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VIDEO: ‘Jazz Tuesdays’ turn Gillespie Auditorium into cozy club

Video Credit: YouTube

IN TUNE : If you haven’t already, head down to the Gillespie Auditorium in the Village for “Jazz Tuesdays,” where you can catch two different shows each week in an intimate setting. If tonight’s debut of Woody Herman alumnus Frank Perowsky’s 17-piece Big Band is too short notice, you can plan for another special occasion next Tuesday: Mike Longo’s Funk Band.

Longo (l.), Magnuson (second from right) PHOTO by LYNN PARET for CLIFFVIEW PILOT

Longo — Dizzy Gillespie’s former pianist and musical director — began presenting the weekly shows at 8 and 9:30 p.m. at the New York City Bahá’í Center on Jan. 6, 2004, the 10th anniversary of Dizzy’s death.

His funk band features, among others, saxophone player Bob Magnuson, a North Bergen native who performed with Mike last week in Longo’s New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble.

Lynn Paret

Perowsky — who is featured on the group’s “Oasis” (2004) performing his original “Song of my Dream” — played with the group last Tuesday. His big band tonight includes vocalists Niki King and Ira Hawkins, who helped make last Tuesday’s show so memorable, heading a version of “Masquerade” that drew cheers when Magnuson tore into a sax solo.

“Teach Me Tonight” was another highlight, thanks to the silky-voiced Hawkins. The song list was extensive, and the musicians eclectically talented, beginning with Magnuson, a personal friend. I knew Bob was good, but that‘s an understatement. The man is gifted.

The show went by so fast. Before you knew it, they were into “Lime House Blues” before closing with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” featuring Magnuson on flute.


In his previous life, Michael Josef Longo worked nine years as Gillespie’s pianist and musical director,  and then another 16 years on a part-time basis until Gillespie’s illness and death.

Longo has received countless accolades, including a scholarship from the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra in 1955, a Downbeat Hall of Fame Scholarship in 1959 and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1972. He’s recorded nearly 20 of his own albums and has contributed original tunes to at least 50 more.

He and his wife, Dorothy, have been the driving forces behind the Tuesday night soirees.

Magnuson has said he believes Gillespie would have considered the series special to its community: “To do anything in jazz is hard. Rents are high. No one wants to come out. No one wants to pay. There’s no alcohol and food here. For fifteen dollars, you get two sets. And you get community. We see faces of people who would never go to concerts come to this series. That was Dizzy.”

WHEN : Tuesdays , 8 and 9:30 p.m. Perowsky

WHERE : John Birks Gillespie Auditorium , 53 East 11th Stree t (between University Place & Broadway)

DOOR ADMISSION : $15 general, $10 students with ID.

INFO : 212-222-5159

NOTE : It’s a small auditorium, so plan to get there early. If the place fills fast, it’s OK: Even the back row is close eno ugh to the action.

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