The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul: Jazz

The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul You Me NYCSaxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet have been playing rebellious and unapologetic Jazz for the past three decades.  Anyone familiar with this group is definitely aware of their high-flying improvisations that can launch at any given moment.  “The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul” is a perfect example of freeform at it’s best with each instrumental voice being defined with purpose.

For 20 of those years, piano player Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis have been a staple in the group.  Drummer Justin Faulkner has been with the band for about 10 years respectively.  I have to say that the band has reached another pinnacle tending to a collection of moods with motivating commitment.  Faulkner’s chops are crisp and smooth.  Calderazzo goes ahead and smokes the ivories and Revis’s bass line is fluent and on point.  Marsalis outdoes himself on this album, his phrasing is sharp and endless.  Each member of the quartet compliments each other the way an improv band should.

“Life Filtering from the Water Flowers” is Marsalis’ one and only composition on this album and it is of true Marsalis form.  This arrangement displays a cleverly organized instrumentation with very moving and contained sax riffs only Marsalis can phrase.  Calderazzo’s piano playing and Faulkner’s drumming help convey the message Marsalis is bringing across.   “Life Filtering from the Water Flowers”, compliments the album as a reflective tribute to his late mother Delores Marsalis.

“The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul” is a definite must-have for all Jazz fans.  The creativity of the improvisation tangents in each song is truly an original compilation that cannot be duplicated.  This album is an enjoyable and innovative listen that features some engaging moments of Jazz Improvisation.  This album serves as a perfect example as to why the Brandfors Marsalis Quartet is held in such high regard for the past 30 years.

Jamaica Avenue

I decided to shoot somewhere, I went all the time as a kid-The Ave.  Where I use to get the latest mix cd’s, clothes, sneakers or just walk around with my friends and people watch, capturing history. On a chilly Sunday, the streets were nowhere near as crowded as I remember and the Coliseum was closed.  It’s really only been a few years since I’ve been on that side but new buildings and businesses are going up quicker and quicker every day. I can’t even keep up with it, in my own neighborhood. But for the most part, it was actually just how I left it. As a New Yorker, to be able to go somewhere and it’s still the same, I can’t ask for anything else.

Shit, if You Can Make it Here, You Can Make it Anywhere!

If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. People have always used this as a coping mechanism when the city overwhelms you. But what about the people who have been here their whole lives? What are our mechanisms? The ones that survived what people couldn’t do for six months. What are our words of encouragement to keep going? 

New York is advertised as the fun, loud, entertaining city that never sleeps, filled with assholes too caught up in the hustle and bustle to say hello. When that’s not taking place, it becomes an episode of “Law and Order.” But when you take away all of that bullshit, what’s left to entertain you? If those things didn’t exist, would you guys continue to come here? Would you continue to see this as a stepping stone if it didn’t come with those things? When people come here they think we’re just used to it. People have been known to enjoy cold weather, but no one likes being cold. No one gets used to the wear and tear this city can have on your physical and mental well-being. 

Conclusion

What helps is the perspective of this place. The city is so unique people forget it’s a whole state. It’s not even the capital but it plays such a major part on how New York is viewed as a whole. It’s easy to get caught up and one of the ways to get out is to take in some nature. Trees literally help you breathe. If I were surrounded by skyscrapers and trains and “New York” life all day long, I’d have a panic attack all to myself…: which has literally happened to me. Being native to this surrounding, I’ve learned to drown out certain things and internalize others. It’s one of those things I’m still working on myself. Just don’t forget to breathe. Shit… this society; in this day and age, if you choose to keep going in this life, choose to wake up this morning without complaints. You already made it! You already won. For my native New Yorkers, just keep doing what we do best, keep moving and grooving!  

Transplant Nation

There really aren’t many of us left and that sounded super weird in my head and even more weird to admit on paper but its true. More times than not, I bet you are the only New Yorker in your group of friends or even at work.  You ever go somewhere with them and they try to tell you the best way to get somewhere when they weren’t here for tokens or 9/11? 

 It’s almost like starting High School and hoping you see a familiar face somewhere in the crowd. Forced and/or bought out of their homes to make room for people who are too scared to live in it themselves. “It’s not the best neighborhood but the rent is cheap and they just built a hotel, which means it will be really nice in 5 years! Haha, I definitely won’t be there by then.” Literally a real conversation!

Being ditched by your first yellow cab, eating dirty water dogs(hot dogs) and of course running for the train only to be in the lonely car with the homeless guy who carries his original fragrance. If they survive more than a year of that, people consider themselves Native. That’s the average day for a  New Yorker and that’s only the morning time. I need your public school to have a number in it. Did you take the regents? Ever go to school during a snowstorm? Can you double parallel park anything? Even then, you’re not valid. 

A big part of New York isn’t just about great shopping, pizza, skyscrapers and the sight-seeing. It’s about the people, which makes New York New York. It’s damn near a novelty and a raw form of respect that comes with it. We’re exposed to a lot so we’re open but could sniff bullshit before it hits our nostrils. I’ve heard a lot of transplants admit they couldn’t grow up here or even raise their kids here, a lot of our parents did both. Now a lot of people are either being pushed out or just tired and leave.

Conclusion

This is not to talk complete shit about transplants. I have many friends from the transplant community. You get to experience a place you’ve been your whole life in a completely different way. Take everything in! Admit-tingly, you end up doing things you would not have done and finding little things you walked past every day. Specialty shops that make eating fun and just happen to be vegan, gluten-free and sourced locally.  I know for a lot of people that come here, it’s about conquering fears and following dreams, New York is their Wizard of Oz. I just don’t want to look up one day and not be in Kansas anymore.

Tell Me A Story Please

As a child, my fondest memories of learning came from the stories my teachers told. I loved fables the most, there was always a common sense lesson to be had. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat, listening to their stories. All these years later, I remember those stories. They stayed with me, but more importantly, the lessons stuck. To this day, I love to listen to a good story.

John Ferreira says, “storytelling is what connects us to our humanity. It is what links us to our past, and provides a glimpse into our future.”

I recently had the pleasure of attending an evening of storytelling hosted by Tracey Segarra. Tracey is a storyteller, a Speaker and a Consultant. After listening to the Moth podcast. Tracey became interested in storytelling. She entered the Moth storytelling slam in 2016 and won. She’s been telling stories ever since.Tell Me a Story Please You Me NYC
Photo: Jason Falchook

Tracey feels passionate that stories make us laugh, make us cry and move us. Tracey has brought storytelling to Long Island. Like the Bards and Grios of old, telling stories to the community in order to entertain, educate and remind us of how we are connected.

During the evening of stories, I was moved and engaged. It was a delight to unplug, sit amongst a diverse group and listen to the personal stories of others. The entire room was still, silent and enraptured by each storyteller at the mic. The audience was getting what we all crave, a high touch, intimate experience, shared amongst a group. These types of experiences are few and far between, especially as we allow technology to invade our personal space and relationships and define how we communicate with each other.

A few days later, I sat down with Tracey to understand her passion for storytelling.

How did you get introduced to storytelling?

Well, it was actually my husband, he had been listening to the Moth radio hour on NPR. He turned me on to it. The Moth has people telling true stories about their lives. Some are funny, some are tragic, but they are all compelling because they are about important moments in peoples lives. Moments that changed them somehow, and so once I started listening to it I was instantly hooked. I am a former reporter and writer. So I used to write personal essays. Plus when I was younger I was an actress. I had dreams about being an actress. So when I heard this on the radio it married two things that I love, getting up in front of people and personal stories. So I thought OMG, I have to do this and I love this!

The Moth has these story competitions called story slams in the city.
And so I went with my niece to one of them just to check it out. People put their names in a hat and they pick 10 names randomly. They have a theme, everybody tells one five minute story on that theme. I went to one just to listen. I was hooked. The next time one came up with a theme where I thought I had a story for it, I put my name in the hat, I got picked and I won that night. I was like ok, this is a message. I had no training, no nothing, I just told a story.

When they have ten people who have won story slams, they have a grand slam. In front of 500 people at the music hall in Brooklyn, the winners have to come up with a new story. You compete against nine other story slam winners. I told a story, I won that night. Now, I am like ok, ok, I am meant to do this. I can’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, 52 or 53, but I felt like I had finally found what I am meant to do with my life. This is it, this feels so right.

I am in marketing during the day. I put my marketing hat on and I thought, there is nothing like this on Long Island, why don’t I create this. That becomes my next thing. There is a huge storytelling scene in Manhattan. Any night of the week you can go to a storytelling. I knew we needed this on Long Island.

I have never heard of this.

I know its amazing how it’s such a well-kept secret, not that anyone wants to keep it a secret

I started my show out here at a small local bookstore in Rockville Centre and within a year, I outgrew the store. The store could only hold 50 people, and I outgrew the venue. I started booking bigger venues as more and more people started coming. Then Newsday did a story on me, The Long Island Business News and then the local Herald.
People then started asking me to teach storytelling. I started doing workshops and its grown from there.

Why do you think this is becoming popular, what is energizing this?

One thing, we have become a society of people constantly looking down at their phones every two seconds, however, as you saw last night when someone is telling a compelling, true story, they have your attention; and so as human beings, we crave the connections. It forms a real connection. This is not like stand up comedy, where we are like ok, make me laugh. You know this is like wow, let me in, let me feel what you are feeling. There is something very powerful in that. As society becomes more electronic and distant, we crave the connection. We are still human beings, we still need to connect with people. Storytelling fills that need.

As I was listening last night, I was thinking about how we used to pass on our history through storytelling

Exactly, that was the first thing we did to record history we told the stories to our children and told them to tell their children

And That was a community event

Right, yes, to come together as a community to hear each other stories, that’s why I love the live shows. The energy of the people in the room changes how the storyteller tells the story, we feed off each other

When you envision this, what is your vision for storytelling on Long Island

Well, I would love to book bigger venues and have more people tell stories. Two of the people in my show last night are not storytellers, they are just people with great stories and I want to magnify their voices. I worked with them on their stories to craft them into a narrative that works. They had something important to share, and it needed to be heard. I am so excited. I want to start a podcast. I am a former newspaper reporter, so I have a knack for finding good stories. I know that I will never run out of stories on Long Island. I want to start a podcast for LI stories. There are so many stories to be heard. I also want to consult with businesses on how to tell their Story. Storytelling for business especially non-profits is a power tool for messaging. Organizations realize that in order to cut through the clutter you have to have a compelling message and story. I am going to a conference in a few weeks. I will be working with people who work in communications for non-profits. I will be talking about the power of stories in business and especially with non-profits. To be successful you need a compelling story. People connect to stories and that in itself is a powerful tool.

As I think about last night, and the theme, Through the Eyes of A Child. We had these different people, from different walks of life, some diversity in the room, but the common thread was that we have all experienced a childhood, we have all experienced pain or trauma in our lives, growing pains, personal family angst, that’s what connects us. We are much more alike then we think we are, I was really fascinated by hearing the storytellers. Taking us on a journey back to their childhoods, this was my experience and this is who I am because of it. I am sharing this with you.

Exactly, there was also a vulnerability, that the storytellers showed last night which drew the audience in.

What is the impact that you want to have?

I am still trying to figure this out. I want to continue to teach storytelling and producing shows, helping others find their voices and helping them to be heard. I love finding the storytellers and helping them craft their message and having it touch people. I would love to do that for non-profit organizations

there is a quote by a poet I like, Sahib Naiah

“You can reject peoples politics, You can reject their religion but you cannot reject their stories”

That’s why I do not get political, this is about human to human connection and what we have in common, not what tears us apart. We hear enough about what tears us apart.

We have to focus on how we are connected. Every business can leverage storytelling.

There is neuroscientist Dr. Paul Zaks. He has studied the effects of storytelling on the brain. What he found is that when someone is telling a compelling true story, showing vulnerability and authenticity, keeping you on the edge of their seats, it activates a neurochemical in the brain, oxytocin. Once this chemical is released you start to feel what the storyteller is feeling and you are more apt to take the action the storyteller wants you to take, you start to develops trust. It is often called the love hormone, the trust hormone. Storytelling does that.

What impact has this had on you?

It has given me a voice, I was a drug addict and alcoholic in my youth. I am 56 now, Up to the age 25, I made a mess of my life. It took many years to repair that. For many years I was ashamed. They teach you in the program that you are not a bad person getting good, you are a sick person getting well. For a lot of years, I was ashamed and upset at what I had done. Once I got into storytelling, I was like Oh my God these are stories I can tell these. Once I had the advantage of time I can now see how these life events have shaped me today. It helped me get over the bad feelings and guilt.

Is it cathartic?

Very cathartic, also I am a performer, so when I feel that I have the audience in my hands, and I am bringing them on a journey through my life and they can relate, it is an incredible feeling. I feel that I can take them on a journey. That is a powerful experience.

Last night when you were telling your story, about summers at your grandmothers, with all of the characters, I was transported, I could see where you were, I could feel the way the air felt, I was there with you. For me it was a simple way to relax and enjoy, just listen. That in Itself was calming.

I think anytime I tell a story about something that affected me its always something that is universal. We all had fears and insecurities and issues with our mothers every one can relate to that and eventually finding a safe haven.

What I have I know, especially after attending the evening of storytelling, is that stories connect us, like a spun thread weaving between us all.

Tracey Segarra is a Storyteller, a Speaker and a Consultant. For information about Tracey’s upcoming storytelling events or seminars, go to traceysegarra.com.

Gorillaz Gone Ape In the Barclays

Closing in on the colossal stadium, in the now metropolitan, which is Fort Greene, lies the Barclay’s Center.  The Barclays Center is certainly a circus of lights, advertisement and a certain glint of “New York” spirit. Whether it is the most out of place Roc-A-Wear clothing store or extremely lit (with actual lights) subway entrance to guarantee that you’ve definitely made it to your destination the Brooklyn way. Making my way into the colosseum in the city there’s a brief halt to the glamour and glitter while being checked in through the short security section. The lobby area is nothing special, especially when comparing to the light show that’s going on outside. Once past all the meekness of entering the tunnel to get to your seat, lies vendor after vendor serving decadent meals and frosty cold beers. The homage train car near the exclusive “American Express” entryway isn’t lost on this New York however, it does serve as a cool separation for the haves and the people who are actually riding the train.

Gorillaz Gone Ape You Me NYC(Image Courtesy of New York City Theater)

The Internet was a sublime opener for those previously unaware of the group. With a cocktail mix of R&B, hip-hop, funk and electronic they served as the perfect amuse-bouche to the audience. Even though there were a number of seats still being filled in, the waiting crowd was vibing to the beats.

Anticipation wore heavy on me wondering with questions of what form the band would appear in for the show. Previously known for concealing their identity with some groovy animations or using their silhouettes, the band storms on stage with a wild energy. Their outfits matching the presence of their music, electrical and eclectic.  All except for the frontman of the band, David Albarn’s character 2-D, represents a similarly grungy, laid back, cigarette ashing on my washed out black T-Shirt vibe. The other members performing as the backup in some radical bright patterns and eye-catching colors, like the animated videos in the background showing the remaining animated members of the band.

Gorillaz Gone Ape You Me NYC(Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan)

The first song bringing the band on stage “M1 A1” screams out an ominous call for help, behind a building guitar riff which is reminiscent of early guitar hero strumming that breaks into an electrifying brit rock anthem. It was an excellent way to start and rile up the crowd after a comparatively calm band like The Internet.

Followed up by ‘Tranz’ a trancey toon with an animated video of the nonhuman portion performing, gives a feel of what some of the first songs put out by the band.  There is more of a rock influence backing the track.  ‘Last Living Souls’ was next up using a beat machine.  David Albarn introduces a tougher hip-hop beat while the song sings out questioning the humanity of people while alternating between beats and a country-like ballad.  This song shows how the band can seamlessly incorporate different genres.

The band coasts through “Rhinestone Eyes” a softer melody before getting into the far creepier “Saturn Barz” featuring Popcaan. The song is dark visually and linguistically.  Popcaan sings through some of the painful realities of his life growing up in Jamaica, to a contrastingly creepy electronic rhythm. The electronic presence of the group, likely wouldn’t have translated as well without the harmonious background cast of all black singers. There, a solo by a spectacular talent that was especially appreciated by the audience.

Other highlights of their epically extravagant set include a variety of guest stars including De La Soul, Peven Everett, Bootie Brown and a Brooklyn native Mos Def. The experience was a definite separation from a typical concert experience with well-choreographed animated videos, to bring clarity to the lyrics that are usually far more serious than their sometime’s pop-punky backtracks. Towards the end of the show, most of the sparsity in the crowd was filled with standing fans singing along. This being a more personable performance for the band, it only leaves us fans anticipating what the transformative group has ahead of them.

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

The chickens have come home to roost and I love every minute of it.  We all know, the “Yellow Cab” industry had quite the monopoly in New York City for years and now it is crumbling.  It was almost impossible to get a cab to take you out of the city a few years ago.  Hailing a cab and taking it to Harlem was out of the question.  The farthest I would get is east 96th street, along with a constant scrutinizing eye on me, from the cab driver, as we made our trek uptown.  Let’s not forget the appalling treatment of the African American and other minority communities as well.Chickens Coming Home to Roost You Me NYCThe chickens have come home to roost now that the rideshare game is in full force.  What amazes me more than anything else, is that instead of coming up with an innovative way to combat the rideshare industry, the medallion owners cry “foul”.  What a bunch of crap, they went and cried to mommy(New York City Council), that they can’t compete.  So what does mommy do, they cap the number of rideshare vehicles for one year and require that drivers be paid a minimum wage as well.

I am all for drivers getting paid a consistent wage and getting paid more.  Driving on the road 8-12 hours a day is a tough gig.  “Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.  I couldn’t disagree more with this statement.  What does ride-share have to do with driving working “New Yorkers” into poverty.  Funny, I thought “Gentrification” is what is driving working “New Yorkers” into poverty.

Gridlock, rideshare is the cause of that too, according to our mayor.  Forget about the fact that almost every street in the city is under construction with lane closures.  What about everywhere you look there is a new luxury building going up?  How many more glass atrocities do we need in the city?

Conclusion

What’s funny about rideshare is that we have already been doing it.  Brooklyn, and all the other boroughs established the “Dollar Van”.  I can’t speak for Staten Island, I have no clue what they did or how they take a cab to that borough.  The “Dollar Van” has been and currently is the equalizer to the “Yellow Cab” industry.

I was in a “Yellow Cab” this morning and it was the usual.  The cab stunk, the driver had a piss-poor attitude and of course he didn’t want to leave the city.  He better remember something, Uber and Lyft drivers have no problem leaving the city.  I have no problem replacing the “Yellow Cab” with a nice, comfortable and enjoyable ride with one of the many rideshare apps at my disposal.  “Yellow Cabs” are a part of New York City history, however it’s a part I don’t mind saying goodby too.

The Painted Lady Suite

The Painted Lady Suite is the debut album by the Michael Leonhart Orchestra (MLO).  Inspired by the incredible 9 thousand mile migration of the the “Painted Lady” butterfly. This suite is broken into two parts with seven movements.  Each part represents, two separate journeys of the “Painted Lady” butterfly. One journey is over North America to Canada.  The other from the Arctic Circle over Europe to North Africa.  Additionally, this compilation also contains three earlier pieces composed by Leonhart specifically for MLO. Michael Leonhart Orchestra The Painted Lady Suite You Me NYCFirst, is the additional track “In the Kingdom of MQ”.  A cool march , with a stimulating solo by tenor sax player Donny McCaslin. “In the Kingdom of MQ” is dedicated to Leonhart’s younger son Milo.  Portraying his son’s confident steps from toddler-hood to the joyful discoveries of being a young boy.   Next,” Music Your Grandparents Would Like” is what fusion is all about.  A “big band” swing with a rock feel, guitarist Nels Cline delivers a solo which Zappa would appreciate.  Thirdly the piece, “The Girl From Udaipur” depicts a family trip to India.  The baritone sax solos of Ian Hendrickson-Smith and Jay Leonhart bring this album to a chilling close.

First of all, I love this album because each song delivers a taste of the classical masters, such as Ravel and Stravinski.  If you are familiar with “Bolero” by Ravel, you can definitely recognize his influence in a lot of the music on this album.  Furthermore, you can also hear the influence of rock guitar legends Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix on this album as well.  Finally, the glue holding this album together is the style of Miles Davis and Quincy Jones.

Conclusion:

This is a definite “add” to your collection.  This album is perfect for any mood, therefore a must have for all Jazz aficionados.  Additionally, the progress and evolution of MLO parallels the journey of the “Painted Lady” butterfly.  Hence the creation of “The Painted Lady Suite”, which really hits home.  More importantly, this album is an illustration of a blend of genres that work well together.  “Painted Lady Suite” is solid, however the three additional tracks are what really make this album exceptional.

Ethiopian Gold Queen of Sheba NYC

Queen of Sheba, is an Ethiopian restaurant, that is a true treasure.  Right in the heart of “Hell’s Kitchen” New York City, is where you can find this gem.  As I walk through the door, the place is full.  Then again why wouldn’t it be, I am never disappointed when I come here.

Let’s get down to business.  I sat at a table and looked over the menu which I know inside and out.  However, Queen of Sheba will make a subtle change every once an a while.  Lentil “Sambousas” are my favorite appetizers.  Queen of Sheba cooked up these delicious dough packets to perfection.  This is an excellent way to start off a meal.

Next, for my main course, the “Doro Tibs” is what I ordered along with the “Taste of Sheba”.  The “Doro Tibs” is sliced chicken breast marinated in onions, olive oil, rosemary-jalapeno, with a touch of Chardonnay.  I am almost positive that there are some secret spices in the mix as well.  The “Taste of Sheba” is a sample platter that includes a mouthwatering taste of 8 items.  There are too many to list.  The sliced chicken breast was succulent.  The “Taste of Sheba” was delicious.  Adding a glass of delectable honey wine is the perfect compliment to this exquisite meal.

Aside form the good food, my readers know service is just as important as the meal to me.  Queen of Sheba’s service is impeccable and also very accommodating.  I normally don’t place too much emphasis on decor.  However Queen of Sheba’s setup takes you back to Ethiopia.  They arrange the seating, to heighten a sense of community, therefore making me feel like I am eating and enjoying with everyone in the restaurant.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a charming restaurant with a  neighborhood feel to it, then Queen of Sheba is the right choice.  Whether you are by yourself or with a group, Queen of Sheba will satisfy your palette for delicious food and enjoyable company.  Make sure you tell them Dave Jacobs sent you.

Queen of Sheba You Me NYC

Location:

650 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Between 45th & 46th Streets

 

 

Post NYC

“Post” is a place I have never been to before and it is not on my normal breakfast circuit.  I received this tip from one of our readers so I made my way over there, to check it out.  Referrals are always welcome.

When I walked through the door, I observed an intimately set counter.  There is also a small counter at the window for that outside feel.  This is an establishment that takes great pride in presentation.  Each space has its’ own bottle of ice-water and a place setting welcoming to anyone.

Post NYC You Me NYC

Immediately, I was greeted by a server behind the counter and was told to have a seat anywhere.  I take my seat at the counter and peruse the menu.  Before I can make up my mind the recommendation was “Biscuits and Gravy”.  “Wonderful, with a cup of coffee” was my response.  That is the first time in a long time, I went with a suggestion from a new place.Post NYC You Me NYCMy meal arrived within a few minutes, a nice healthy portion topped with an egg.  My first bite to the last, each was better than the one before.  I have to admit, I killed that meal within minutes.  All I have to say is “delicious” along with the coffee.  The biscuits are homemade and so is the chicken sausage in the white gravy, the taste proves that.

When the server came back to check on me, he laughed at how fast I devoured my meal.  I started to converse with him and found out that they are relatively new.  They have been open for a little more than a year.  Now everyone knows I am all about breakfast and really don’t care for brunch.  “Post” has a brunch so for the brunch culture in this city of ours, come out and enjoy.

“Post” also does lunch, dinner and has a “chill” nightlife vibe according to the server.  I let him know I would be back for dinner and engage in some after diner activity.

Post NYC
42 Ave B
New York NY, 10009