Let’s shake off the dust of last year’s trials and tribulations and move into the new year of 2019 with great expectations and a commitment to activism in the community and in our personal lives. In an effort to get you kicked started into the new year, here is a short list of New Year’s Eve happenings in the Big Apple.
Sistas’ Place (456 Nostrand Ave.), the only jazz with a revolutionary voice in Brooklyn and the city, will host its annual celebration beginning at 10:30 p.m. They will feature the pianist Kenny “Swingin” Gates with saxophonist Pete Chavez, bassist Beldin Bullock and drummer Webb Thomas. The evening includes a Champagne toast and traditional southern dinner. Tickets are $50 per person and must be purchased in advance. Call 718-398-1766.
Sound Bite Restaurant (737 Ninth Ave. at 50th Street), in the midst of the celebratory giant ball dropping in Times Square, will present its New Year’s Eve celebration from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. The night will include an open bar, four-course dinner, party favors and Champagne toast with music by Drew Anderson & Newtet. Anderson, a young trumpeter from Richmond, Va., is rising on the New York scene. He has studied with Charles Tolliver, Marcus Printup and Wynton Marsalis. Tickets are $125 per person. For reservations, call 917-409-5868 or email email@example.com.
On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the Smoke Jazz & Supper Club will present the Harold Mabern Quartet, plus very special guest vocalist Mary Stallings. Mabern is one of the great post-bop pianists of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are almost no words to describe him. Seeing him perform live is the most accurate description of his talent genius. He appeared on three of Lee Morgan’s most successful Blue Note albums: “Live at the Lighthouse” (1970), “The Last Session” (1971) and “The Gigolo” (1965). His cascading percussive riffs on that title cut are outrageous. He was also the first-call pianist for Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Cecil Payne and Frank Strozier. From 1992 to the present, he has been Eric Alexander’s trusted pianist onstage and on recordings. Mabern was the leader on their latest-released album, “The Iron Man” (Smoke Sessions 2018). This long-standing quartet includes tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth.
The special guest vocalist Stallings is one of my favorites. She follows in the tradition of Nancy Wilson and Shirley Horn. She has a soulful, honey-toned voice that weaves superb stories of love, heartbreak and joy as her lyrical phrasing captivates your ear canal.
Smoke offers two all-inclusive dinner packages: a four-course festive dinner, wine and beer open bar and live performances (one set of music at the 6:30 p.m. seating and two sets at the 9:45 p.m. seating). The second seating includes a countdown to the New Year with Champagne toast and caviar. For the 6:30 p.m. seating, there is a $175 music charge and the 9:45 p.m. seating has a $275 music charge. Smoke is located at 2751 Broadway (at 103rd Street). For reservations, call (212) 864-6662.
The Jazz Standard (116 E. 27th St.) on Manhattan’s East Side will swing into the New Year with the Grammy Award-winning Mingus Big Band. Since the bassist and composer Charles Mingus’ death in 1979, his alumni and younger recruits have continued to play his vast repertoire, “a body of work comparable in scope and invention to Duke Ellington’s,” according to John Fordham writing in The Guardian in 2016).
Some of the noted band members, who are bandleaders and composers in their own right, include trumpeter Alex Sipiagin; trombonists Conrad Herwig, Robin Eubanks and Earl McIntyre; pianist David Kikoski; saxophonists Lauren Sevian, Brandon Wright, Wayne Escoffery; drummer Donald Edwards; and bassist Boris Kozlov.
There will be two sets at 7:30 p.m. for $150 per person, which includes a three-course meal from a special New Year’s Eve menu, and a 10:30 p.m. set for $225 per person, includes a three-course meal from a special New Year’s Eve menu and a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight. All tickets must be purchased in advance at the website www.jazzstandard.com or at Ticketweb only. Walk-ups are not accepted.
In Montclair, N.J., Trumpets Jazz Club & Restaurant will be jumping with the talented performer and recent winner of the AUDELCO Award, Ty Stephens, along with The Souljaazz. The show begins at 9 p.m. with music through 1 a.m. The music is for your listening and dancing pleasure all evening long. Those familiar with Stephens know he doesn’t approve of parking on the dance floor. The club is located at 6 Depot Square. Tickets are $125 per person. For required reservations, call 973-744-2600.