Monday, November 16th,, was a very special black-tie evening for the elegantly dressed crowd who rode the elevator to the 5th floor of the Time Warner Center to attend Jazz at Lincoln Center’s festive 2009 Fall Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall. Thanks to a generous contribution by Agvar Chemicals Inc., the fund raiser exceeded its goals by raising more than more than $2 million, which will benefit thousands of performance, education and broadcast events Jazz at Lincoln Center produces every year.
Board member, author and historian Albert Murray was the evening’s guest of honor as Patricia Blanchet and Chairman of the Board Lisa Schiff presented him with the third annual Ed Bradley Award for Leadership. Murray who put his concept of literature in the blues idiom into practice with his novel “Train Whistle Guitar” is the author of 16 books which have had a profound impact on thoughts about the Afro-American experience, confronting what he called “the folklore of supremacy and the fake lore of black pathology”. .white
Following the presentation, Schiff announced that Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum selling five time Grammy nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook”, had been appointed Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new Director of Popular Song Series, which will begin in the 2010-11 concert series.
The concert audience of 1,000 guests included many high profile patrons of the arts, publishers, politicians and entertainers such as: New York City Board Chairman Lisa Schiff and David Schiff, Executive Director Adrian Ellis, Mayor Cory Booker, Barbara Carroll, Peggy and Gordon J. Davis, Mica Ertegun, Gayle King, Dina Merrill, Casey Ribicoff, Susan and Jack Rudin, Daisy and Paul Soros, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch and more.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis kicked off the gala concert, a salute to the music of Frank Sinatra, with classics “It's Only a Paper Moon” and “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” Marsalis, the organization’s Artistic Director, welcomed the audience, thanking them for their support. He spoke on Frank Sinatra’s jazz-inflected style and being so knowledgeable that the singer hired Duke Ellington as A&R of Reprise records.
After a video clip of Sinatra and Diahann Carroll’s most memorable television appearance was shown on a huge screen, Carroll, glamorously clad in a black and white Bob Mackie dress, took center stage to perform a medley of tunes which included: "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Strangers in the Night," "High Hopes" and "New York." Diahann, the consummate entertainer, Tony and Golden Globe Winner, Emmy and Grammy nominee . . . and the first black woman to star in her own television series, captivated the audience as she reminisced about days with Sinatra, her singing partner and close friend.
Carroll then introduced premiere interpreter of American song, Michael Feinstein, and the two captivated the audience with a duet of “Where or When.”
After Carroll left the stage to a standing ovation, Michael Feinstein shared personal stories and anecdotes about Sinatra. Feinstein and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra then performed swinging renditions of tunes Sinatra made famous including “Luck Be a Lady,” “I Thought About You” and “Begin The Beguine.”
Following the moving and nostalgic tribute to “Sinatra, the chairman”, over 800 gala guests and concert artists sipped flutes of champagne as they moved from Rose Hall into the Atrium and Allen Rooms to continue a truly memorable Jazz at Lincoln Center evening.
Inspired by the cuisine and aesthetic of Italy, David Beahm created a rustic yet elegant décor with bread basket centerpieces that were filled with fragrant herbs, baby artichokes and seasonal flowers; red crystal chandeliers adorned both dining spaces. The gala dinner menu by Great Performances included: antipasto salad and organic greens appetizers and entrees of braised lamb osso buco, butternut squash ravioli, roasted carrots and swiss chard; the sounds of David Berger and the Sultans of Swing provided upbeat dinner entertainment.
It was truly a heart felt evening, one Sinatra would have crooned to be part of; old “blue eyes” was missed, but remembered and feted by all.
For more information and a schedule of upcoming Jazz at Lincoln Center events: go to: www.jalc.org
Not to be missed: The Music of Gillespie & Puente, Jan. 15-16