometimeinlongislandcity.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/jazz-in-small-spaces/”Jazz in small spaces”  and “A Jazz Virgin in LIC”).

Danny Mackane (http://www.myspace.com/dannymackanesound) is a singer songwriter who shares his thoughtful and intelligent songs with a self-effacing but carefully considered performance style. He reminded me, in presence, of the younger Neil Young – hair falling over his face as he moved from guitar to keyboard. Although he does not have Young’s individual voice he shares a perfectionist attitude to the sounds that he wants his guitars to make, whether in themselves as instruments (he had three on stage with him) or in the way that he uses electronics to create the sound he needs. He is a performer who demands to be heard with attention, not an easy task in a popular place like LIC Bar. He did, however, bring his own fans and will have hopefully given others, like me, a first opportunity to really listen and want to hear him again – especially in his own material.

Danny Mackane

Singer songwriters are not just solo folk artists who sit at the mic in bars, some also have band incarnations within which they express aspects  of themselves that more intimate settings do not permit. One such local artist is Little Embers, a young woman who often shares the stage as a backing singer with other singer songwriters like Michele Riganese, Shelly Bhushan and Jeneen Terrana. In fact this  group of four (currently known as the Queens of Queens) are coming to LIC Bar in May as a resident act for the five Wednesdays of the month. Embers also has own band and also shares the limelight with Danel Verdugo as the “Darlin’ Clementines“. I caught her full band version of herself at Mercury Lounge last week, when they were the support act for Wormburner. The Mercury Lounge is a popular venue on East Houston Street in that area between East Village/Bowery and Lower East Side that is a true nest of venues like the Living Room and Rockwood Music Hall.

Little Embers - burning brightly

I was pleased that they sold earplugs at the bar as the sound there was one of the worse I have heard in New York City. It was not so much the volume but the quality and frequency spectrum produced by a combination of the system and the sound engineer’s choices. This made it hard to listen to the music, and especially the lyrics. Little Embers writes songs to be both heard and appreciated lyrically. I know I might be sounding like an old grump but, in my defence, I must say that I am not averse to loud music. I have sat 6 feet away from Jimi Hendrix playing “3rd stone from the sun” in the Marquee club in London (a small venue) and only a few weeks ago listened with great pleasure to rock band Alamance ( a great band with a lot of potential) playing loud, energetic and powerful  music at the Bowery Poetry Club http://www.bowerypoetry.com/). They have a sound system and engineer that I would place in the top 5 of the sound systems I have heard in small clubs around the world.

Alamance at the Bowery Poetry Club

Fortunately I was able to buy ear plugs at Mercury and listened carefully to the music from Little Embers; a forceful rock/melodic set that offered energetic performance from Embers, her man, guitarist Anthony Rizzo, Shelly Bhushan (vocals), Rachel Swaner (keyboard, vocals and Accordian), Tony Oppenheimer (bass) and Dave Burnette (drums).  I have their album on the rack to listen to next, and I know that they’re are due to go into the studio again in the next few months. I enjoyed this music making and look forward to hearing them again in a better acoustic environment.

Little Embers and Band at the Mercury Lounge

I’m aware that there is much music that I haven’t written about here, in fact I’m getting behind with putting band photos up on my facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/profile.php?id=100001041228357) as well. That means I will have to do a catch up sometime soon and talk about Runaway Dorothy, Sam McTavey, Niall Connolly (how have I not praised this man’s music yet in this blog?), Warren Malone, the Sky Captains of Industry, Janeen Terrana, Jefferson Thomas as well as numerous others whom I have had great pleasure in hearing over the past year or so in LIC.

Here’s a plug (is that term used in the US?) for tonight’s show at LIC bar. In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, an impressive line-up of musicians will present a Tribute to Van Morrison from 7-9pm. Also come along on Sunday 18th from 5 until 8 to hear Niall Connolly and Anthony Mulcahy in a Big City Folk special.

Jazz in small spaces

I’ve always liked Jazz but haven’t been “into” it – it’s a separate crowd, who always appear incredibly knowledgeable and can reel off names of obscure players and compare styles with what sounds like a high degree of listening and musical skill; not an easy world to break into without seeming an imposter, fool or an outsider. So when I approach jazz events in this neighbourhood I have been careful about not getting into too deep a conversation with people who, I assume, know a whole lot more about what is being played than I do. I realise that this, in itself is a stupid position and am now boldly going forth and enjoying long conversations with talented and knowledgable folk!
I’ve heard Jazz at the LIC Bar, the Domaine Bar à vins (www.domainewinebar.com)and at Cranky’s. I’ve also caught some brilliant Jazz/Gypsy violin playing at the Madera Cuban restaurant (www.maderacubangrill.com) from a player whose name escapes me for the moment but who is playing there again in a couple of weeks . This is alomst a secret location, they don’t advertise their musicians anywhere but, like many cafes and restaurants around New York you can often be surprised by the quality of musicians finding a way to earn their keep in a highly competitive market. Madera has a nice little bar and the food is good and the welcome is generous, as are the cocktails. Musicians play on Friday nights.
The main Jazz venue here is Domaine, where you can often catch a band on different nights of the week, sometimes by surprise as you leave the subway station and are tempted in by the sounds and the thought of a pleasant glass of wine and a selection of cheeses and or charcuterie (you can even get $1 oysters in their happy hours, but no live Jazz at these times.). This little bar has a great selection of wines that are “off the beaten track”. Certified sommelier, Cipriani (“Chip”) Toma will guide you through their interesting cellar and make matches with the wide range of great European and American artisan cheeses that are available on the menu. You can expect attention to detail which matches the very high quality of the jazz. Why go to Manhattan when there is this standard so close to home?

Sam Trapchak

Domaine is a venue for the Long Island City Jazz Alliance with a jam session every Monday night (www.licja.org ). There are some regular artists that you will catch around the area. I especially like the rhythm section of Christian Coleman and Sam Trapchak, two very talented composers and performers. They play with various instrumentalists like Broc Hempel (keyboards), Greg Ward, Martin Kelley and Anthony Cekay (saxes). Sam writes great tunes. You can hear some of his compositions on the album Lollipopocalypse , featuring one of Sam’s bands “Put Together Funny” (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/samtrapchak). I especially like “Precious few”, a track that starts off meandering around and then settles down into a really nice melodic line. Christian doesn’t play on this album but has joined Sam with this band when they have played at LIC Bar, check out his CD “Pigments” – available very soon.

Christian Coleman - a mean drummer - the best

Greg Ward (www.gregward.org) is a very impressive sax player, you can tell that he is in the music and the music is in him. It was a great joy last night to hear him play with Broc, Sam and Christian at the Domaine accompanied by an interesting Malbec, a Cotes de Rhone and a taste of my favourite (as Chip remembered) Gaillac ( and I mustn’t forget cheese to die for). Check out this clip of Hempel, Coleman Trapchak at the Domaine – www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWAdDFHRLTw

LIC bar often has some great jazz. I was fortunate to catch a great line-up a few weeks ago -three bands fronted by differently gifted women, two singers and a violinist with three different cultural origins, Belgium born Israeli, Japanese and English.
I arrived later than I would have liked and entered in the middle of Tammy Scheffer’s set. I was immediately sorry that I had missed some as she grabbed my attention as soon as entered the door. Tammy has an extraordinary pure and accurate voice that could hold its own in any genre. Her preference is for jazz, presenting a mix of improvisation/scat, arrangements of standards and songs that she has written herself; often with their origins in Hebrew folk tunes. She was supported by a small tight band of bass, drums and guitar. Tammy has an album “Wake up, Fall asleep” which shows off her talents as a singer, composer and arranger. (check out http://www.tammyscheffer.com/

Tammy Scheffer at LIC Bar

Another singer, Emily Wolf (emilywolfjazz.com/), ended the evening. English-born and living in NYC, Emily showed her roots in a classy Sarah Vaughan/Cleo Laine range of styles, a mix of standards, lots of scat and s sassy attitude. In the cause of following the previous Hebrew and Japanese themes, I wanted her to connect with the cultural themes and present some material that had English origins, remembering jazz interpretations of songs from Shakespeare such as those in Cleo Laine and John Dankworth’s classic 1960s album “Shakespeare And All That Jazz”. Emily has a great smile that connects her with her audience, she knows how to put on a show and to pull together her band.

Emily Wolf

Tomoko Omura (tomokoomura.com/live/), is a clever jazz violinist and composer who creates compositions that draw on folk songs from her native land. She plays in a brilliant, but not flashy style that extends the violin beyond the not insignificant legacy of Stephane Grappelli. Supported by a talented group of bass, drums, guitar and keyboard. It’s hard for a violinist to front a band, playing it is often an introverted activity. Tomoko did well to connect with attentive audience and gained deserved approval for her music.

Tomoko Omura

Well that just about wraps it up for today. I’ve had a busy weekend music-wise, a lot to report on in the next music blog. I’m off to the LICJA jam session tonight at the Domaine – looking forward to hearing Amanda Monaco on guitar.