Highlights in Jazz

Jack Kleinsinger is a legend in his own mind.  But he is also well-known for 39 seasons of the Highlights in Jazz series which plays at the Tribeca Arts Center at Borough of Manhattan Community College at 199 Chambers Street.

This auditorium is rather large for jazz concerts for a couple of reasons.  First is that you can’t fill this room with jazz aficionados.  There just aren’t that many who will kick out $150 for a four show season.

Jazz is best in an intimate setting, unless you are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie or Billie Holliday, all who are long gone and have not been equaled in popularity for decades, At Preservation Hall, America’s jazz room in New Orleans off Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, the lines are long and not everyone gets in, but there you can hear some of the musicians who created jazz in the first place.  Some are old-timers whose chops still work, somehow, and who play that Dixieland as it was when it was.  There you can smell the sweat of the musicians and audience and, if you sit on the front row cushions, feel the spit of the horn players.  That may not be an appealing thought to many of you, but that is what jazz feels like.

If you are a jazz lover you probably already know about Jack Kleinsinger’s concert series;  if you don’t, then you should. 

Last week’s concert featured Aaron Weinstein, a fine violinist, Jay Leonhart, a great pianist, Barbara Carroll and Paula West.  Ms. Carroll, an old-timer, is a fine jazz pianist, but the songs she selected  ...  what is the technical term – sucked.  She would have been a hit had she just played the piano, but it was hard sitting through some of the really bad songs she chose to sing.

Paula West, introduced as if she was a super star was, simply, not.  She is an okay singer – took a couple of good risks with material from Jimmy Webb:  Witchita Lineman, and Bob Dylan:  Like a Rolling Stone.  But as a singer I found her quite ordinary.

No doubt some of these concerts are better than others.  I have been to oneother in the past and the memory is faded so I really can’t say.  But I do tend to remember the best of the things I see.  Then again, jazz can be very good but rarely is.  You need really good, creative musicians.  Even Aaron Weinstein who is a virtuoso of the violin, got repetitive with the licks he played.  Ok, you are very quick and play really well, but you have to vary your style to stay interesting and I quickly tired of the same ol; same ol’ Mr. Weinstein kept cranking out.