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New York City
I just copied and pasted a group e-mail that I sent to friends and family about my week in NYC and I thought some of you cats might be interested in reading it.
These group e-mails are so impersonal but it 's obviously the easiest way to do it. Anyway I hope all is well back in the motherland, you guys are in my thoughts.
My trip has been amazing so far but I'm definitly ready for some Thai style
R and R. I got into Bangkok yesterday and it's pretty full on. Hot as hell and real sticky. I met a swedish girl last night and we just hung out and drank beer until 6 in the morning in this beautiful park next to the river. It was pretty cool but my internal clock is all turned around as you can well expect. The plane left New York at 11 am and was 17 hours. The time difference between NY and Bangkok is 12 hours so you really can't get anymore turned around time change wise. When I think about it now, I guess when I got back to my hotel this morning it was really 6 in the evening for me and I only slept about 3 hours or so on the plane so needless to say I'm pretty fucked up! ( sorry Gramma, I know your going to read this!)
Right now it's about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon and I've got a ticket for the bus and boat to take me to a small island off the east (gulf) coast. It's another fourteen hour journey so I'll certainly be ready to chill when I get there. Massage parlors are everywhere and it's only about 6 bucks for an hour so I might treat myself when I arrive.
I can give you a journal of my next 6 weeks right now just to make it easy.
Snorkeling, suntanning, reading, drinking beer, fishing, playing music and all round just chillin', however, my week in NYC deserves a little greater detail.
I arrived at about 10:30 at night into JFK international which is in Queens. The subway doesn't go all the way out there so I had to take a bus to the station. When you get off the bus in Brooklyn to catch the subway, you are in the freakin' hood. I mean, all of the things you imagine about a NYC ghetto were right there. I felt like I was in an episode of Welcome back Kotter or something! I was happy to get to Toms place but in all honestly I didn't fear for my safety at all through the whole week. Just keep your head down and mind your own business and everybody else pretty much does the same.
It just so happened that on the same day I arrived Tom had 2 other friends arriving that same evening. The drummer Dan Gaucher from Tom's band and his girl Cat who is also a jazz musician. (Hey guys!) It actually worked out brilliantly. It ended up being a week long conversation about jazz slash slumber party, as their place is just a small 1 room studio.
Tom had stocked his fridge very kindly for our arrival with some 40 ouncers of Budweiser (sorry Vern!), so we just hung out and had a couple before retiring for the night.
We all took the subway into Manhattan early in the afternoon, it's about a half hour from Tom and Natalie's place in Brooklyn depending on your luck with the subway. We just walked around for a few hours and got a feel for the city. We walked up the east side of central park, parralel with park avenue, from 59th street to about 95th I think. That's where Natalie works, right by the park so thats where we left her as she had to work that evening.
The four of us decided to get a bite to eat and a beer so we went to a pub. Tom and I had a couple of hours to kill before our concert at Carnegie hall.
The concert was amazing, it was the St. Louis symphony doing Mozart and Mahler. It was so neat to be in that room knowing some of the great performers who have graced its stage. The hall itself is not spectacular and I was surprised to see its only about 2 thirds the size of the Orpheum and not nearly as ornate. Just a a totally different style but grand and beautiful none the less.
After the show we decided to do some jazz club hopping in Greenwich Village. The energy in this part of NY is palpable. We went to the Fat Cat first and saw this guitar player chick who was good but not spectacular. In her trio was the drummer from Metalwood, Ian Froman and the organ player Gary Versace whom I had just seen with John Scofield at the Commodore last month. The place was tiny and felt like somebody's unfinished basement with a piecemeal assortment of garage sale chairs and couches. Pretty cool.
From there we went to Small's for a jam session that to be honest was pretty lame. By the time we left there it was about 3:30 so we decided to head for home but not before stoppin' in for the end of the last set at the Bluenote. Things were wrapping up there so there was nobody working the door and we just slipped right in. The band was grooving hard, its ashame we just caught the tail end. The guy playing bass was the guitar player from Soulive and we chatted with him briefly after the show. It was about 5 am when we got home so needless to say it was straight to bed. The subway runs 24 hours which is very convienent.
I ventured into Manhattan on my own that day and did the tourist thing. Rockeffeler Centre, Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall and that kind of garbage. Every time you turn a corner there is something special and or famous. New York City is truly a miracle in many different ways. If I ever win the lottery my first move would be to buy an apartment in the Village. I would love to live in this city sometime but rents are astronomical even in Brooklyn.
One of the highlights of that day, if you can call it that, and of the whole week really was hanging out in front of the Dakota Building where John Lennon lived and was killed. I have chills right now thinking about that special vibe there. I spent about a half an hour on the sidewalk where he was shot and I probably saw a hundred people come by and just remember the man and his music.
Couples hugging, parents with there small children and a lot of people with welled up eyes. Right across from the Dakota is a section of Central Park called Strawberry fields with a small memorial. There were about 25 people just hanging out, remembering and singing. Three guitar players, who probably go there every day were singing Lennon songs. To think this was just another Sunday evening and all of these people were coming by to remember a man who died 25 years ago. It was very special.
From there I took a stroll down 52nd street between 5th and 6th Ave. This is where it all went down in the forties and fifties. None of the buildings that housed the jazz clubs are remaining, it's all high rise hotels now but it was still neat to walk in the footsteps of all of the great jazz legends who played there.
From there it was off to Madison Square Gardens to see the Rangers and Bruins. Rangers 3 Boston 2. It was an awesome game and the home town fans went home happy. I didn't cheer for either team if your wondering. (True Canucks fan!!) Seeing the 1994 Stanley Cup banner hanging from the rafters sucked.
After the game I decided to head down to the Village Vanguard to see if I could get lucky on the last set of alto sax legend Lou Donaldson. I did. The experience of being in that small basement club is beyond words. It's the greatest jazz club in the world and some of the musics most important recordings were made there. Coltrane, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, all the greats have played this tiny club and you can feel the history. The good Dr. Lonnie Smith was on organ and when I told him after the set that I was from Vancouver I thought he was going to take me home with him! "I want to move there" he said, "It's my favorite city."
After the show it was straight back to mutha fuckin' Brooklyn on the subway.
That was a great day.
Day four was jazz history day. Before I left Vancouver I put a map together of a number of historic jazz sites, so Dan, Cat and I went up to Harlem and did a little self guided walking tour. The original site of the Savoy Ballroom and the Cotton Club. We went to the stoop where in 1958 dozens of jazz musicians gathered for the famous "Great day in Harlem" photograph. And probably the coolest place, Minton's Playhouse, the birthplace of modern jazz. The building has been empty for decades but the original sign still hangs out front. That was sweet.
As you can probably imagine we were getting pretty worn out and the three of us headed for the subway, Brooklyn bound
The bulk of day five was spent in the Metropolitan Museum. You could really spend a week there so I just picked a couple of sections and focused on those.
Then it was time to hook up with Tom for another big night out in the Village.
This time it was back to the Vanguard for what was probably the most anticipated show of my trip, both sets on the opening night of the new Brad Mehldau Trio's week long run. That was sweet. I mean real sweet. That band is a miracle and Tom and I were both blown away. We expected nothing less and they didn't disapoint.
After that we cruised around the corner to the 55 bar to catch the last set of alto sax man David Binney's band with Adam Rogers on guitar. Another sweet show, and after it was over Tom said don't look now but Chris Potter just sat down at the bar. We had a brief chat with him on our way out, that was cool, he's one of my saxophone heros and a nice guy to boot!
After some falafel we were Brooklyn bound once again. Another great day.
This was our guys day out, and we got it started with a couple of forty ouncers of beer for breakfast before we left. Then Dan, Tom and myself headed to Manhattans chinatown to see what kind of trouble we could get in. As it turned out, not much, but we had a great day. Again, another endless conversation about music.
We headed back to Brooklyn after some dinner and Dan met up with Cat and cruised back to Manhattan to see the Maria Shneider Big Band. I would have liked to have joined them but I kind of felt a bit concerted out and it was quite pricey as well.
This was my last night in the city and I had not yet seen one of the sights on the top of my list so I headed back into Manhattan at about midnight to see the Charlie Parker brownstone at 151 Avenue b. Bird lived hear from 1950 to 1954 and its now been declared a national historic sight. It was pretty cool just hangin' on the stoop for a while thinking about all the great musicians who had sat there in the past. I had a 17 hour flight ahead of me the next morning so I didn't want to go to bed early in hopes of being tired enough to sleep for the bulk of my journey on the plane. No such luck, I guess I was just too excited.
This is more than I was probably planning to write so if you've gotten this far you should be commended! I will send another dispatch from Ko Phan Ngan when I feel I've got enough to tell but that might not be for quite a while, I'm planning to move pretty slowly over there!
Love You Guys,
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