OK, so with business completed and a flight back to Atlanta the next day, I decided that since I was in New York, I’d do something I could only do in New York—insert your own jokes here. For me, that meant walking from back Rockefeller Center to West 44th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, were the Birdland Jazz Club now resides.
I learned of Birdland as a kid, flipping through the stacks of my dad’s LPs. There, living next to the Dave Brubeck and Kingston Trio albums was the Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ “A Night at Birdland, Vol. 1” disc. Playing that record, on my cheap turntable in 1980, was the birth of my love for jazz music. I had spotted the place on my walkabout the day before, and made a note to make sure to come back for a show before I left.
So, as I walked in the doors to Birdland at 8:45 on a Wednesday night, jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli and his seven-piece band were giving the swing treatment some pop tunes. Because I missed the beginning of the set, and because I was there solo, my only option was to sit at the bar. I had no problem with that. I paid my way in, sat at the bar next to a traveling salesman from Minnesota and a couple of tourists from Finland and drifted off into musical bliss.
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