New York, part 2

And now, part two of the New York trip.
On Friday — after that amazing dinner on Thursday night — AEJ and I stopped by one of the early rehearsals of the National Wind Ensemble. Their concert on Memorial Day was the reason I was in New York that week — to work with H. Robert Reynolds and the group — and although I wasn’t officially working with them until Saturday morning, we stopped by to say hello on Friday. Here’s H. Bob rehearsing the group.

And here’s another shot.

After rehearsal, AEJ, Newman, Melissa, H. Bob, his daughter Kirsten, and I headed up to the top floor of the Hilton for a drink. After cocktail time, Newman, Melissa, AEJ and I headed to dinner at one of my favorite places in NY, Artisanal. We had delicious cheese fondue, followed by our usual main course, Chicken Cooked Under a Brick. This sauce : yum.

And here’s another shot, with that super-creamy French butter on the background. Nothin’ beats European butter. If you tell me otherwise, you’re a commie.

We ended dinner with chocolate fondue, then headed back to Jonathan & Melissa’s place. AEJ got up at the crack of dawn the next morning to fly to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands for a family vacation. I stayed in NY to “work,” and headed to the Hilton for my first official rehearsal with the National Wind Ensemble. The group sounded great from the beginning, and I knew it was going to be a fantastic couple of days.

One of the pieces on the program was “Fanfare: Chronicles 13:8” by a young composer named James Territo. (I say young because he’s, like, 5 years younger than I am.) Jim is a high school band conductor in Detroit. Being both a composer and a conductor, H. Bob asked Jim if he’d like to rehearse the band for a few minutes on his piece. Jim took the podium, and his energy and enthusiasm totally lit up the band.

It was a blast watching Jim work with the students, and he packed enough adrenaline into those 10 minutes to last the band far beyond Monday’s concert. It’s hard to tell from the size of this picture, but H. Bob, on the far right, loved it, too.

That night, I walked to the Upper East Side for pizza at my favorite Manhattan pizza place, Giorgio’s.

I’d been playing phone tag with my friend and frequent collaborator, choreographer Robert Battle (with whom I wrote Juba, Strange Humors, Damn, Rush Hour, Breakdown Tango, Mass, and others), for about three days. We finally connected after dinner, and headed out for a drink, ’cause that’s what Robert and I do best: cocktail time.
Robert has enormous hands.

Next to the hotel, a huge crew was shooting “Spiderman 3” all weekend.

You’ll just have to take my word for it, but that tiny red figure in the center of this picture is Spiderman.

And here, parked on 53rd Street, is the delivery truck for The Daily Bugle — with no Peter Parker anywhere in sight.

Sunday afternoon, Jonathan and Melissa picked me up at the hotel and we headed to a big nature preserve in Queens. Here’s the incredibly welcoming Visitor Center.

And here, kids, is what poison ivy looks like.

Yes, we may have been in the middle of nature, but that doesn’t mean I leave business back at the hotel. No, sir. I believe in this shot, I’m saying into my cell phone, “You’re breakin’ my balls, Gary. You know, I’m just like the fetuses, Gary. I wasn’t born yesterday, either. Uh huh. Breakin’ my balls, Gary. How about ten and a quarter? …Balls, Gary. Breakin’ ’em.” (If you get that reference, you get a sticker.)

Goose crossing!

After walking through nature — within eye-shot of JFK — we headed to Brooklyn to have dinner at Junior’s. Newman and I share a love of pickled beets. (Maybe I’ll write a piece called “Pickled Beats.” I suspect that Montoya will beat me to it.)

Who’s a happy guy? That’s right, it’s Newman, with his Brisket Melt sandwich — brisket on garlic bread with sauteed onions, muenster cheese, and French fries.

Melissa went a little lighter, with the biggest reuben I’ve ever seen.

And I went for something called “Something Different,” beef brisket between two potato pancakes, served with au jus and apple sauce.

We were too stuffed right then for Junior’s famous cheesecake (as seen on QVC!), so we got one to go. Later that night, back at Newman’s, we found the strength to eat again. Mmm…

The next day — Monday, Memorial Day, the day of the concert — I stopped by Ruby Foo’s for sushi. Spicy tuna roll and eel sushi. Best spicy tuna roll anywhere.

After lunch, I headed to Carnegie Hall for the dress rehearsal. Back stage, here’s somebody trying to play a contrabassoon for the first time. Have you ever heard somebody play contrabassoon for the first time? It’s a lovely sound.

Here’s the poster, outside of Carnegie.

And here’s the hall, about 30 minutes before the concert. There were probably a good 2000 people at the concert.

And here’s H. Robert Reynolds conducting Redline Tango at Carnegie Hall. Wow, it was a great performance. Bob takes full advantage of all of the contrasts in the piece, and it makes all the difference. This was up there with the best Redline Tango performances — and the hall wasn’t too bad, either!

The concert also included the best high school band I’ve ever heard, the Logan High School Wind Ensemble of Union City, California, conducted by Ramiro Barrera. Ramiro is one of the consortium members of the piece I’m currently writing, and now I feel like I can write just about anything for his group.

So, that was New York — my first trip back since moving to LA in September. It was great to be back, and I’d definitely missed it, and missed my friends there, but Southern California is, to me, a nicer place to live. The weather, the amount of living space — all it’s really missing are my friends back in NY. I hear that Steve Bryant is considering moving to LA in 2007. Now I just need to convince Robert, Jonathan, Melissa, Damien, and a bunch of others.
It’ll be a challenge, especially with Newman and Damien, but I’m willing to make whatever sacrifices it requires.


Kevin Howlett says

"Maybe I'll write a piece called "Pickled Beats." (I suspect that Montoya will beat me to it.)"

Ask Matt Schoendorff about "Canned Beats" sometime. My take on it is that it's either a) a band that doesn't exist yet that I need to be in, or b) a piece that hasn't been written yet that I need compose. Or he needs to compose. Or Montoya needs to compose.

No matter what "Canned Beats" actually is, everyone is in agreement that I came up with the title.

R says

When do I get my sticker? You know that I know where that reference is from. Whats up with that vistior center? When I saw the picture I thought to myself "Why is John visiting a jail?" It was great seeing you guys last week.

Newman says

I'd like to point out the small white bowl in your pic of my gorgeous Junior's Brisket Melt. Where'd all the pickled beets go?


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