Thursday, April 19, 2012

The day. The night.

Navigating on Park Avenue. 5:00 PM. Photo: JH.
“Still a man hears what he wants to hear; and disregards the rest ...”
Paul Simon, “The Boxer”

Thursday, April 19, 2012. Overcast and rain promised yesterday in New York. Light precipitation as of this writing around midnight with much more forecast over the weekend. We need it.

The day. Wednesday/the Michael’s lunch. Mob scene. Bonnie Fuller was at her regular Wednesday Table One with a whole gang, beginning with Gerry Byrne, plus Marc Carver, Carlos Lamadrid, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Elizabeth Park, Norma Kamali (whose got a great boutique around the corner on 56th between Fifth and Sixth); Luanne Zurlo of the World Fund, Lynn Tersoro, Marcy Fisher, James Meigs.
Love is in the air in Central Park.
Around the room: Diane Dimond, Judy Twesky, Jennifer Bristol, Brian Balthazar; next door: William Lauder with Steve Rubenstein; then Charles Grodin and John Gabriel. Stan Shuman was with James Murdoch, the Murdoch son who stepped down from his post at BSkyB two weeks ago in a haze of the British phone hacking scandal. Mr. Murdoch, who is the youngest son of Rupert, in this restaurant jammed with media people, is a very conscientious, studious looking young man (he’s forty but he looks younger), ironically innocuous considering his high public profile and the current state of things. He went largely unnoticed by the crowd, which no doubt was fine with him.

Across the aisle were Da Boyz of Michael’s, Dr. Imber, Andy Bergman, Michael Kramer and Jerry Della Femina; and next to them, the beautiful Mellody Hobson and Amy Shulman. Kelly Langberg was with Michael’s star reporter, Brenda (my name for Diane Clehane); next: Keith Kelly of the NY Post; Jerry Inzerillo with Danny Bennett (son of Tony); Steven Stolman of Scalamandre with Bob Peterson; Lally Weymouth with Christian Falcone; Jim Dunning; Jonathan Wald; Bob Towbin; Vin Cipolla of the Municipal Art Society which is honoring Pete Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney at their gala next week; David Sanford of the WSJ with Lewis Stein; Robert Zimmerman; John Galantic with Donna Lagni of Cosmo;  Showtime’s Matt Blank; Jay Kriegel; Marty Peretz; Nick Verbitsky; Jody Arnhold; Ryan O’Hara; Matt Paget; Nan Swid; Peter Mckillop; and lots more (sorta) just like ‘em.
The night. Last night at Jazz @ Lincoln Center, an extraordinary black tie evening The Paul Simon Songbook evening In Honor of Lisa Schiff, Chairman, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis on the trumpet and Paul Simon on the guitar and vocals. With Special Guest Aaron Neville. With: the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Paul Simon Band. All together, at once. The concert was produced by Ashley Schiff Ramos, daughter of the honorees and quite the dynamo herself (a chip off the not-that-old mom).

This was a gala benefit of course, although with that program, it was one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen at one of these evenings: 880 guests. They raised $3.6 million and there will be two more public concerts today and Friday with Paul Simon and his band donating their services for all three concerts, so the final tally should run somewhere around $4.
Paul Simon taking a bow to a standing ovation.
Paul Simon, Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Neville take their final bows to a standing ovation, last night at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The J@LC orchesetra on the right and the Paul Simon Band center and left.
The crowd exists the Rose Theater after the concert.
The evening started in the Rose Theater at 7:30. On a large screen suspended over the stage Wynton Marsalis, the Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, spoke about Lisa Schiff, who has been chairman of the J@LC board for years and only recently stepped down. Aside from her own musicianship and love of jazz (and all music), and her own talent on the piano, and her record producing business, Lisa in her time there raised more than $315 million for J@LC! The theater we were sitting in is the result – among other things (it’s a great concert hall too). 

After the video, Mayor Bloomberg came to the podium and introduced Lisa, and presented her with her award, and then she spokem thanking all of the many who had helped all along the way, including her daughter and the support of her husband David.  

And then the bands took the stage with the man of the Songbook himself. He opened with “Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes” and for the next nearly 90 minutes, they played and played and filled the room and the audience with rhythm and memories and joy and reverie.
Tables, staff and orchestra awaiting the guests.
And in the Allen Room ...
The table.
First course, a Chilled Maine lobster salad -- VERY spicey (Wasabi) topped with a "boat" containing more spices. Good (and hot!).
Those of us (and there were many if not all) who came of age with Simon & Garfunkel and Paul Simon’s music and lyrics, and his solo career were rocking and bopping and swaying in our seats just like the kids we were back then. It is interesting how his songs have gained gravity and dimension with time, and are as apt and current today as when they were written. Same to be said for the man himself who performs with grace and style, but so casually as if to be a friend performing for friends. Well, he was, and we were.

It was a rousing, moving, exciting, even at times rambunctious (in our heads and hearts) evening. The bands were fabulous. Aaron Neville’s rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” brought an immediacy to the lyrics that first struck our generation deeply as a memorial to the great Civil Rights movement of the 1960s as well as you sad and horrific deaths of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
First dancers on the dance floor serenaded by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks -- it filled quickly.
It was a gift to us all, as was the entire concert, and for that matter, the entire evening. After the concert, the guests moved down to the floor below and the Allen Room and the adjoining reception room for dinner and dancing to a lot of great tunes from the American Songbook, courtesy of the GREAT Vince Giordano. A great evening in New York; friends and fans of Lisa Schiff and daughter Ashley (who is celebrating a birthday today – and expecting her second child with Mike Ramos on June 15th); and of course Wynton and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Paul Simon Band and the humble master himself, a modern troubadour on message.
Wynton Marsalis and Lisa Schiff. Steve Sheppard and Laurie Tisch.
Barbara Carroll and Mark Stroock.
Hilary and Joe Califano.
Bonnie Strauss. Scott and Dana Schiff.
Tracy Snyder, Marcia Mishaan, and Tiffany Dubin.
Raul Suarez and Jackie Weld Drake.
Jim Zirin and Ellen Futter.
Carol Fazzio and Russ Titelman.
Emilia Saint-Amand. Polly Espy and Raul Suarez.
Gale Hayman and Linda Wachner.
Lisa Schiff and Daryl Roth.
Felicia Gordon and her mother Faye Wattleton. Dr. John Espy and Daisy Soros.
Lisa Schiff and Daryl Roth.
Columbus Circle from the windows of the Allen Room last night at 9:30.

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