New York City

Town Hall, New York

Hello, hello!! 4 O’clock, the day after, and all is well. It happened again. A thousand times, I’ve talked about how any performer hopes and prays his night in Paris or Rome or Berlin or Amsterdam or New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles is a good and special one. It happened again. We had a good and special one in New York City, at Town Hall. Oh, yes, we had a town hall at Town Hall. Thank you father, thank you New York City.

And so here I am, the next afternoon, all grins and gratitude. And my gratitude list is growing, and includes the fact that right now I’m getting on an airplane to Poland.! I am so thankful for the long  list of good stuff in my life.

Now about Town Hall. What a fabulous venue. It’s warm and intimate, with a balcony, and around two thousand seats. Every seat within 30 yards. I commented to Joe Turano that they kept the lights at a dimmed ;eve; in the room so that I could have counted eyelashes of the people from the first row to the fifteenth row, and could see their jewelry and wristwatches almost three quarters of the way of these thirty yards. I could smell their perfume. This kind of intimacy makes for immediate fast flow communication that happens at the speed of thought. That’s faster than light! The person in the back immediately feels what the person in the front is feeling.

One of the first words out of my mouth was that Jon Hendricks is here tonight. Pound for pound, the greatest jazz singer on the planet, ever. He has the sweetest daughter named Aria, and she and Jon’s nephew, Eldrege, who I know from half note days from 1965 in San Francisco, both accompanied him. I’ve been studying Jon since 1958. Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. I even had a vocal group in Ripon College, from 1958 to 1962, and we patterned ourselves after their work. We weren’t even close. And nobody gets close to what Jon Hendricks does. I commented proudly that he’s been knighted by the Queen and now stands with Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Winston Churchill, proudly representing jazz. He headed up a singing trio that sang jazz like horn players had been playing, with brilliant lyrics and glowing personalities, that immediately and immensely broadened the audience for jazz. This was an amazing feat that he accomplished. God bless you, Jon.

The band was on fire last night, as though we had played the last two previous nights, and we had not. Our sound check earlier that day was light and lively, and full of anticipation for the performance last night. Surprise, surprise! I looked up, and there was Bob Z., knocking on my dressing room door. How wonderful. We see each other only about 2-3 times a year. His wife Denise was with him, and we all three laughed and talked more excitedly than ever. We shared a big and wonderful undercurrent of giddiness about staying relevant and alive in today’s music industry.  Our set that night included a sort of historical walk through of my career, with most of the important pieces including “Mornin’,” and “Take Five.” It was so loose and joyful that evening, that we again popped in a version of Harry Belefonte’s “Day-o,” and closed out the night with George Duke and Al Jarreau’s “Roof Garden”. It had come and gone in a flash, and we were all laughing and grinning and hugging with energy and passion to spare.

 We could have done the whole evening again. We were fired up! We hung out with Jon after the show and did a lot of hugging, both of us wearing straw hats. I’ve never worn a straw hat on stage. Wow! Eldrige faithfully photographed everything, smiling and clicking away. He knew how special this moment was. I couldn’t stop hugging Jon and Aria. By the way, Jon has a daughter named Michelle, who can faithfully duplicate a lot of Jon’s scat singing. She performs and teaches. How fabulous and amazing. I got a chance to see Angel Rangelov, trombone player, composer, arranger, for Quincy and Sara, etc, who I met during the “L is For Lover” days, with Nile Rogers, in a studio, a few blocks from here. He’s from Bulgaria, and beautifully represents the impact and force of jazz as a bridge between cultures, some of them very closed in and either stifled or locked away. Somehow, they heard the voice of spirit and jazz, and escaped to freedom.

Speaking of that, A Bu was there! Who??? I said A Bu! He’s a sixteen year old japanese piano prodigy, with a surprisingly deep and mellow voice, that could be reciting some ancient wisdoms. We met at The Jazz Academy in Montreux, Switzerland, with a wonderful young crop of jazz musicians and singers, that truly are reassuring and give us hope. I signed some autographs on the way out, and silently said my thanks to the four walls and muses of Town Hall. It really was a town hall in the early days.

Now go hugyuself!


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