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One of the best kept secrets in Manhattan is a place where established top musicians such as Bobby Short, Barbara Carroll, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, and K.T. Sullivan, along with newcomers pianist Bill Charlap and singer Dena De Rose request a chance to stretch out and hone their skills to an always attentive and appreciative audience. At St. Peter's Church, these Wednesday midday concerts last approximately an hour, a donation of $5.00 is requested, tables and chairs are placed in the back of the room if you care to bring your lunch. Otherwise, rows of chairs are arranged in front of the performing area. No matter which way one cares to listen, one can hear without any disturbance as there is never any chatter or conversation. The musicians can or can not talk, explain, pontificate whatever it's their room, their hour but when the playing is over, they will gladly spend time talking with you another great advantage to the audience members. So far this year, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett did an hour on the works of Noel Coward and Cole Porter, young giant Bill Charlap played magnificent solo piano as did veteran Dick Katz who, in another program, joined singer/pianist Daryl Sherman in a tribute to Duke Ellington. Dick Sudhalter who is one of the voices on the Ken Burns series, Jazz, brought four stellar musicians to join him in a glorious hour of ensemble Dixieland joy. These are noontime sessions featuring great artists in an informal atmosphere. These Wednesday afternoon series, which were started 18 years ago, commence after Labor Day and continue until June with time off for the holiday season. Its founder is Edmund Anderson who, among other accomplishments, was one of the writer's of Flamingo, a non- Duke Ellington tune that has had great success and with whom Edmund maintained a lifelong friendship. Mr. Anderson continues to preside over the weekly happenings. So take a midday midtown break and treat yourself to unparalleled live music from some of the world's best in the one and only New York City....
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.