Great start to the tour! After about 7 hours sleep it was up and to the gym for a quick workout before a leisurely walk to Times Square and back (it was a thrill to meet Elmo. We met the group at the Crooked Knife across from the hotel for our meet and greet dinner. Burger was tremendous! Everyone mingled, got to know each other etc. We had some time to kill before meeting in the lobby at 800. It was off to The Allen Room @ JALC for the Tenor Masters. Joe Lovano, Bennie Maupin and Benny Golson with Kenny Barron – piano, George Mraz – bass and Lewis Nash – drums. For me the rhythm section was the highlight. This show left me very cold on a number of levels. There were some great moments but it was too long and the programming in my opinion was a bit odd. In any event it was an incredible venue and the were some great moments! After the 2 hour show we were running massively late for SMOKE but they held the show for us and we arrived to a packed house and pianist HAROLD MABERN ready to rip. He sounded so amazing. John Webber on bass was on fire as usual and LOUIS HAYES (see picture) on drums was . Met some old friends there to: organist Seleno Clark, alto saxophonist Mike DiRUbbo who sat in on MY FAVORITE THINGS, tenor saxophonist Todd Herbert who also sat in on that tune and pianist Peter Zak. I had a great talk with SMOKE co-owner Frank Wright.
The late night set was performed by singer/pianist JOHNNY O’NEAL and his trio. He was absolutely phenomenal. We hadn’t planned on staying but we stayed for his whole set that lasted until 3:30 AM. The whole group pretty much stayed as well which was cool. Im bringing this to The Cellar for sure! It was a great way to end night 1 of New York With Weeds!