Jazz at Lincoln Center. It’s something that we see signs for everyday (our office is less than five blocks away), but neither of us have ever taken advantage of the amazing programs they offer. Thankfully, that was about to change. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola was sponsoring a special event, Mentoring Through the Art of Music with Dion Parson, honoring young jazz musicians from the Virgin Islands . First, Dizzy’s – it’s located at Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Center and it is the PERFECT date spot. (Unfortunately for us, we were less inclined to get romantic and more inclined to get good photos.) Sporting a corner view of Central Park, a long bar, and only about 20 tables, this intimate yet classy setting served great food and drinks in addition to the great music.
The evening’s program highlighted three young performers all currently attending college, and all looking to make their mark on the jazz scene. Kai Richardson played the trumpet, Jonte Samuels played the saxophone and Tabari Lake played the bass. The evening started off with a few great jazz standards with the entire student ensemble plus Dion on the drums and an additional piano player. Together, the band played “Are You Real” by Benny Golson and “Sunday” by Ned Miller, Chester Cohn, Jule Styne and Bennie Krueger. The evening then started to highlight the individual students and their instruments with solo student performances of “Ruby, My Dear” by Thelonious Monk (saxophone feature), “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” by Jimmy McHugh (bass cello feature) and “My Little Suede Shoes,” by Charlie Parker (trumpet feature). Our favorite highlight of the evening was Tabari’s performance. He plays with his eyes shut, body swaying and so much passion – he literally looks like he’s making love to the bass while he’s playing – and it’s, quite frankly, adorable.
Throughout the evening, Dion brought out friends, colleagues from his 21st Century Band, and new instruments to jam with the students. Steel drums were added to Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” and current SNL musician, Ron Blake, performed John Coltrane’s “Straight Street” with the students. It was a great evening and an inspiring session to see such young artists breathing new life into jazz. Each student was excellent and you could really see how proud Dion was of his fellow young countrymen.
Alicia’s Takeaway: as you know, we are obsessed with drummers and Dion Parson’s drumming was some of the best I’ve seen to date. Something was off about the piano player – either the piano was out of tune, or he missed some notes, but random cringe-worthy sounds would come out that I know weren’t supposed to be there.
RCS Takeaway: I love genuine, sincere, honest music loving folks…and these guys were just that. The entire night Alicia and I kept looking at each other shaking our heads at how perfect the night was. Favorite song of the evening was “Sunday”. In my notes I wrote: KILLING MY SPIRIT IM EMOTIONAL. It reminded me of Christmas, had a lot of drum solos and really spoke to me. Beautiful night.