SMOOTH JAZZ ON A COLD AUTUMN’S NIGHT
Last night I went to the Cornelia Street Cafe with Gail Gerber, actress Angelica Torn starring off-Broadway in the acclaimed The Edge, and my partner Ernie DeLia for dinner and to catch acclaimed musician/composer David Amran’s last performance there for the year. With his 5 piece combo he did a tribute show to Jack Kerouac in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of On the Road. It was an ecletic night as in between some great music David enthralled the audience with stories of Greenwich Village in the late 50s and early 60s where he hung out with Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Terry Southern, etc.
A highlight of the show were the guest performers. John McEuen of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with his son Jonathan jammed on the group’s hit song “Mr. Bojangles.” Then in homage to the beat poetry jazz sessions of the 50s a few poets read their work but the most impressive was actor John Ventimiglia who played Artie Bucco on The Sopranos who intensely read from Kerouac’s novel.
Finally, Gail Gerber returned to the stage to read some of Kerouac’s poems and in her own typical scattered style had the audience in stitches. First, she reminded the crowd about The New York Public Library’s exhibition on Kerouac. She said, “I thought he was just another drunken writer. So I was surprised to learn that he was more than that.” Then after reading two short poems, she quipped, “Wow, this stuff is pretty good. I should read it some time.”