Recommended Jazz Music: BIRDLAND JAZZ CLUB AND THEATER (December 6-18, 2022)

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by Tony Frankel on December 5, 2022

in Music,Theater-International,Theater-New York

WHERE THE RHYTHM SWOOPS AND SWIRLS,
THIS IS THE JAZZ CORNER OF THE WORLD

Last Friday, I caught The Birdland Big Band at Birdland Jazz Club on 44th near Times Square. This sophisticated, intimate club was packed to the rafters for this 16-piece jazz orchestra which jazzed up our holidays with both hot and sweet tunes, aided by the incredible vocalist Nicole Zuraitis. Created by Tommy Igoe in 2006, I now see why it has become the most popular weekly musical residency in New York City. Their next gig is Friday, December 9 at 5pm.

It amazes me how many of my NY friends haven’t been to Birdland (I’m an L.A. boy and have been there more than they). It’s a must-visit for tourists and New Yorkers alike. There are two rooms: The one on top, the club, has the audience curved around the musical acts, sitting at classy tables. The food is astounding and, considering you are in a club, quite affordable. Downstairs at Birdland Theater, where the same fare is available, you will see the bigger bands — the powerful intimacy of both spaces is something to behold. Plus, four tickets and food are less than one ticket for many of the orchestra seats at a Broadway show.

Here is the upcoming schedule for December 6-18, 2022.

December 6 (Tuesday) 5:30 PM – Birdland TheaterJay Leonhart DuoBassist, singer and songwriter Jay Leonhart is both a veteran instrumentalist and an inspiring, storied vocal performer. With decades of accomplishments on his musical resume just as a bassist—including acts so varied as Tony Bennett, Ozzy Osbourne, James Taylor, Thad Jones, and Queen Latifah—Leonhart surprises many a musician with his disarming vocals and his smart, often humorous original songs, which he has recorded to critical acclaim since 1983’s Salamander Pie. An uncanny artist who has recorded nearly 20 records as a leader and appeared on some 250 as a sideman, Leonhart was named The Most Valuable Bassist in the recording industry three times by the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences between 1975 and 1995. He is sure to move and entertain his audience—this time with an intimate duo project.$30 tables / $20 bar $20 food/drink minimum

December 6 (Tuesday) 7:00 & 9:30 PM – Birdland Jazz ClubDave Stryker Organ Trio“One of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years,” states Village Voice, and “one of the most joyous feels around,” according to Pat Metheny. Dave Stryker is a fabulous guitarist who has served as the featured accompanist for Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, and hundreds of others, as well as leading 30 recording projects of his own. On his latest recording, As We Are, “the jazz gods have alighted on the guitarist and elevated his playing, his composing, his soloing, and his music,” says Jazz Times’s Ken Micallef. And for this engagement at Birdland, he brings his ultra-swinging organ trio, fresh from their Summer tour opening for Steely Dan, and delivering gritty, soulful sounds for modern ears.$30 tables / $30 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 6 (Tuesday) 8:30 PM – Birdland TheaterVince Giordano & The NighthawksCatch Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks at their 7-week Tuesday night residency at the Birdland Theater. Giordano, the recipient of a GRAMMY Award for his work scoring the HBO show Boardwalk Empire, is a master composer and arranger whose 11-piece band, The Nighthawks, recreate the jubilant 1920s jazz sound with amazing definition, using violins, tubas, banjos, and collector’s item drum sets. The band has provided soundtracks for film and television productions including The Cotton Club, The Aviator, Finding Forrester, Revolutionary Road, Cafe Society, Boardwalk Empire, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and many more. Not to be missed!$30 tables / $20 bar $20 food/drink minimum

December 7 (Wednesday) 5:30 PM – Birdland TheaterDavid Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity BandInspired by the noble jazz pioneers Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and their colleagues, David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band breathes life and passion into America’s own great art form. Now in its 18th year of residency at Birdland, the weekly post-workday engagement is the city’s best musical bargain! Tuba player David Ostwald leads a rotating lineup that features talents such as clarinetist Anat Cohen, trombonist/vocalist Wycliffe Gordon, pianist Ehud Asherie, drummer Marion Felder and more!$30 tables; $20 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 7-10 (Wednesday-Saturday) 7:00 & 9:30 PM (12/7-8); 8:30 & 10:30 PM (12/9-10) – Birdland Jazz Club / Livestream Event, Thursday, December 8 at 9:30 via FlyMachine Kurt Elling Holiday ShowPresenting a show of holiday standards with his quartet, Kurt Elling returns to Birdland for the second time this month, one week after his string of duets with piano great Danilo Perez. Elling, the winner of 3 Prix du Jazz Vocal (France), 2 German Echo Awards, 2 Dutch Edison Awards, and 2 GRAMMY wins (with 15 GRAMMY nominations), is one of contemporary jazz’s most prolific, celebrated voices. The Guardian has called him “a kind of Sinatra with superpowers” and “one of jazz’s all-time great vocalists.” Elling’s originality is intertwined with his devotion to the masters that came before him, and he regularly writes lyrics to classic melodies and improvisations by iconic artists, such as John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, and Jaco Pastorius. Join the singer and his group for an inspiring week of holiday classics.$45 tables / $35 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 7 (Wednesday) 8:30 PM – Birdland Theater Frank Vignola’s Guitar Night: “Sadowsky Players Night” featuring Lolivone De La RosaIt’s the best jazz guitar lover’s show in the world. Frank Vignola’s virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world’s top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Les Paul, the Boston and New York Pops, and more. Every Wednesday at 8:30pm in the Birdland Theater, Frank leads “Frank Vignola’s Guitar Night at Birdland.” Inspired by journeyman jazz guitarist John Pisano’s now famous Los Angeles Guitar Night, the Frank Vignola Trio, featuring bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and drummer Vince Cherico, will perform tunes from the standard repertoire, inviting up a rotation of special guests. This week its the creative guitarist Lolivone De La Rosa.$30 tables; $20 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 8 (Thursday) 8:30 PM – Birdland TheaterLaszlo Gardony Trio Release CelebrationPianist Laszlo Gardony’s new recording, Close Connection (Sunnyside), is a unique hybrid, blending his Central European folk roots with his devotion to jazz standards and his love for 70s prog-rock. Self-described as “Bartok meets Monk and King Crimson,” this hard-hitting trio of John Lockwood (bass) and Yoron Israel (drums) is sure to wow audiences. Called “a formidable improviser who lives in the moment” by JazzTimes, Gardony is a long-time member of the Boston veteran in-crowd. His association with such profound musicians as drummer Rakalam Bob Moses, bass legend Dave Holland, bass icon Miroslav Vitous, guitarist Mick Goodrick, and other heavies have marked his star-studded career. He teaches piano at Berklee College of Music and instructs the jazz band at Harvard University.$30 tables / $20 bar $20 food/drink minimum

December 9 (Friday) 5:00 PM – Birdland Jazz ClubThe Birdland Big BandEvery Friday, and for two headlining weeks a year, the “BBB” roars into action playing a thrilling and original mix of jazz, funk, Brazilian, Latin and world music for sold-out audiences. Featured weekly guest artists drop in from television bands (David Letterman, Saturday Night Live) and pop music touring bands (Rob Thomas, Rod Stewart). Come see for yourself why Time Out New York called the BBB “A completely unique experience… there isn’t another band like this anywhere,” and why yelp.com proclaims, “If you hear one band in NYC make sure this is it… and prepare to be blown away!”$30 + $20 food/drink minimum

December 11 (Sunday) 5:30 PM – Birdland Jazz ClubNew York Youth Symphony Jazz BandPerforming Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn’s famed jazz adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, the official jazz ensemble of the famed NY Youth Symphony program is a large ensemble featuring New York’s leading young voices. Under the direction of Juilliard-trained trombonist and composer Andy Clausen (co-founder of the popular brass ensemble The Westerlies), these young talents regularly perform classic material of the 1930s and 40s, offering special performances in the New York area and abroad. They have appeared at venues such Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room and even embarked on a 2016 tour of Brazil under the direction of trumpeter Matt Holman. Regularly mentored by the legends of jazz music, these young folks are keeping the torch aflame. For this special holiday-themed evening, they will perform the Ellington/Strayhorn classic in its entirety, including memorable works such as “Toot Toot Tootie Toot,” “Peanut Brittle Brigade,” and “Sugar Rum Fairy.” Don’t miss this wonderful evening with the next generation of jazz talent!$30 tables / $30 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 11 (Sunday) 8:30 & 10:30 PM – Birdland Jazz ClubArturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz OrchestraPianist, composer and educator Arturo O’Farrill—leader of the “first family of Afro-Cuban Jazz” (The New York Times)—leads the GRAMMY® award winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO), who bring together the drama of big band jazz, the culture of Latin music, and the virtuosity of eighteen of the world’s most accomplished solo musicians. Twelve years of critically-acclaimed performances internationally have firmly established the ALJO as the standard-bearer for creative interpretation of Latin jazz greats such as Tito Puente, Frank “Machito” Grillo, and Chico O’Farrill, as well as the driving force behind new commissions from Latin music’s most talented composers and arrangers.$30 + $20 food/drink minimum

December 13-17 (Tuesday-Saturday) 7:00 & 9:30 PM (12/13-15); 8:30 & 10:30 PM (12/16-17) – Birdland Jazz ClubStacey KentA singer of marvelous talent, Stacey Kent’s beautiful voice and natural musicality have been the feature of 11 studio albums, including Platinum, Double-Gold and Gold records that have garnered her a much-deserved worldwide audience. With performances in over 55 countries during her stellar career, Kent’s global fandom makes perfect sense because of her miraculous fluency singing in French, Italian, German, Portuguese and English. Over the course of two decades as a recording artist, Kent’s vision has broadened beyond the Great American Songbook: French and Brazilian classics also feature prominently in her contemporary work. Her latest album, Songs From Other Places, was released September of 2021For this special week at Birdland, Kent is backed by her normal group of veteran collaborators. Her new studio album, Summer Me, Winter Me, is set for 2023 release.$40 tables / $30 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 13 (Tuesday) 8:30 PM – Birdland TheaterVince Giordano & The NighthawksCatch Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks at their 7-week Tuesday night residency at the Birdland Theater. Giordano, the recipient of a GRAMMY Award for his work scoring the HBO show Boardwalk Empire, is a master composer and arranger whose 11-piece band, The Nighthawks, recreate the jubilant 1920s jazz sound with amazing definition, using violins, tubas, banjos, and collector’s item drum sets. The band has provided soundtracks for film and television productions including The Cotton Club, The Aviator, Finding Forrester, Revolutionary Road, Cafe Society, Boardwalk Empire, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and many more. Not to be missed!$30 tables / $20 bar $20 food/drink minimum

December 14 (Wednesday) 5:30 PM – Birdland TheaterDavid Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity BandInspired by the noble jazz pioneers Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and their colleagues, David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band breathes life and passion into America’s own great art form. Now in its 18th year of residency at Birdland, the weekly post-workday engagement is the city’s best musical bargain! Tuba player David Ostwald leads a rotating lineup that features talents such as clarinetist Anat Cohen, trombonist/vocalist Wycliffe Gordon, pianist Ehud Asherie, drummer Marion Felder and more!$30 tables; $20 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 14 (Wednesday) 8:30 PM – Birdland TheaterFrank Vignola’s Guitar Night in the Theater with guest Harry AllenIt’s the best jazz guitar lover’s show in the world. Frank Vignola’s virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world’s top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Les Paul, the Boston and New York Pops, and more. Every Wednesday at 8:30pm in the Birdland Theater, Frank leads “Frank Vignola’s Guitar Night at Birdland.” Inspired by journeyman jazz guitarist John Pisano’s now famous Los Angeles Guitar Night, the Frank Vignola Trio, featuring bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and drummer Vince Cherico, will perform tunes from the standard repertoire, inviting up a rotation of special guests. This week, it’s Harry Allen.$30 tables; $20 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 15 (Thursday) 8:30 PM – Birdland TheaterDave PietroOne of the foremost saxophonists in the jazz world for the past several decades, Dave Pietro is renowned for his writing, arranging, bandleading, soloing, and large ensemble work. His membership over the years in the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, and Toshiko Akiyoshi’s Orchestra belies his affinity for imaginative, fulfilling composition and robust improvisation. Pietro’s own projects have included a who’s who of contemporary jazz stardom since his recording career began in 1994 with Forgotten Dreams, an album featuring Dave Holland, Bill Stewart, Kenny Werner and Ben Monder. Over the next nearly three decades on the international jazz scene, Pietro established himself with scores of recording credits on projects by artists such as David Bowie, Maynard Ferguson, and Chaka Khan. He continues to write and record original work, his latest effort being 2020’s HyperSphere, released on Artist Share.  $30 tables / $20 bar $20 food/drink minimum

December 16 (Friday) 5:00 PM – Birdland Jazz ClubThe Birdland Big BandEvery Friday, and for two headlining weeks a year, the “BBB” roars into action playing a thrilling and original mix of jazz, funk, Brazilian, Latin and world music for sold-out audiences. Featured weekly guest artists drop in from television bands (David Letterman, Saturday Night Live) and pop music touring bands (Rob Thomas, Rod Stewart). Come see for yourself why Time Out New York called the BBB “A completely unique experience… there isn’t another band like this anywhere,” and why yelp.com proclaims, “If you hear one band in NYC make sure this is it… and prepare to be blown away!”$30 + $20 food/drink minimum

December 18 (Sunday) 5:30 PM – Birdland Jazz ClubNew York Holidays with Svetlana’s Big Band!Svetlana’s Big Band combines the classic big band sound, thrilling arrangements by the best NYC big band arrangers, and Svetlana’s own captivating front woman stage presence and vocals—at once “lush” (NY Music Daily) and “energetic” (Wall Street Journal). The band reflects the idealism of the vintage swing band sound while offering a thrilling experience for jazz lovers and 21st century modern audiences alike, and for this special evening, Svetlana has prepared a heartwarming set of her favorite songs for the holidays. The band is co-directed by Emily Fredrickson (Dee Dee Bridgewater Big Band) and includes NYC top talent, including Jason Marshall, Nicole Glover, Willerm Delisfort, Curtis Nowosad, Wayne Tucker, Anthony Hervey, and more. So “prepare to swing and be moved!” (JazzLives) and experience the “sweet and naughty” (JazzLives) magic in this special New York Holidays show celebrating the things that bring us together—even when it’s cold outside!$30 tables / $30 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

December 18 (Sunday) 8:30 & 10:30 PM – Birdland Jazz ClubArturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz OrchestraPianist, composer and educator Arturo O’Farrill—leader of the “first family of Afro-Cuban Jazz” (The New York Times)—leads the GRAMMY® award winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO), who bring together the drama of big band jazz, the culture of Latin music, and the virtuosity of eighteen of the world’s most accomplished solo musicians. Twelve years of critically-acclaimed performances internationally have firmly established the ALJO as the standard-bearer for creative interpretation of Latin jazz greats such as Tito Puente, Frank “Machito” Grillo, and Chico O’Farrill, as well as the driving force behind new commissions from Latin music’s most talented composers and arrangers. $30 + $20 food/drink minimum

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