The year seems like it just flew by, and here we are getting ready to celebrate another year busting into 2012. One thing’s for sure: In Gotham there is never a dull moment when New Year’s Eve swings into town. Here are a few jazz clubs you may want to check out on the biggest party night of the year.
The historical Showman’s Cafe (375 W. 125th St.) in Harlem will be jumping with the Baba Don Quintet; there will be shows at 9:30 and 11:30 p.m. The cost for the evening is $55 per person or $100 per couple, which includes a traditional New Year’s Eve soul food dinner, from fried chicken to pig’s feet. Not a bad price for these difficult economic times. For reservations, call (212) 864-8941.
The legendary Lenox Lounge (288 Lenox Ave. at 125th Street), where Billie Holiday and Langston Hughes hung tough, will present pianist Danny Mixon and his quartet featuring vocalist Vinnie Knight.
There will be two shows: The one at 8 p.m. is $30 per person while the New Year’s Eve show begins at 10, costs $60 per person and includes party favors and a midnight champagne toast. Recorded music or the sounds of a live DJ will raise the partying spirits and keep everyone dancing until 4 a.m. For reservations, call (212) 427-0253 ext. 13.
Sista’s Place at 456 Nostrand Ave. (corner of Jefferson Avenue) in Brooklyn will present trombonist-composer Craig S. Harris. Regardless of his configuration, Harris is an innovator who leads his audience on exciting expeditions touching the shores of jazz and funk.
There is only one set beginning at 9 p.m. and continuing until 1 a.m. The admission is $50 per person, which includes a Southern dinner with fried chicken, black-eyed peas and rice, potato salad and collard greens. Party favors and a midnight champagne toast is all part of the package. For New Year’s Eve, this sounds like the best bet. For reservations, call (718) 398-1766.
Back on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the incredible pianist Harold Mabern will join saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth, with special guest vocalist Gregory Porter, at the Smoke Jazz & Supper Club (2751 Broadway at 105th Street).
This New Year’s Eve celebration is part of Smoke’s “Countdown 2012: Winter Coltrane Festival;” the two dinner shows will feature music associated with John Coltrane.
The first seating, beginning at 6:30 p.m., is $95 per person at the bar and $145 per person at tables, which includes an open bar (wine and beer), and a four-course dinner and one show. Executive chef Patricia Williams will be preparing such delectable entrees as truffle-studded roast chicken, butter-poached lobster and bacon-wrapped filet mignon.
Unfortunately, the second seating at 9:45 is already sold out. But don’t fret-the jazz continues at a late-night session from 12:45 a.m. to 3 a.m. with the phenomenal pianist-vocalist Johnny O’Neal & his Quartet with guest tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard. There is a $30 cover charge and $10 drink minimum. For reservations, call 212-864-6662.
The Jazz Standard (116 E. 27th St. and Park Avenue South), which has been gaining a reputation as a somewhat eclectic venue for music from straight-ahead jazz to avant-garde, brings in for New Year’s Eve the international sounds of guitarist/vocalist Richard Bona and Mandekan Cubano with special guest Lionel Loueke playing the traditional music of West Africa and Cuba. The band will include trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, trombonist Ozzy Melendez, pianist Osmany Paredes, and percussionists Luisito and Roberto Quintero.
The first set begins at 7:30 p.m. with admission of $125 per person covering the show and a three-course feast of Blue Smoke barbecue (beverages not included). The second set at 10:30 p.m. is $195 per person and includes all the above plus a midnight champagne toast (other beverages not included). For more information, call (212) 447-7733.
No doubt the real jazzheads will be heading down to the Stone (East 2nd Street at Avenue C) in the East Village. This small joint owned by avant-garde musician-composer John Zorn is so hip it doesn’t even have a specific numerical address.
Zorn and friends are playing at 8 p.m. At 11p.m., Marc Ribot’s Spiritual Unity quartet, featuring veteran bassist Henry Grimes, trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr. and Chad Taylor, will present “Bells at Midnight,” music and ritual by and for Albert Ayler (the free jazz saxophonist, composer and singer who died in 1970). This is a hardcore free jazz performance that will definitely take everyone on a New Year’s Eve journey. A traditional champagne toast will follow.
The Stone is very cozy so arrive early; there are no advance tickets or reservations. Admission is $85 for both sets or $60 for Spiritual Unity. For more information, visit thestonenyc.com or call (212) 841-0899.
No matter what you do on New Year’s Eve, have a safe and momentous time. In this coming year, may you have good health, prosper and be happy. Make every day your stage and perform to the best of your ability and success is assured.