Fishing for Compliments: Jazz Album

People ask me all the time if there is a particular Jazz album for a specific occasion or “What’s a good album to sit back and just chill to”?  I make a ton of recommendations because there is a lot of Jazz out there.  One album that really stands out to me is “Fishing for Compliments” a blend of Cool, Swing and Smooth Jazz all rolled up into one hell of an album created by tenor sax phenom Scott Kreitzer.  Kreitzer is accompanied on this album by one of the best rhythm sections in the business today, including: Kenny Washington, David Finck, Andy Ezrin and Kreitzor’s mentor, Ira Sullivan.  Each artist in this combination, compliment each other throughout the entire album the way only true Jazz masters can. This compilation is flavored with all of the various influences throughout Scott’s Career such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, and Ira Sullivan.

 

Scott Kreitzer Fishing for Compliments

 

Just a little about the man behind this album, a current New York City Resident, Scott is originally from South Florida and started his musical journey on the clarinet when he was twelve years old.  At the age of fifteen, Scott was introduced to the tenor sax and Jazz legend Ira Sullivan, who later became his  mentor.  When Scott turned nineteen he ventured off to New York City where he was able to study with Joe Lovano, Eddie Daniels, and Bob Mintzer, while he was still able to continue his education at William Paterson College.

“Fishing for Compliments” is on of those albums that can be played on any occasion for any type of mood.  Whether your throwing an exclusive dinner party or you need to come down after a stressful day, this album is the perfect answer for any situation.  Have a listen, swing and enjoy!

Pennies from Breakfast Heaven


In the over-crowded Washington avenue section just south of Atlantic ave Brooklyn, there is a little slice of breakfast heaven called the “Penny House Cafe”.  As soon as you walk into this hidden gem of a coffee shop/cafe, you are greeted by an aroma of coffee and a menagerie of pastries which tantalize all of your olfactory senses.

The menu had a ton of delectable items on it.  Since this was my first time in this establishment, I carefully studied each item, trying to decide which was best, to match my palette’s craving.  Everything was so tempting and then it jumped right out at me.  The three cheese omelette with American Cheese, Swiss Cheese, and Sharp Cheddar, all encapsulated in one of my favorites, the “Everything” bagel.  I placed my order with the server behind the counter and was told to grab a seat.

Just as I sat down, I literally only waited about two minutes(original New Yorkers don’t like to be kept waiting more than five minutes) and the server already brought my sandwich over to me which was completely overstuffed. That’s what an original “New Yorker” like myself and all others truly relish, good food and fast service.  As I took my first bite, I tasted the perfect melding of the three cheeses along with the seasoning that our chef flavored the eggs with.  Flavoring of the eggs is a very important quality everyone should look for when visiting specific breakfast eateries.  The bagel was a “New York” bagel, considering “New York” bagels are the best, that was an added bonus to the medley of tastes that danced across my tongue as I was getting ready to take another bite.

Pennies from Breakfast Heaven

In between each succulent bite I took a few sips of some very good brew.  I asked the server what kind of coffee I was drinking and he said a combination of a “La Colombe Coffee Torefiction” and La Colombe Nizza Espresso”.  The perfect way to wash down a breakfast delight that I completely devoured in a “New York” minute and yet still enjoyed each bite to the fullest.

If you are in a rush or if you are looking to sit down and enjoy  a hardy breakfast pleasure, head over to the “Penny House Cafe” you won’t be disappointed.  Make sure you tell them Dave Jacobs sent you.

The Penny House Cafe
732 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238

 

My Passion – My Therapy – My Life

From Hitsville USA (Detroit Michigan) to Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant) Brooklyn, Kendra J. Ross, professional dancer, professional choreographer, teaching artist, arts administrator, and community organizer was able to set aside some time out of her extremely busy schedule for us so that we may get to know more about this “Detroit” native, now one of the most well-known performers in the Brooklyn and New York City dance community.  Growing up in Detroit has shaped Kendra into the proud black woman she is today.  One of the most segregated cities, Kendra was always surrounded by black people of all shades, colors and aptitudes.  According to Kendra, black has always been beautiful, she never experienced being a “token” until her adulthood.  Being from Detroit, has given Kendra a love for the flashy elements with a little bit of grit.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

In her early years, growing up in Detroit, Kendra (pictured here courtesy of Longtower Photography) was always a performer.  Her career started with a performance of an assortment of MC Hammer and Michael Jackson interpretations, in a well-know venue to her, which was her living room in front of a very tough crowd, which happened to be her parents and grandparents.  Even though Kendra did not start taking formal dance lessons til she was twelve years old, she was always fascinated with dance.  Her eternal love for the art was conflicted with also wanting to go into the legal profession as an attorney and she would have, until her AP Chemistry teacher told her that aspiring to be a dancer is a “waste of her talent”.  “I do not take kindly to people telling me what I cannot do so I decided to prove her wrong” Ross says.

When asked what she loves and what are some of the challenges she faces in her field of expertise, we find that connecting with other people through movement is what Kendra loves about what she does in her chosen profession.  She can express so much more than words can signify through her choreography,  especially at that moment when she discovers a quality about herself through dance and when she is able to help someone else reveal an attribute about themselves through their progression as well.  With her love for contemporary dance and folkloric dance, specifically Afro Caribbean dance, which tends to be underfunded, coupled with the fact that people aren’t going to live shows as much, unless it’s Broadway or a very well known company, due to the growing popularity of the Internet,  Kendra has to take on the role of multiple jobs while creating and performing her masterpieces.  Fortunately she works in the realm she also creates in, Kendra is the “Director of Programs and Administration” for “Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance”.  According to Ross, the labor can be exhausting and not as financially rewarding as the amount of work she puts in, however, in her own words “art is my passion, my therapy and my life so I do it anyway”.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

There is a large source of influence and inspiration Kendra pulls from, including, her family, ancestors, the Orishas,  Detroit and Bed-Stuy and her appreciation for music, all of which inspire her and the different moods it creates.  As far as individual influences, Kendra holds in high regard, both Katherine Dunham and Pearl Primus for their movements and strict commitment to evolving tradition.  Adia Tamar Whitaker the “director” of the “Ase Dance Theater Collective” and the way she continues the legacy of being grounded in tradition along with creating new tradition also has quite an impact on Kendra, who is also a member of this company.  Efeya Sampson, a beautiful dancer, teaching artist, cancer survivor and Kendra’s best friend also inspires and influences her by reminding her to be strong, to walk the world with grace and power, while challenging her to be a better dancer because she doesn’t want to be out-shinned by her “bestie”. (photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)

With all that is going on in Kendra’s life there is actually a fraction of downtime.  Kendra has started a new Sunday morning self care ritual.  She starts off by playing her music, then she starts dancing in the mirror, followed by dancing over to the kitchen, to fix herself some “gluten free” pancakes.  On other days, she likes to talk to friends and family in person or over the phone or watch television, her new fix is a show called “This is Us”.  She loves to cook and on days where the weather is cooperating, she loves to walk around  the rapidly changing Bed-Stuy especially during the warm months or sometimes just sitting at home in silence contemplating in her peaceful surroundings.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

Her current residence of Bed-Stuy surrounds her with diverse motivations, ideas and enthusiasm, all a part of community and legacy the two most important factors about what she does.  Since her work is rooted in the African Diaspora, she believes in upholding and carrying on these traditions that hold the ancient knowledge that the people of the African Diaspora have used for survival. Through her work, the companies she dances with and the art she administers, Kendra believes that she is creating community for people.  Hence her creation and founding of “STooPS” a conduit for community building and intentional artistic experimentation.  New York City is massive, it can feel over crowded and lonely at the same time, the community she creates along with other communities she is a part of, serve as a family support system for herself, for those she works with and the continuing of the “Kendra J. Ross Legacy”. (photo courtesy of Ivan Forte)

Kendra J. Ross Teaching Artist

(photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)

Little Known Facts About Queens



Queens, a misunderstood borough, mostly because people just pretty much know this borough for three reasons, LaGuardia airport, JFK airport and Citi Field(home of the “Mets”).  However, what most people don’t know, is that the borough of Queens is named after an actual queen.  Queens is named after Queen Catherine of Branganza who was the wife of King Charles the II.  Catherine was born in Portugal and she was wed to Charles back when the British colony was established in New York.

Astoria Queens is the home of one of the world’s finest pianos.  Steinway and Sons, one of the most if not the most famous piano manufacturers calls its home there, for the past 100 years.  The first grand and upright pianos were crafted in Astoria back in 1853.  Tours are given all the time at this astonishing facility.

Famed music performers the “Ramones”, first started to rehearse in a small studio in the basement of Joey’s mom’s art gallery in Flusing.  A few other music legends  that also lived in Queens are John Williams, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley from the band “Kiss”.  Cyndi Lauper, Daniel “Dee” Snider, along with rappers and Hip Hop performers, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Nas, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J,  and Run DMC, were residents as well.  Jazz legend Louis Armstrong called Queens home up to his last days, his house is now a museum.

With over 2 million residents, Queens is the most diverse borough out of its’ rival boroughs.  If Queens were to secede from New York City and go back to being an individual city before it joined New York City, it would be the 5th largest city in the United States.  Queens has about 400,000 less people than Chicago.  With that being said, Queens is more than just the borough that houses two of the top ten worst but not the worst airports in the country and home to the “Mets”, Queens has a very rich and dynamic demographic and quite a bit of history that was barely touched in this article.  Get out and enjoy Queens for a change maybe go to a Mets game or one of the numerous museums as well.

Flushing Meadows Park Queens

 

Nothing Can be Finer Than Being at Mike’s Diner


Earlier this morning I was at a cozy diner in Brooklyn on Utica Ave.  I am sure all of my readers have passed by it once in their lifetime.  Utica is a main street that pretty much runs all the way through Brooklyn going North and South.   I have driven by it for a long time myself and I just never had the time to go in and partake, except for today.  When you drive by Mike’s Diner, it’s tiny, you could miss it, even though it’s on the corner of Utica and Winthrop.  However, when you go inside, it lives up to the cozy ambiance you would expect from an old-school diner, especially when being greeted at the door by Michelle, one of the servers.

I ordered my usual breakfast standard, two eggs up, bacon, home-fries, and coffee.  Now I know what you are thinking, any diner can do that and do it well, however, not every diner can serve it well.  I was in there during the heart of the rush and Michelle who was my server didn’t miss a beat.  She took my order and at the same time she was pouring my coffee she offered me a shot of vitamin “C” (Orange Juice in case you don’t know).  She is a true professional at what she does, especially when she brought my order out which was piping hot.Mike's Diner Utica

The food itself was good, as stated earlier, my order came out piping hot and I didn’t have to wait long at all.  The coffee was fresh and the eggs were good, the bacon and home-fries were delicious.  Mike’s Diner is a breakfast cooking machine and definitely prides themselves on return business because they have me as a repeat  customer for future dining experiences.

What sets Mike’s apart from every other diner out there is the service and the cleanliness.  Mike’s dining staff is truly exceptional at what they do, from the chef in the back to the people upfront.  Head over to Mike’s when you have a moment for breakfast and ask for Michelle, she will take care of you and make you feel like you are the only one in the restaurant.

Mike’s Diner
630 Utica Ave, Brooklyn NY 11203

Belgian Beer Cafe


It was around 9:30 in the morning on a Wednesday, I was walking down 5th ave, in “The City” (Manhattan in case you don’t know) and I was absolutely famished.  I wanted breakfast and I am not talking about a “McMuffin” or something from one of the many “Deli and Grill” places that camp out on every corner of this vast and limitless city of ours.  I want to sit down and enjoy for a change.  I came upon an inviting establishment named “Belgian Beer Cafe”.  I have been by this place many times during the afternoon and evening and it’s always packed, however, I have never been by this early and wouldn’t you know it, they had a nice little sign out front saying “We Serve Breakfast”, which is just what I needed to see.

As soon as I walked through the door, the atmosphere was tranquil and I was greeted by a friendly and delightful staff member.  She sat me in a great spot, right next to the window, where I was able to observe what was going on outside from a peaceful distance.  The aesthetics were very pleasing and charming.  The music was at a perfect volume.  I was so relaxed as I sipped my delicious coffee, I forgot all about ordering.

The server came over to me and was ready to take my order.  I ordered the “Grand Belge”.  This was off their complete breakfast section of the menu, which comes with eggs any style, brioche french toast, bacon, side salad, french fries and already scrumptious coffee.  Let me just say the “Grand Belge” was awesome.  The eggs were cooked to perfection, the bacon was a delicate crisp, the brioche french toast was fluffy, the side salad was refreshing and the french fries were delightful to say the very least.

The service was very good, my cup was always filled without even asking, and the server was very professional and courteous, which is rare these days during breakfast time.  After I finished my meal, the server cleared my place and there was no rushing me out at all, it was a come in a stay for a while fulfillment.

This was truly a wonderful dining experience during the breakfast hour and I definitely recommend this restaurant to all of my readers.  The “Belgian Beer Cafe” does breakfast Monday through Friday 8 to 11 am.  They are located at 220 5th avenue at the corner of 26th street.  Tell them Dave Jacobs from “You Me NYC” sent you over.

Belgian Beer Cafe

Adding the Finishing Touch

“Wrapped by Nellz” a Brooklyn based hair wrap line is making quite a stir in the local community and New York City as well.  Jamaican born, moved to Brooklyn from Florida where she was raised,  had a lot to do with why Nellz got into the custom hair wrap industry.  She loves the diversity and the fashion the city has to offer.  Nellz has always worn hair wraps and  has received a ton of compliments.  She would use scarves and shirts, however it would just not look right, the threads would be showing, amongst other effects, which was another factor that prompted her to get into the business of making custom hair wraps.

After praying and consulting with the pastor of her church, and aligning her vision with her church, Nellz stepped into the world of being an entrepreneur.  Owning her own business plays a huge part in maintaining the ministry and the church of which she is a part of.  Taking that bold step, has really jump-started a passion and ignited her creativity side.  Nellz started to wash, cut, iron and sew her own wraps and created many various sizes for all to enjoy.

Wrapped By Nellz

Her design style is focused mainly on a lot of African prints and patterns with a collection of calm textiles and materials as well.  She gets most of her fabrics from Africa, California, Florida, Texas and New York City.  She likes to obtain from these different areas based on their distinct vibe as opposed to what is already the standard in New York City.  With that being said, one of Nellz’s favorite designers is Betsey Johnson and the way she boldly expresses her love for the “out of normal style”.  Nellz follows suit by not always matching her wraps with her outfits, creating her own “out of normal style”.

One of her biggest challenges of owning her line is finding the medium and looking for repetition.  Being fairly new to the industry, Nellz experiences little day to day achievements and struggles as she tries to pinpoint the trend and avoid the norm.  Once she has defined the mean, she will know what to expect at that point going forward.

Whatever little downtime Nellz has, she focuses on her family and her heavy involvement with her church.  She also has been evaluating as to whether she will be adding earrings as an additional accessory to her line as well.  She has been receiving a lot of positive feedback from her customers regarding her wraps and when she will be adding earrings as well.  Should Nellz decide to add earrings to her line, I am already positive it will add an additional “finishing touch” along with one of her wraps, to any wardrobe that is missing that eye-catching accent and completing the look with a touch of exceptional brillance.

 

 

 

 

Fashion Trap

Fashion TrapHaitian born and Brooklyn raised since the age of 8 years old, founder and head designer of the urban clothing line “Fashion Trap” Carl M, is a true believer that one really can control his or her own destiny in life, by taking nothing for granted and seizing every opportunity that comes along.  The confirmation of starting his line is based on his ability to create, his desire to connect with people and that he just wants to influence the industry by speaking a language that everyone can understand. He defines fashion as an art, a dialect of expressing himself and the way he cultivates relationships with others.

Fashion Trap

Fashion design is not a career to Carl, it is a passion and a purpose to create a vision, turning that vision into reality and sharing it with everyone around him.  Everyday,  just by walking the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, Carl is influenced by all the people he sees, their personalities and their style.  SOHO, Meatpacking, Tribeca, 7th ave along with the internet and social media, is where Carl frequents the most, for his inspiration and to keep up to date with the current trends, only to work on his own interpretation of those trends as well.Fashion Trap

When asked about his personal style, Carl equated his style to the equivalent of the “Boy Band”.  He has many styles and doesn’t like to be labeled under any particular type of genre.  Depending on his mood for that day, his style could be that of a rock-star, urban, and or preppy look.

Carl’s hard work, and dedication to his craft and his line is very impressive.  I, along with the rest of our readers are looking forward to seeing what else he is going to bring in this fast-paced ever-changing industry of ours.

Fashion TrapFashion TrapFashion Trap

 

 

 

Rose Berger NYC

Rose Berger NYCNOHO, for those of you who don’t know what it stands for, it stands for North of Houston in New York City.  It’s also one of the most trendy neighborhoods, where creativity meets cool and chic.  It was home to legendary artists such as Andy Warhol and unforgettable music clubs like CBGBs.  It’s also home to the elegant and exclusive jewelry line, Rose Berger NYC.  Rose, pictured to the right, is from a small mining town in West Virginia.  Life was tough there, it was a very poor town and extremely difficult to get a good education, especially in the early 1950s.  Rose and her family moved to New York City in 1963 where according to Rose “Life was a hell of a lot easier but still challenging”.  Those big-city challenges taught Rose never to take anything for granted, with hard work anything is possible and to be strong enough to accept failure along with success.

When asked what lead up to her becoming a Jewelry designer, she attributes it all, to a bookmark she made for her daughter out of one of her sterling silver charms.  Her daughter pulled it out in school and the idea caught on.  Before Rose knew it, she started to receive requests from all of her daughter’s classmates, family and friends.  It was a daunting task to find charms that matched each personality so Rose decided to take a silversmith course to make her own charms and designs.  Before the course was even over, she bought a designer’s work bench, tools and set up a small work-space in her kitchen.  It wasn’t just bookmarks she was making anymore, it was pendants, earrings, rings and other accessories as well.

With her new found passion in the art of jewelry design, Rose would find herself up all hours of the night working on her creations.  Her hard work and dedication, afforded her  the opportunity to open a popup store which was in business for 19 months while she was employed full time.  It was there that Sarah Gore-Reeves, a fashion editor from “Vogue Mexico”, approached her and inquired about using one of her pieces for a photo-shoot.  The December 2012 issue of “Vogue Mexico” featured two of Rose’s hand designs worn by super model Coco Rocha.  All of  this happening, Rose was able validated herself and her decision to keep on designing.

Rose Berger NYCLiving in NOHO, is one of Rose’s biggest inspirations, along with images from history books, such as chain-mail armor worn by European and Japanese soldiers, Egyptian body jewelry and period pieces from other cultures around the world.  When she leaves home, she is steps from NYU (New York University) and Broadway.  Within a 2 block radius, she witnesses a photo-shoot, music video and or film shoot.  According to Rose, most New Yorkers love to wear black and she does as well.  Before she even designs, she envisions how the piece will look on a black background or on her mannequins with black canvas so she can bring the idea to life.  According to Rose, when an individual wears black he or she is looking to accessorize from head to toe.

Rose Berger NYCWhat makes Rose’s designs unique in the industry is that they compliment the body and are extraordinarily comfortable.  Rose designs body chains, metal dresses, and entire outfits out of chain-mail.  Depending on the day and where she draws her motivation from, she might create a pair of sterling silver earrings that attach to a necklace, a head piece, face piece, or a pair of classically designed earrings for a dinner party.  All of Rose’s designs are one of a kind also contributing to why her designs stand out in the design community and the industry as well.

Rose Berger NYCWith such distinct designs, Rose is always being approached to use her designs for photo-shoots, video and film shoots.  There is a great demand for her pieces, however that demand also comes with frustration.  According to Rose, being less of a known designer makes it twice as hard to sell her items.  One can throw in the ever increasing cost of marketing to the equation of frustration as well.  She refers back to her popup store, where her booth was next to a woman selling well known pieces at twice the price of Rose’s.  People were buying based on the brand name, even though the jewelry was literally falling apart in their hands.  What frustrated Rose the most is that the woman in the booth next to her called upon her services to fix her merchandise constantly, whether it was a jump ring that needed to be replaced or a faulty clasp that needing to be adjusted.  

When asked about upcoming fashion trends developing, she wishes she kept what she used to wear in the 70s and 80s.  She also spotted jeans with holes in the knees that she use to wear in the 90s.  However, she is saddened at the fact that  women are wearing less jewelry as before.

Rose Berger NYCIn the high-paced ever-changing world of fashion and jewelry design Rose was asked what she does in her down time and she explained that she just recently retired from her full time job, the beginning of this year so there is no downtime.  Her downtime is being a full time designer and she loves every minute of it.

In closing, I am quite sure that the designers she admires most, Betsey Johnson, Tarun Tahiliani, and Joe Galliano, just to name a few, would return the favor and admire her just as much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Rainbow Lead the Way

Not too long ago I was at a private art exhibit over on 10th ave in Chelsea for an amazing artist by the name of Alfrena Moosa.  She came up from South Florida with a few of her astonishing works and I have to say everyone was very impressed with what she had to offer, both as an artist and as a person as well.  “Let the rainbow lead the way” is what Alfrena titles her body of work.

Although she was extremely mobbed by collectors, critics, and reporters such as myself, she was able to answer a few of my questions before she was pulled in a different direction by someone else.  Alfrena doesn’t have a favorite artist, however she does appreciate the early artists that have paved the way for the up and coming artists in today’s society.  According to Alfrena, there is not one piece of artwork today that one cannot say mimics a previous artist’s technique, style or skill.

Art has affected Alfrena by influencing her sense of creativity and love for color.  It also has given her the self confidence, that she can be the best in all facets of her craft as long as she continues to work hard, stay true to herself and never be afraid to approach something others might be unsure of.  Looking at her creations and her hands is a constant reminder to her of the gift she has been blessed with.


Although Alfrena doesn’t have a favorite artist, her favorite genres of art are realism and abstract.  She loves to combine both and looking at her artwork, she does a extraordinary job at this difficult combination.  Her methods to start a project begins by asking herself, how she can express herself through the narrative of each picture or idea before her.  Her next step is to make sure that each proportion of her piece is correct.  Then she uses her imagination and music as a guide for the placement of lines, shapes and color.

In closing, I was only able to get a little bit more from this brilliant artist before she was pulled away by a few other journalists.  When asked about her future and where she envisions her art work,  Alfrena wants to start a foundation that encourages teens to use their gifts that they were blessed with as a pathway to a productive future. Alfrena also envisions her works in various public spaces such as hospitals, museums, galleries and of course on the cover of a book or magazine.  More importantly, she wants her artwork to be the motivation, inspiration and the reason to what makes a person smile or say “Wow”, just by one glimpse of her work.

(This First Piece of Artwork is Titled “Follow the Rainbow”)
(This Second Piece of Artwork is Titled “Emotionally Balanced”)