Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chick Corea, Chom Chom, an 8-gallery spectacle at The Met & more ...

This past weekend (May 17th-18th) Jazz at Lincoln Center mounted a fete to NEA Jazz Master & 16-time Grammy award winner, Mr. Chick Corea. And well they should, as, according to one spot-on (anonymous) source, Chick Corea has attained "living legend status after four decades of unparalleled creativity and an artistic output that is simply staggering."

Friends of Chick Corea
And, what's more, Jazz at Lincoln Center seems to have devoted all of its resources (and two of its venues) to celebrating the inimitable Chick, in his capacity of composer, musician (pianist), and, well, "friend."  We were, in fact, on hand for the Saturday show (the 2nd, 9:30, show) at The Allen Room (a truly magical venue overlooking Columbus Circle) for the tribute entitled "Friends of Chick Corea: Musicians of the Future."

The concert featured two outstanding young jazz pianists - Beka Gochiashvilli (from Tbilisi, Georgia) & Gadi Lehavi (from Tel Aviv), both friends & proteges of Mr. Corea - as well as Ravi Coltrane (tenor sax), Wallace Roney (trumpet; & Miles Davis mentee), John Patitucci (bass) & Marcus Gilmore (on drums). A varied assortment of Chick's music was on display at this event, including a newly orchestrated selection from his "Three Quartets" album (1997).

Chick on Drums!
But, most memorable - and a true highlight of the  evening - was an appearance by Mr. Corea himself (having just concluded a set in the Rose Theater across the hall, with Wynton Marsalis & the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra) ... jumping around the Allen Room stage, bubbling with his inimitable energy, and enthusiastically promoting great good will among the attendant musicians & members of the concert audience amassed before him.

Seems everyone just had a grand time celebrating the musical "life" & work of this treasured virtuosic pianist-composer, and his decades long presence in & impact on the international jazz scene!

Chom Chom

Just prior to meandering a few blocks over to this Jazz at Lincoln Center event, we (two couples) took some time out for an opportunity to dine at Chom Chom (at 40 W. 56th, between 5th& 6th; tel. 212/213-2299), which offers what they (self-) identify as "modern" Korean cuisine. The food does, indeed, tend toward the modern (in N.Y. Korean terms), is varied in portion sizing & degree of spicy-ness, and tastes just wonderfully appealing throughout all reaches of a very extensive menu, including the small plates and those at the entree size. I might note, also, that the menu neatly divides into, roughly, 7 principal areas - salads; soups/stews; rice entrees; modern kapas (tapas, Korean-style); noodles; homemade dumplings; and dinner entrees. We sampled a batch of interestingly & delicately prepared items from the kapas section, from the rice & dinner entrees areas, as well as a plate of homemade ("handmade with love") shrimp dumplings from ... you know (now) what area of the Chom Chom menu.

Miso Black Cod
Perhaps our tastiest & most piquant dish proved to be the Kalbi Jjim, an entree composed of braised beef short ribs slowly simmered over low heat to a "tender & sweet finish" (@ $30).  We also very much enjoyed the extremely tender & succulent Miso Black Cod ... comprising pieces of miso-marinated black cod served with a red wine balsamic reduction ($15). 

Dolsot Bibimbap
Two other plates we all deemed memorable were the Dolsot Bibimbap ($17), a rice entree with sauteed seasoned vegetables cooked & served in a hot stone bowl, along with "house" chili pepper paste, topped with Bulgogi beef & a "sunny-side up" egg; and Asparagus Shitake ($10), a dish of lightly done asparagus & shitake mushrooms sauteed in a sweet soy reduction.

Two of us washed all of this food down with glasses of Soju Sangria, an infusion of fruits, red wine & traditional "soju" [a  Korean distilled beverage] ($10/glass), while the other two of us quaffed two bottles of a very flavorful lager-style Korean brew, OB Beer ($7), along with our portion of the dinner.

Indeed, Chom Chom provides a unique dining experience in a friendly, attentive & comfortable mid-town environment. If you're anywhere near 5th (or 6th) Avenue & anywhere in or around the west 50s - and have a hankering for (Asian) food in the growing Korean "modern" domain - I urge you to give this resto a try. If you do, and love it ... well, we'll just keep that our secret!

During the past few seasons, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 5th Ave., at 82nd St.) has curated several truly spectacular shows in the sector where art reflects fashion (couture) & fashion (couture) parallels and, sometimes, metamorphoses into art. 

Currently, "Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity," is just such a show, just such a spectacle, well worth a visit ... a must see that is ending, regrettably, next week. If you make your way to The Met soon, you will witness eight galleries replete with fabulous modernist/impressionist paintings, sculpture & fashion items, for example, that are well known (e.g., by Manet, Renoir, Degas) and others that are, simply, new to you.

"The Swing"
The notion - the point of view - that fashion is art, is reflected in art, or underlies certain themes & content of specific paintings, while not new at all ... is, again, spectacularly on view here in these 8 galleries, in numerous paintings, sculptures, photographs, fashion plates & assorted preserved period pieces (including everything from summer dresses for the park, to evening wear, to hats, scarves & accessories of all sorts, and even men's suits, shoes & les chapeaux).

The Black Dress
Summing up - according to The Met's online description of this show - you will see the major role that fashion played "in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries." You will explore "the vital relationship between fashion and art during the pivotal years, from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, when Paris emerged as the style capital of the world." And, finally, you will witness the celebrated writers & painters of the then current Parisian avant-garde (Monet, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Zola) as they "turned a fresh eye to contemporary dress, embracing la mode as the harbinger of la modernité."
By the way, before you leave the museum, you might want to rest your now weary legs for just a bit and sit down to have a look at Street (running through May 27th), a new & unique video by James Nares. Shooting with a camera from a car moving almost randomly throughout The City, at a remarkably scaled down pace, Mr. Nares explores the streets - and faces "peopling" the streets - of New York City, very literally, indeed.  

(If you should miss this idiosyncratic, 3-D-like video now showing at The Met, be on the lookout for Street to surface again; you can bet it will turn up soon at some other city venue.)

Federico Garcia Lorca
And, finally, if you have some spare time, an hour or so, and find yourself near The New York Public Library (The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 5th Ave. & 42nd St.), stop in to see the important new exhibit entitled "Back Tomorrow: Federico Garcia Lorca, Poet in New York" (through July 20th). 

Letter to His Sisters
Organized jointly by the Fundacion Federico Garcia Lorca, NYPL & Accion Cultural Espanola, this small but painstakingly curated exhibit on Lorca's 1929 nine-month visit to New York City (followed by three months lecturing in Havana) fully documents the period during which he composed Poet in New York, the unique collection of his poems inspired by New York City & published posthumously in 1940 after a long period of time missing ... "mysteriously disappeared, lost to scholars."

Lorca Self-Portrait w/Black Beast
Ostensibly in New York to study English at Columbia University, Garcia Lorca devoted his time to the creation of the poems that would, ultimately, comprise Poet in New York. The NYPL exhibit brings together, for the first time, an unusually complete compendium of drawings, photographs, letters, mementos, typescripts & manuscript pages, tracing the genesis of, & basis for, Poet in New York " ... and of New York in a poet." 

If you are in the area, visit NYPL (soon) and have at least a brief look at the life of the poet behind this masterful collection of poems!

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