– NYC 2 -Smalls- Bicycles


In my previous blog I was talking about my excitement when visited New York for the first time. But why did I wanted to visit NYC in the first place? Yes, there are movies … There is “Sex And The City ” ( haha, already got the feeling you are judging me! ) … But there is an image build around this “best city in the world” … But why ? So many people out there dreams about it and loves it for totally different reasons … Skyscrapers … Movies … Never sleeping city … Career opportunities … And so on…
And then there is this minority of people… Those few… Who actually still likes jazz….
( sad so sad… it’s true…. There are still people out there who doesnt know who Miles is… And not to mention to have heard of Chris Potter… )
But to me and us … NYC is a dream place exactly because of that “minority thing”. Place where Jazz lives ( and in a way was born too… But that part maybe isnt really true..) …
It’s the place where it all started and where it’s starting now again and again and changing, from one jazz movement to other … where most of the biggest jazz heroes of our time are living. Where you can catch some of your favourite jazz musicians in the small jazz club together with 10 other people in the room . And possibly sit 1 meter away from some of your fav guitarists, watching closely their fingers and “stealing jazz licks” so to say …
So I arrived to NYC that day… Visited Time square , also because it was on the way … Ate overpriced food and took Uber cab to my hotel not too far from Central Park .
That same day I knew I didn’t want to waste time and I simply needed to go straight to one of the main reasons for NYC visit . Jazz club Smalls . Somehow to me it seems like current hotspot for contemporary jazz scene ( I’m not the only one…). For new movements in jazz. It seems to be place where most of the current leading young jazz musicians have been “discovered” in a way .
There are few musicians I wanted to see first … And one of them happen to play that day at Smalls ( he plays there quite often it seems). It’s a drummer Ari Hoenig. Polyrhythm King and composer. He also often plays with one of my recent fav guitarists Gilad Hekselman .
So that evening I m heading to Smalls …. Building up my excitement… etc. etc……. and then! Place is “sold out” !! I didn’t get in !! Ehh 😦 Disappointed of course , I was heading back to hotel … later in days I discovered that this doesn’t happen that often! Apparently it was to do with it being Saturday. They have a weird rule – first Come first serve . You can’t buy tickets online, you just need to arrive early… Before heading back I did visit “Fat cat”. It’s a venue for young jazz musicians to jam in. Quite well known in the jazz community as well. It was packed that day. Kinda nasty place. With loads of pool tables. And kinda bad sound. Can’t really hear piano. Vibe wise reminded me of Uncle Sams ( Haggerston) – it’s a place I used to love in London. Happens every Sunday late late night. Used to go there religiously. Even though lived quite far from it. But that’s London… People always compare things to what they know… I don’t compare stuff with Latvia no more. London is my home.
Anyways … NYC trip….
I headed back home that day after a little sneak in the Fat Cat. I wasn’t in love with that place, but I didn’t mind it either. I had some fun times there after a week or so. But not that day. That day I only visited for a moment. It was like a “tick” – been there, done that. However I didn’t feel like staying too long.
Next day
I discovered that one of jam sessions is happening that day just 10 min walk away from my hotel. Since of last nights dissapointment, I decided to visit the place and have a play. Also because I didn’t have to travel far etc. It was Cleopatras Needle. Nice place. But jamming isn’t something I enjoy no more. After running my jam weekly for 4 years or so, I don’t really see jams as a serious thing. Plus I would rather play with guys I pick to play with, not some random players. I mean, yeah, level was alright. But it’s not always about the level. It’s about direction, taste and musicianship and so many things, that you can’t achieve in jam. I believe not even the best player can. One of the gigs I saw that week was something that reached high levels and the reasons wasn’t because guys where great. But because they played together a lot, because they knew each other musically so well. Because they all had similar musical influences (and/or taste) and the same direction in music. That made that gig highest musicianship point I have seen/heard in months and maybe years. ( no, impossible to get there in jam… Jam is just a jam… ) I will speak of it later…

Not jazz stuff…

I rented bicycles many days. It’s a weird thing, you pay for a day or 3 days, but you need to get new bicycle every 30min. Ridiculous! It works on app and I can see nearest bike points all the time and also how many minutes I have been riding. But it sucks if phone battery runs out. The other day I was cycling around, near the river, passing by Trump buildings ( that was before he was elected… and it all still seemed as not possible to be happening, as well as ‘nightmare” that still hasn’t happened… But it did! In fact, few days to week from the moment I am writing this Trump got elected… ) Anyways, I was cycling by his buildings and just by the river, hoping to reach Brooklyn Bridge. Mainly because that is one of those things you want to see/cross in New York. But my battery was starting to run out and I had to take metro to head back to my hotel, because cycling was happening only with a help form app on my iphone… Should have taken the charger with me, what I did all the other times.. But oh well. Life is life. Ups and downs. Still had a nice ride by the river!
Also visited the Central park. And again a little dissapointment. The nice lake or whatever that is, it’s not allowed to go there with bike! Why? So I didn’t get to enjoy park to it’s fullest. As I wanted to cycle around not walk around…
It was cool to cycle back in the nights from jazz venues as well. It’s all quiet and less cars and more nicer rides!
I bump into latvian girl who is a singer and studies in Graz, Austria. She was visiting Smalls too with her boyfriend ( I assumed) trumpet player. That’s when I checked Ari Hoenig finally. He was playing with some other guys, that seemed to be less modern and less experimental and less polyrhythmic good than him.. So the gig wasnt my fav. Even though when I saw Ari with his band and Gilad , it was the very best best I have seen … The same one I mentioned earlier…
The jazz music scene all over the world is quite small. Easy to bump into people you know even in NYC. It happened other days too. When Laurie joined me in Nyc, we had a hang with some 5-10 british musicians at the Fat Cat. Everyone just end up hanging out in NYC sooner or later…
ok folks..
more about NYC in my next blog post…
follow me if interested…
( previous blog post here )


  1. Came to this post after your comment on one of my IG posts, checked your site, some of your videos, talent and passion are pretty obvious!

    Smalls would also be ONE of the reasons to travel to NYC – having lost Ari and Gilad playing there together was terrible!
    I watched their gig streaming live from Smalls by then, anyhow here’s a link to a video (maybe you have already watched it) of their gig – Rick Rosato and Shai Maestro are in it as well – a fantastic quartet, no wonder the place was sold out!



    Liked by 1 person

    • i actually just missed out on Ari that day only. He actually played at smalls quite often. at least few times a week when i was in nyc. I saw him playing at smalls 2 times after that disapointing time. and one of those times was with Gilad. and that was one of the best gigs i have seen in general! it was only sold out because it was weekend though, other times it wasn’t that way 🙂 thanks for the comment! will check the link

      Liked by 1 person

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