Marcia Hillman Writes From Manhattan

The New Year came in on a cold air note but always on a hot jazz one. Chris Botti wound up his annual start of the year visit to the Blue Note and the music continued loud and strong at the usual jazz venues throughout the month. The Peter Bernstein Quartet with Brad Mehldau, Greg Hutchinson and Christian McBride graced the bandstand at Dizzy’s to warm some of the cold nights.
Motema Records celebrated its Grammy nominated artists Rene Marie, Rufus Reid and Arturo O’Farrill at a party at Birdland in advance of the Grammy awards. Note: Arturo O’Farrill’s CD Offense of the Drum went on to win the Grammy in the Latin Jazz category.
The Bill Charlap Trio (Charlap, Peter Washington and Kenny Wash-ington) delighted audiences at Smoke for three nights. Smoke was also the scene of a CD release party for Orrin Evans album Liberation Blues on the Smoke Sessions record label. At another CD release party (this one at Kitano) vibes player Mark Sherman along with pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Ray Drummond made some great music. By the way, CD release parties at the jazz clubs are becoming more and more popu-lar since it is a good way (in addition to radio play) to introduce the pub-lic to new albums.
The Miller Theatre at Columbia University presented a night with the Renee Rosnes Quartet (Rosnes, on piano, Steve Wilson on vibes, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Bill Stewart) as part of their jazz series concerts. Mike Longo’s New York State of the Arts Jazz Ensemble con-certized at the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium of the Bahai Center in the Village.

News arrived of a new venue opening. The Whynot Jazz Room, lo-cated in the West Village is the new kid on the block and their booking schedule includes a lot of new and interesting performers including the Low Key Trio featuring bassist Rob Duguay.
However, January 26 did see Mother Nature blowing a mean wind on a storm titled Juno which closed down the city for the night – all public transit and Broadway theaters included.

February’s arrival was a little warmer and the month started off with another CD release party by the George Gee Swing Orchestra for their new album Swing Makes You Happy
The party was at Small’s and the band swings the most. They also ap-pear regularly at the club Swing 46 every Tuesday night where they have been in residency for many years. The Jazz Standard was the scene of a CD release party for Justin Kauflin, a blind piano prodigy whose new album was produced by Quincy Jones. Vocalist Judy Silvano’s CD release party for her newest offering My Dance was held at Kitano along with Mike Abene on the bandstand. Also at Kitano, West Coast bassist/vocalist/composer Katie Thiroux celebrated her debut recorded album with a release party.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola featured several great nights with saxophonist Victor Goines and Friends with special guest Joe Temperley on baritone sax. Both Goines and Temperley are members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Sounds of Brazil with noted Brazilian artist Mario Adnet were next on the club’s scheduled with three nights of joyous Brazilian music.
Music was everywhere for the evening of Valentine’s Day if you were brave enough to go out in the cold. (But then, you should have your “love to keep you warm”). Vocalists abounded for this holiday. Florida songbird Nicole Henry flew in to sing at the Blue Note, vocalist Greg-ory Porter was at Town Hall and vocalist Antoinette Montague was at Flushing Town Hall – these, in addition to acts at all of the jazz clubs in town.
Winter or not, jazz thrives– so stay warm and be cool!