A lot of jazz joints are “dives” — in basements — but since Hurricane Sandy it’s not flood waters keeping cellars like the Village Vanguard, the Jazz Standard, Fat Cat, 55 Bar (Sat: open with candlelight), Cornelia Street Café and Smalls closed. There’s simply no electricity.
So they, like every other music venue below 26th St. (including the Blue Note, which hopes to be back Saturday, with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke; Village Bistro, Arthur’s Tavern, the Metropolitan Room, the Jazz Gallery, Jazz at Kitano — which is on Park Ave. at 38th St., but the phone is off the hook — the Stone, Zinc Bar, Bar on Fifth) are dark. And Con Ed won’t predict when the lights will go on. Downtown Music Gallery, the important record store in a cellar in Chinatown, is “bone dry,” according to an employee, but expects no restoration of power for five to ten days. (Open as of Sat. noon! Free performances of Brit guitarist Philip Gibbs scheduled for 6 pm and and 7 pm Sunday.)
Of course it’s an incomparably greater disaster for the estimated 20,000 residents of Hoboken, across the Hudson River, who’ve been stranded in their apartments without power for four days and counting. It’s even worse for folks all over the East Coast who’ve lost homes to the storm and (it doesn’t go without saying) for those injured, fatally or not, and their families.
But jazz in NYC has served as a healing force after catastrophes such as the 9/11 attacks. Back then musicians performed with something approaching a holy imperative to summon and soothe a community, though the Twin Towers smouldered. (The JJA ran a post-9/11 panel discussion at the New School Jazz performance space on the jazz response, which I moderated with panelists including author Ira Gitler, pianist Vijay Iyer, professor Farah Griffin, journalist Larry Blumenfeld and ECM publicist Tina Pelikan– a transcript is archived.)
For those who need their music fix, the show does go on. Jazz at Lincoln Center, on the 5th floor of the Time Warner building at 60th St. and Broadway, is operational, with Dizzy’s Club featuring trombonist Wycliff Gordon “and friends”; alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition with guitarist Rez Abassi and percussionist Dan Weiss is at Miller Theater (Columbia U. campus). Jane Moneheit is at the 92nd St. Y, with guest fiddler Mark O’Connor. Birdland, in midtown, has Lee Konitz Quartet and on Sunday Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra; Iridium in midtown re-starts Nov. 2 with blue-eyed soul singer Robbie Dupree. Smoke, at 106th and Broadway, has keyboardist Orran Evans Quintet with trumpeter Jack Walrath and tenor saxist Joel Frahm, and Cleopatra’s Needle between 92 and 93rd and B’way goes ahead with its scheduled performers, including Lou Donaldson’s drummer Fukushi Tainaka leading a quartet on Saturday.
In Brooklyn, Barbés has gone ethno-world-folky (but has Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, a vibes-led quartet Sat. night). Puppet’s, which had a long run in Park Slope, has closed and that’s really too bad. Zebulon has guitarists Nels Cline and Elliot Sharp dueting tonight (Thurs. Nov 1), then a sequence of acts I’ve never heard of. The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music has an all-star Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open concert Saturday, Nov. 3. Sistah’s Place has cancelled programs due to Sandy, as has Issue Project Room, but Roulette (with an intriguing “Cage and Kubera” concert Sunday at 5 pm — Roscoe Mitchell premieres a soprano sax solo piece)g, I-Beam and Douglas Street Collective are sticking to plans. The decentralization of Manhattan’s new music scene, stimulated by high real estate values, has advantages, after all.
This week it will be hard to get into Manhattan if you’re not there already. Busses are available (reportedly, SRO) to cross the bridges from the outer boroughs, where some subway lines are running, as are Manhattan’s subways north of 34th St. But most venues are in the blackout zone, further downtown.
Con Ed is under considerable pressure to get the grid back online. May the re-opening of clubs begin this weekend. Let the sounds be celebratory, as the storm has passed.