Monday, June 04, 2007


18 months down the line and I feel I am really getting to grips with the jazz scene here.
It’s not simply a case of knowing who plays or sings with whom, how good they are and what they sound like. To me it is also just as important to know, for instance, that Robert Glasper drinks vodka and cranberry juice and nods on the offbeat, whereas Derrick Hodge nods on the beat. It is important to know who brings their own piano stool or mic to a gig, which make of piano or bass amp they prefer, whether they’re a left or right-handed drummer and what their preferred stage layout is, whether they’re vegetarian, vegan or carnivores. Because those details are what make a promoter a really good promoter. I have been watching, listening and learning, and finally I am feeling the beginnings of a reassuring familiarity here.

And a word on my new favourite venue - the Highline Ballroom. It's only been open for just over a month, but despite a few teething problems (very few in fact, considering, such as the kitchen not being quite operational yet), it already seems to be selling-out a large number of shows (not bad for a 700 capacity venue), and has found a niche that no other venue in New York seems to be covering. If the TH and I were to come up with a list of all the bands we'd like to see live, they are already on, or doubtless soon will be on the Highline's programme. This is even more interesting considering our tastes, which despite crossing over to some degree, are still fairly different. We have been to 6 or 7 gigs there already and have a whole lot more booked. In fact, between us, we ARE the target audience, clearly. There is no other venue I can think of with a programme covering everything from Amy Winehouse to the Bad Plus, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jonatha Brooke, Ojos de Brujo, Mos Def and the Brand New Heavies. Joe's Pub, our erstwhile favourite venue, comes close, but isn't big enough to attract the larger names.

On top of which, here is a venue that seems to have got everything RIGHT. The layout is superb, feeling intimate despite its capacity, with perfect sightlines everywhere. The sound system and lighting are awesome, and the staff are (so far) lovely. They still haven't quite sorted out their seating policy, which seems to change on an almost daily basis, but as we've befriended the bartenders, we have so far been lucky enough to procure a seat whenever we've wanted one. And it's not cheap - but then why should it be, considering the quality of the bands, equipment and general gig experience there. So a BIG UP to the Highline, and if you've not yet been, then check it out.

Mos Def at the Highline Ballroom


Blogger codenameLizzy said...

We'll never get you home now.

3:33 PM, June 04, 2007  

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