Marla’s Report: Minton’s and More

I’ve been working on a write-up about the Jazz Cruise, my own ship’s log of sorts, but I can’t seem to get it finished and in good enough shape to post for you. Soon, I promise. Meanwhile, I am noticing that my blogosphere buddies sometimes get a little help from their friends and post items sent in to them by others. My friend Marla sent me a mini-pictorial of her visit to Minton’s and gave me permission to post it. Marla’s pilgrimage to Minton’s was made just a week or so ago when she was in New York with Rebecca Parris who was appearing at Birdland.

One of the highlights of my trip to NY was going to Minton’s Playhouse. I’ve always wanted to go there and finally followed through this past Saturday. So, here’s Marla trying to imagine what Monk and Horace Silver saw when they were sitting at the piano:

Here’s a much better, full view of the mural:


A picture I took from the bandstand looking out into the audience (though the club was empty, as it was about 4 p.m.):


The bar was on the opposite wall prior to the 1974 closing.

Those of you who know Marla will nod in accordance when I say that having Marla for a friend is kinda like having your own personal year-round Santa Claus because whenever she sees something that she knows her friends will enjoy, she shares it with them. And that’s often, so the presents keep coming all year long. Another thing I love about Marla is that she never seems jaded – she knows lots of people, she’s been lots of places and had many experiences, but everything seems new and cool through her eyes.

By the way, Rebecca got a fabulous New York Times review (it’s about time the media powers that be gave her her due! thank you Stephen Holden) – so New Yorkers keep your eyes and ears open next year as it’s a good bet that she’ll be invited back. Marla also reported that Rebecca will soon be a guest on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz and that Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater will be broadcasting Rebecca’s show recorded live at the Marblehead Jazz Fest this past summer. I love it when good things happen for good people!

If by chance you just arrived on planet jazz and are not familiar with Rebecca’s singing, check out this and this and this.

ADDENDUM — Marla just sent me two more pix :

Here’s a picture of the famous Hotel Cecil. You know that Minton’s is to the left of the main entrance to the Hotel Cecil, yes? Apparently, it was an actual dining room when the Cecil was still a hotel and Henry Minton started to use it as a jazz room. Now, the Cecil is a renovated single room occupancy residence. Both Minton’s Playhouse and the Hotel Cecil are official National Landmarks and will be there for a long time! I wanted to get the 118th and St. Nicholas sign in, too:


And one last pic of the bandstand/mural from the audience (I think I was standing close to or against the left wall):


Tenor and Brass on TV

On Sunday, November 11, 2007 beginning at 8:00 p.m. Public Television will air The USAF 60th Anniversary: A Musical Celebration featuring The United States Air Force Band with special guests “The Tenors – Cook, Dixon, & Young” and “Empire Brass”. The brass quintet is noted for presenting works from Bach and Handel to jazz and Broadway. Similarly, the tenors are well versed in both the European and American musical traditions, so it’s no surprise that the broadcast will include American classics such as American Salute, Ain’t Misbehavin’, America the Beautiful, and a rousing full-cast finale of God Bless America.

I’m not familiar with the brass players but have read that all five have held leading positions with major American orchestras and that the ensemble plays over 100 concerts a year in major cities throughout the world. I am more familiar with the tenors. Victor Trent Cook received a Tony Award nomination for “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” Rodrick Dixon has been a featured performer in several roles with the Los Angeles and Michigan Opera companies, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and in Broadway’s “Ragtime.” Grammy Award-winning vocalist Thomas Young has appeared as a soloist in major concert halls around the world; he’s also created operatic roles for contemporary composers like John Adams and Anthony Davis. Their talents encompass jazz and blues (here’s a video clip) as well as the classics (here’s a video clip of Roderick)

I know of Cook, Dixon, and Young as “Three Mo’ Tenors,” so I wondered why the billing changed to read “The Tenors.” In an online Variety article published 9/27/07 I learned that

“The “Three Mo'” franchise was started by [Director Marion J.] Caffey with singers Victor Trent Cook, Rodrick Dixon and Thomas Young in the title roles. Producer Willette Murphy Klausner soon joined up, and the group received much exposure courtesy of a 2001 PBS showing. Performers and management thereafter split acrimoniously, leaving Klausner and Caffey with rights to the title; Cook, Dixon and Young still perform together in the three tenor format, presumably with more star power than any of the six tenors alternating at the Little Shubert.”

I have never been in favor of spin-offs, musical franchises and/or ghost bands, and while I’m sure that all of the tenors currently performing on Broadway and elsewhere as “Three Mo'” are very talented, I’ll stick with the originals of whom I’ve been fond ever since their debut in the summer of 2000.

Of course I also love the original originals – Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras – The Three Tenors with three capital Ts. Ay, Ay, Ay.