Jazz in NYC: Eric Alexander Quartet at Smoke Jazz Club in July, 2017

Jazz in NYC: Eric Alexander Quartet at Smoke Jazz Club in July, 2017

Engaging mix of high energy performance, transcendent tones and vibrant rhythm section for a summer night out in the city

Jazz NYC Eric Alexander Quartet Smoke Club July 2017
Eric Alexander; photo by Jimmy Katz / image source ericalexanderjazz.com

Eric Alexander Quartet featuring a pianist David Hazeltine, an impressive rhythm section including a drummer Joe Farnsworth, a bassist Gerald Cannon and a percussionist Alex Diaz is performing at a cozy Smoke Jazz and Supper Club on Upper West side on June 30 – July 2, 2017.

The musicians’ mastery is obvious right from the start and is only getting better as the program moves alone. Light humor and joyful chit-chat of the instruments are the highlights of skillful improvisations on well-known tunes like “In the shadow of your smile” and “Impressions”. As the musicians move from one composition to the next, the music seems to never get old leaving the audience with cravings for more as the performance comes to an end. This almost guarantees that the listeners would likely want to come back as the short sets taste like delicious hors d’oeuvre rather than a complete jazz session entrée.  But of course there are CDs for sale for those eager to extend the joy and pleasures of the music.

Alexander came to NYC jazz scene some twenty plus years ago and had already recorded more than 35 albums as a lead and numerous features. He started playing tenor sax in late 80s when at Indiana University, Bloomington and the obsession with the instrument had defined his future career. In his biography he says that his music is still influenced by bebop pioneers. With placing second in 1991 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition playing against Joshua Redman and Chris Potter, Alexander’s professional career had begun. He is touring extensively with both of his quartet and his sextet One For All.  In a review for AllAboutJazz, Jack Bowers stresses that “Alexander is a tireless craftsman who loves to play”. This love shows at each of his performances.

Alexander will return to Smoke Jazz club later in July for a set of performances with his sextet One For All. For future performances and tickets click here.

Venue: Smoke Jazz and Supper Club, 2751 Broadway, NY     

Dates for Eric Alexander Quartet performances: June 30 – July 2, 2017

Dates for One For All performances: July 28 – 30, 2017

Art in NYC: Photography by Michel Houellebecq at VENUS Over Manhattan Gallery

Art in NYC: Photography by Michel Houellebecq at VENUS Over Manhattan Gallery

French Bashing: First New York exhibition of photographs, photomontages and more by French writer Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq
France #014, 2016; courtesy VENUS New York

Michel Houellebecq is undoubtedly the most talked about french writer. However his artistic oeuvre is not limited to a written word. He is also well known for his photography and film making. The exhibition of the photographs and photomontages at VENUS Manhattan gallery is the first such show for Houellebecq in the US.

The installation at VENUS under a title “French Bashing” is heavily influenced by the writer’s world view depicted in his novels. For VENUS the works were selected from the last year expose “Rester Vivant” at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Le Figaro review notes that “French Bashing” makes it a logical follow-up to “Rester Vivant”.

Art in NYC: Photography by Michel Houellebecq at VENUS Over Manhattan Galle
Michel Houellebecq
France #035, 2016; courtesy VENUS New York

The exhibition has 2 very distinct parts united by author’s sense of inescapable decline of european way of life and a drift towards banality and mass-commercialization. The expensive urban developments viewed via a prism of neglect and decay make moody and depressive impression. The most characteristic work is a picture of the EUROPE sign near Calais. The letters made in concrete have crumbled from the accelerated speed of changes. This could be the suggested theme for the first part of the exhibition. To compete an eerie impression it is installed in a dark-walled room with a soundtrack composed for the show in collaboration with Raphael Sohier.

The second room is too bright and too loud with kitschy images of the standard tourist attractions made for the unattached crowds. The lighting and the soundtrack are all coordinated to bring in a typical glitz of mass-entertainment.

Art in NYC: Photography by Michel Houellebecq at VENUS Over Manhattan Gallery
Michel Houellebecq
Espagne #008, 2016; courtesy VENUS New York

Overall the exhibition is very much in line with Houellebecq’s novels. In fact the author is known to look at his photographs when constructing the characters for his books. In an interview with L.Collins for The New Yorker, Houellebecq explains that he doesn’t “take pictures of human beings” preferring “literature for describing a human being”. And he doesn’t “do much description of the landscape” in his books, because he “finds that a photo is better.”

Now the public has a chance to see what the writer sees when working on his novels and make a better connection to his work.

 

 

Venue: 980 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10075                             Dates: June 2 – August 4, 2017

Beyond NY: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis at Bard in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Beyond NY: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis at Bard in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Summer Jazz Academy by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Beyond NY: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis, JLCO artistic director; image source: jazz.org

Internationally acclaimed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) with its artistic director Wynton Marsalis will appear in a special performance as part of its Summer Jazz Academy at Bard College. With education being at a core of the Jazz at Lincoln Center philosophy, the Academy program at Bard is marking its second year and is bringing the best high school jazz musicians for 2 week residential intensive in performance practice, aesthetics, culture and history of jazz among other subjects.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and its 15 world-class musicians is billed as the most versatile ensemble with vast musical repertoire starting from rare historical compositions all the way to american jazz staples. The orchestra is known to tour extensively collaborating with the top artists in such diverse genres as dance, folk, classical musicians and various guest soloists.

Beyond NY: Fischer Center at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Fischer Center; Photo: Peter Aaron ’68/Esto

The performance at Bard College is taking place at the time of Bard SummerScape with most events held at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Art located on a picturesque campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Bard College is well-known for its rigorous art education program and the best in class roster of summer performances in upstate NY. Only two hours away from hustle and bustle of New York City, the campus is sufficiently insulated for full concentration and study, yet affords a convenience of being accessible via train connection to the city.

The Richard B. Fisher Center is an architectural jewel in itself being designed by Frank Gehry and hosting a multitude of adventurous programs at the world-class facilities.

Book the tickets  here.

Venue: Olin Hall, Olin Humanities Building, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY       Date: July 29, 2017 

Places to eat around Bard College.