Katherine Jenkins at the Café Carlyle

2016_04_12_Carlyle_03Photo: David Andrako

When you visit the Café Carlyle, just off the lobby of the historic Carlyle Hotel on Madison and 76th Street, you know you aren't just seeing any old cabaret show. The minute you're escorted to your seat underneath the famous murals by Marcel Vertès, you can feel the ghosts of Bobby Short, Eartha Kitt, Elaine Stritch and other legendary performers - both real and imagined - who've filled this surprisingly intimate room with song and laughter since 1955.

Last night, I paid my first-ever visit to the Café Carlyle. My guest and I was seated at a table right behind the piano, where we enjoyed a much-better-than-necessary three course meal, complete with wine. (Disclosure: both dinner and the show were compliments of the house.) A few minutes before showtime, the evening's accompanist, Jerry Steichen, took his seat at the piano and immediately struck up a conversation, no doubt intended to relax us both. "Let me know if either of you want to come up here and take a turn," he said with a devilish laugh.

"Only if you want to hear chopsticks," I replied.

"I don't think that's on the set list tonight." 

The evening's actual entertainment was provided by the Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, who weaved her way to the stage through the tight rows of tables in a royal blue gown, careful not to catch her long, flowing trail. Jenkins, whose career has been spent mostly singing at soccer stadiums and arenas with the likes of Andrea Bocelli and David Foster, seemed right at home. And, with good reason: she told the audience she met her husband Andrew Levitas here on a blind date in 2013.

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Lesley Flanigan presents Hedera at National Sawdust

by Robert Leeper

The pursuit of sonic bliss has driven Lesley Flanigan to be a ceaseless experimenter. Her background in sculpture is often referenced in the way she seems to give a physical form to sounds which she then shapes and bends to her will. So what is she up to now? A new experiment, naturally. 

The release concert for her most recent album, Hedera (out this Thursday on Physical Editions ), at National Sawdust last Friday was compelling both both aurally and visually. As it goes for almost twenty minutes, the work explores dislocation in a variety of forms - the artistic space between journey and destination or perhaps purpose and perception. As with her previous work shaping the sonic world of speaker feedback, Hedera takes otherwise unremarkable moments and expands and amplifies them to a point where they become not only apparent but undeniable.

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Charlie Parker's Yardbird at the Apollo Theater

by Steven Pisano

Charlie Parker's Yardbird at the Apollo Theater(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

Saxophonist Charlie Parker was one of the seminal jazz musicians of the twentieth century, whose fast and furious improvisational style was the source of bebop, one of the defining styles of the 1940s and 1950s. Like the blues great Robert Johnson before him, Charlie Parker's tragic early death at the age of 34 from a heart attack--almost certainly hastened by years of heroin addiction--sealed his legend as a musician who utterly changed music, and whose influence still lingers into today.

The new opera Charlie Parker's Yardbird, created in cooperation between Opera Philadelphia and the late, lamented Gotham Chamber Opera, imagines Charlie Parker after he has died but before he has passed on into jazz heaven. (The production closes tomorrow at the Apollo Theater.) Audience members take their seats before an onstage cadaver lying under a sheet, its feet boldly sticking out. 

Composer Daniel Schnyder and librettist Bridgette A. Wimberly have written a strong work, which possibly might have been even stronger if it was about an lesser-known musician. Because Charlie Parker is such an outsized figure in jazz history, and because he died with so much of his enormous talent unfulfilled, there is a natural curiosity to know more about this musical genius. But the pieces of the story we see on stage are sketchy, and while occasionally interesting, don't really give us deeper insights into the man or his music.

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TICKET GIVEAWAY: Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall

Susan Graham
Next Thursday, April 7th, the Orchestra of St. Luke's brings an evening of music spanning over 250 years of English music to Carnegie Hall. The evening includes Purcell's devastating "Dido’s Lament" from his opera Dido and Aeneas (featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham), a pair of Haydn symphonies including Symphony No. 98, and Britten's setting of a text drawn from Robert Lowell’s verse translation of Racine’s Phaedra (also featuring Graham). 

The Orchestra of St. Luke's is one of the finest and most beloved chamber orchestras in the city, and Feast of Music has five pairs of free tickets to give away to net week's concert. Here's how to get them:

1. Email robert@feastofmusic.com    -OR-

2. Tweet #FreeTickets #OSL to @feastofmusic    -OR-

3. Head to our Facebook page and COMMENT on our giveaway post! Note: "Likes" on their own will not be considered valid entries.

Good luck!