The wide, ample rear of the dog statue greets you as walk down the stairs from the restrooms back to the jazz lounge inside the hotel. Once you re-enter the room on the other side of the glass wall, you may notice the Jazz at Kitano sign. I thought the logo looked like a treble clef choking the letter J but Jon Rag, one of the saxophonists that night, thought it was suggestive of something else. For a venue uninterested in our review, The Kitano has made some interesting design choices. A large abstract painting also hung over the bar—I don’t even want to know what that’s about.
A couple weeks ago, I caught the final night of pianist Angelo Di Loreto’s month-long Tuesday residency at The Kitano. He played duo with three saxophonists, executing virtuosic lines and rhythmic harmonies with his signature heavy-handed touch reflective of his solid, grounded character.
Likewise, saxophonist Pat Carroll’s alto revealed his introspective and soft-spoken nature in its transparent and ephemeral tone. Jonathan Ragonese’s tenor was as robust and commanding as his outspoken personality and flavorful cooking. I don’t know the third saxophonist Dan Wilkins as well but I imagine that his personality mirrors the rich tenor with just the right amount of bite to the sound.
Isn’t it amazing that three people playing the same instrument can sound so different? The individuality of each was even more apparent paired with the same pianist back to back in the same room.
And it’s a nice room with a high ceiling that lets the music and conversations rise and fill the space. The verticality compensates for the cramped floor space in which the waiter will tell you to push in your chair each time he walks by. The lighting is pleasant and the company is sharply suited, many of them likely businessmen staying at the hotel.
The restrooms marked ladies and gentlemen are of typical hotel standards, with the thick quality paper towels. The ladies space consists of a sitting room and a bathroom with two stalls.
If you want to know more about Angelo’s residency, you can read an article by our own men’s room correspondent KMac in the February issue of Hot House, the ubiquitous and self-proclaimed “New York’s Jazz BIBLE For 30 Years!” And now, Nurgul from Kazakhstan tells us how to say, “Where’s the restroom?” in Kazakh –
Thursday was another prematurely warm night where I needed to go on a brisk walk and eat ice cream. Except I was fasting sweets, so instead I watched KMac consume ice cream with a plastic fork from a nearby halal cart. I also waved a fork around, in case he felt self-conscious about holding two half-gallon tubs of Edy’s on the steps of Columbia. When our assiduous men’s room correspondent stirred to go watch a movie at home, I got up to head to my assignment at Somethin’ Jazz Club (To be fair, he shed snare drum etudes for four hours that day, while I practiced zero hours).
Located East of Midtown, Somethin’ Jazz is not convenient to get to from the Upper West Side. The longer we waited for the third train transfer, the more I felt that the train would come any minute because we had already waited so long, so we kept waiting a bit longer. But the amount of time you wait for something does not necessarily correlate with its estimated time of arrival; there’s no sense in expecting that the thing I’m waiting for is closer to arriving, the longer I wait. After twenty minutes or so, it was announced that the E train would not be coming at all.
We managed to get to the club to catch our classmates Olli Hirvonen (guitar), Frederick Menzies (tenor sax), Jeff Koch (bass) and Philippe Lemm (drums). Olli billed his quartet as a “Nordic jazz” group, presumably because with the exception of Jeff, members hail from Finland and Denmark, in addition to Holland. Actually, Jeff is the most exotic person I’ve met since moving to the city—a rare native New Yorker (and I don’t mean from Long Island) in a metropolis of jaded transplants and hopeful immigrants.
If Nordic jazz is synonymous with the ECM label, which showcases European interpretations of the originally American art form, which, in turn, began as a synthesis of African and European music, what do you call it when you have Americans striving to play in the ECM vein?
Of greater interest was the elevator up to the third floor, where the club is situated. The smallest public elevator I have been in, my friend Pat wondered how Jeff got in there with his bass. Upon stepping out, we ran into a Japanese man looking for a lounge on the second floor. I thought the elevator would lead him directly there but we couldn’t find the down button to get the doors open. Naturally, I proceeded to assume that this elevator was of the sort that only travels up, but not down because it’s easier taking the stairs down.
Make sure to try the elevator, if you visit. Someone demonstrated later that it actually does go down.
“Jazz elevator!” “Why not jazz gas station?” People have been mocking my work in such a fashion. Make fun all you want — I won’t be the one caught without toilet paper in the stall.
Olli teaches us how to say, “Where’s the restroom?” in Finnish —