The Kitano Hotel – New York, NY, March 2nd, 2012 (words and photos by Marc Birnbach, backstageblogger.net)
Jazz at the Kitano is a warm restaurant and bar nestled on the second floor of the Kitano Hotel. Views of Grand Central Terminal compliment a glowing Chrysler Building with sprinkles of racing headlights up and down Park Avenue. The scene transitions from blaring car horns to a sultry saxophone solo, from loose change falling on the cold wet side walk to the taps of a high hat, from the rat race to foot bouncing tempos by each of the professional Jazz musician who stop in.
The Kitano is the most intimate hot spot to experience Jazz just inches away from some of the highest acclaimed Jazz musicians today. Jazz at the Kitano is hosted by artist manager, Gino Moratti, welcoming visitors from around the world to have a truly rare music experience very up close and very personal.
This weekend Jazz at the Kitano welcomes Grammy Nominated Guitarist [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris[/lastfm] and New York Yankee Great [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bernie Williams[/lastfm]. The two music all-stars friends are backed by world renown and award winning musicians [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Thierry Arpino[/lastfm] on drums and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Harvie S[/lastfm] on stand up bass and electric bass. This star studded mash up gears up tonight to color the night with awe inspiring sound that will be heard by the very few select who attend. The music includes original music by both [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris [/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bernie Williams[/lastfm] including a smooth rendition from the Fraiser TV theme song and a playfully sarcastic cover of “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” (“Aristocats” – 1970 Walt Disney Production). [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bernie Williams[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris[/lastfm] showcase their connection through unique guitar conversations with each song. The spirited friendship between these two music artists is evident in their playful and sometimes comical stage antics. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bernie Williams[/lastfm] stumps [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris[/lastfm] with a minor solo in which Gil replies back with the “Charge” baseball riff opening the room up in laughter.
“You never know what to expect when BW and I (Bernie and Gil) get together with an equally talented back line (Harvie S and Thierry). We play every week at our jam in White Plains with amazing musicians and we meet more and more as each week. Tonight and tomorrow night are rare. Nights like tonight do not happen often when everybody is touring, in a recording session, or are tied up with other events.” Parris said during a sit down. This coming from [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris[/lastfm]‘s recent tours with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bobby Caldwell[/lastfm]. ”This year has been eclectic in my music career including the drop of a new album I recorded and co-wrote with a ferocious drummer/singer, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Josh Dion[/lastfm] and now I have two nights with my closest friends here Jazz at The Kitano, I’m having fun.” [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris[/lastfm] is headlining at BB King’s on March 22nd, but tonight is all about two friends sprightly teasing each other with each other’s music.
If the sound check is a testimony what to expect from tonight you will participate in a savoir faire of living breathing music provided by two men whose separate paths crossed one faithful night after a New York Yankee loss and a small White Plains music jam win. ”The transition from baseball to music wasn’t a shocker, especially to my former teammates who I played for on bus rides between stadiums. The Lazy Lounge Jam gave me a great relief from the pressures of playing major league baseball and no one treated me like a super star. I was just another guy with a guitar playing the same notes as they were. I miss baseball and my time as a Yankee, but I’m able to concentrate now on what I was dreaming about as a young boy in Puerto Rico. I’m jamming and touring as a guitarist and my friends are here to back me as I continue to evolve my guitar skills and as I expand my knowledge about writing music.” Williams explained in his hotel room. ”People know me as a New York Yankee first and that’s ok with me. I have been blessed and fortunate with two highly successful careers that came to surface for me and they both brought me to this very night along with one of my closest friends on guitar. How could I not admire Gil’s fluid ability to play guitar? After all he has his own Reverend signature guitar.
Jazz at the Kitano has as much flavor coming from the music it highlights as it does coming from the menu it serves, but the house special tonight will be [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bernie Williams[/lastfm] sharing the cozy corner under the spot lights, backlit by cityscape views, refreshed by fine wine and dining. Gil and Bernie’s friendship and success is a living testimony just how two of the most unlikely pair can find each other at their highest peaks of success in their individual careers and yet arise even higher as a team. No matter how big the stage or how large the audience, when the lights go up and the music starts up you are ushered to sit in on a music set where Williams and Parris connect, share, and passionately play aloud for the pure love and enjoyment of playing. You can take part every Wednesday night with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gil Parris[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bernie Williams[/lastfm] at the Lazy Lounge Jam in White Plains, but for tonight and tomorrow night the place to be for true Jazz enthusiasts is at Gino Moratti’s “Jazz at the Kitano.”