JANUARY 24 at 7 pm: SAVE BIRDLAND
By Sandi Durell
Mention jazz in New York City and someone immediately says . . . “oh, you mean Birdland.” And I guess that pretty much sums up the definitive of the greatest jazz club started on December 15, 1949, by a small group of partners and named after Charlie “Bird” Parker, famous jazz saxophonist. Originally located at 1678 Broadway, it closed in 1965 because the rents were increased.
The Jazz Corner of the World eventually relocated to Broadway and 105th Street in 1986-1996 when Gianni Valenti took ownership in 1985, and in 1996 Valenti moved the club to its current location at 315 West 44th Street. It’s been home to the greatest jazz musicians in history and, in addition, to the crème de la crème of cabaret since, attracting visitors from around the world.
A few weeks back theater producer Tom d’Angora (recently responsible for helping restaurant/cabaret West Bank Café raise funds to pay bills and stay open), through the urging of Birdland talents Jim Caruso and Susie Mosher, came aboard and began a GoFundMe campaign to save Birdland. Thus far over $200,000 has been raised . . . not enough but here comes a major Virtual Concert on Sunday January 24 filled with stars including: Wynton Marsalis, Elvis Costello, Chita Rivera, Leslie Odom, Jr., Mandy Patinkin, Jeff Daniels, Clive Davis, Matthew Broderick, Ken Burns, Peter Cincotti, Giancarlo Esposito, Melissa Leo, Norm Lewis, Manhattan Transfer, Bebe Neuwirth, John Pizzarelli, Martha Plimpton, Randy Rainbow, Mercedes Ruehl, Catherine Russell, Billy Stritch and Veronica Swift. Former President and saxophone enthusiast Bill Clinton will be on board to add his thoughts.
Gianni Valenti had this to say to me – “I am so proud to to be a part of the music industry and it’s so heartwarming to see the outpouring of love and support the community has given to Birdland. It’s important that we stay the course and fight to keep live venues opened. New York is the music capital of the world and to lose live performances spaces here would be devastating not only to the city but around the country and the world.
We all need to help the venues , artists and staff members get through this dark period , there is light at the end of the tunnel and we will get there , stronger than ever. Music is who we are. Birdland will never close under my watch. “
Join in to Save Birdland: A Celebration of Music, History and Community that will stream for free at 7 pm on Sun. January 24, a virtual benefit concert . . . www.birdland.com