Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lullaby of Birdland

I have been to Birdland last night.

Yes... the legendary Jazz club. The very one.

Of course, the current one stands at the different location from the original where Charlie "Bird" Parker (a.k.a. Forest Whitaker in my memory) graced the stage. Still, it was a spine chilling sensation to be there.

But, last night, I was after more than just a Jazz legend.

I was at Cast Party, an "open mic" cabaret hosted by Jim Caruso on Mondays at Birdland.

Just to reassure some of my friends who are familiar with my sing-along antics, no, I did not inflict myself on the audience.

It's a very good value entertainment.

Some performers are good.

Some not so good.

Some are just downright horrible. (Strangely, the worse the performance is, the more the performers seem to be enjoying themselves.)

In any event, the host, Jim Caruso, keeps the audience entertained with his acid sense of humour and his own phenomenal performing talents. The back-up musicians are great, too.

Music tends to be jazzy, with some Broadway stage numbers.

Highly recommended.

I must admit that I am a bit of musical geek. It must have something to do with my childhood encounter with Julie Andrews in "Sound of Music" and a decade of learning English through many other musical films and their songs.

It is definitely uncool in the current music climate but, hey, I am old enough not to care. Apparently, pop music industry's target consumer's average age is 14. One of my favourite recently-discovered comedians, Rob Paravonian, explains that that is why Fergie has gone solo from Black Eyed Peas. The musicians were holding her back from becoming a pop hit.

Leonard Bernstein said that musical is the reflection of the way American people speak. I suppose the Americans are speaking Hip-Hop now.


If you are a musical geek like myself, another place you might find fun (and alarming) is Marie's Crisis. It's just a basement bar with a piano. But the piano is played by some Broadway stage rehearsal pianists (I think) and they play musical tunes with full audience participation. Yes. I mean "full". Everybody sings along at this bar.

It is one thing to have the self-awareness as a musical geek. It is entirely another thing to be surrounded by like-minded people and having your inhibitions stripped away in public.

I must admit that it is slightly worrying that these two venues make up most of my notable after work activities so far in NY after 5 months. Maybe I am far more uncool than I thought I was at first.

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