Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Life is Impermanent...

I had planned to do my second post about a local wine bar, Vinodivino, which featured jazz from the Jed Levy Trio on most Wednesday and Friday nights. Notice I used the past tense. As of last week, this was an ongoing gig. As of today, that gig is no more.

For about one and a half years, you could enjoy great wine with great music from Jed, along with a rotating group of talented pianists and bassists. In the beginning, the trio played mainly the Great American Songbook and jazz standards, along with a few of Jed's own fine originals. Over the months, the gig morphed into an unofficial workshop for the tweaking and perfecting of the new music. And every week, you could generally find me sitting at the table directly behind the one used by the musicians.

It got to the point where I was treated like a non-playing member of the band, rather than just a fan. During the set breaks, the musicians and I would talk about music, politics, current events, general likes and dislikes, and details of our lives. Any walls between listener and performer were completely dissolved. We became like a family initially formed through our mutual love of jazz, and as a result, I also came to know some of these artists' parents, spouses, children and close friends.

Another wonderful benefit was that I developed "educated ears." The music became more alive for me. Watching and listening very closely twice a week for so many months opened up a fuller awareness of the nuances and subtleties of whatever was being played. Furthermore, I became more cognizant of the individual approaches to solos: the differences in touch and tone or improvisations based on different chords and modes, plus a whole slew of other things that seemed like magic to a non-musician like me.

Fortunately, even though this venue is gone, I am still in contact with many of the musicians and since I can catch them playing at other gigs, the music continues. It's just that there was something special about having it right here in my neighborhood, going on while the citizens of Astoria went about living their daily lives which I witnessed through the wine bar's windows. That somehow made the jazz more grounded for me, not a rarified artform meant to be isolated, but something that interacted with and enhanced my world. No concert hall or basement club can ever duplicate this.


  1. 5-1-09
    Maybe one day you can open a place of your own and house the many talented jazz musicians who are always ready to share their music.

  2. Man, I can't tell you how sorry I am to see this go. I had the great fortune to join you many Friday nights to listen to the final set. It was wonderful wrap-up for my stressy weeks. I regret I didn't get to attend more of these evenings, but I really am glad for what I did hear.

    Love ya Fran!