I’m a charter member of two series at the 92nd Street Y - that’s in New York, of course. As far as I’m concerned there’s no other place like it. It’s a world-class cultural and community center where people all over the world connect through arts, entertainment, and conversation. Last month I attended “Lyrics and Lyricists.” It was a pleasure to hear song book classics like “As Time Goes By,” “You’ll Never Know,” and “Chattanooga Choo-choo.” Whoop-de-doo! Thirty songs were given star treatment. Since I was familiar with most of them it was hard to sit still. I toe-tapped like crazy. Importantly, Sheldon Harnick, a lyricist who wrote “Fiddler on the Roof” among many others, was writer and host. He introduced each number with information, style, and grace. This month at the Y is titled “Jazz in July” headed by Bill Charlap, artistic director and fabulous pianist. There are six sizzling programs presented by jazz’s biggest artists during the summer’s nights including many of the finest musicians from my Jersey Jazz days when I wrote a monthly column for their magazine. If you go to “Jazz in July” you’ll be treated to the finest musicians playing jazz in pop style. From July 18 to 27 there will be a Cole Porter program and one about Louis Armstrong (what a wonderful world!). So, I repeat, I don’t know of any other place like the 92nd Street Y. It’s summer’s hottest nights with jazz’s finest artists. Perhaps I’ll see you there. Well, if you think this sounds like a commercial, I guess you’re right!
My adult children were all excited. They had been to a Tom Petty show. So, in my total ignorance I asked my son, Andy, who is an executive at Live Nation, who and what is Tom Petty. Andy knew enough about the man to fill an encyclopedia. Born in 1950, Petty is a musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He is best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. The talented entertainer has recorded a number of hit singles with The Heartbreakers. As a solo artist his music has been classified as Rock and Roll and Heartland Rock. Gosh, I didn’t know that. I suppose it’s because Petty has become popular mostly among the younger generation. Andy and his friends recently enjoyed celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Tom Petty and his band, The Heartbreakers, in Hartford, Connecticut. A new song was a chugging rocker and Andy told me that both “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Falling” had fans in a full-throated sing along. How could I have missed this talent! He’s been associated with many that I know and enjoy: Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Prince, and Johnny Cash among others. Unlike me, Andy and his friends didn’t mind even being caught in a snarl of traffic coming into Hartford. He and his entourage felt it was all worthwhile just to see and enjoy Petty’s vocals and dazzling guitar work. They were fans who felt it worth their time to see and hear this best-selling music artist who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame some fifteen years ago. His many loyal fans think it’s well spent time whenever they can see and hear him. If that’s not possible, they continue to buy his music. He has sold more than 80,000,000 records worldwide. It’s amazing – the interesting things I continue to learn from my son!
The first time I was exposed to the musical genius of Diana Krall was in August 2000 when she was the opening act for Tony Bennett. Amazing! I must admit that I was thrilled -- thrilled by her piano arrangements, her voice, and her command with her talented group. Since then I have listened to her records, tried to see her in person, and quite recently was glad that she has returned to what is for me familiar territory of the American Songbook standards. I’ll name just a few: “Blue Skies,” “Night and Day,” and “Dream.” All the songs she plays are favorites of mine and to hear the jazz star’s interpretation is a real treat. At one point when Krall married one of the sharpest and most urbane of rock stars, Elvis Costello, I got worried. This man is one of the great songwriters around. Happily, as a performer, at times he has dabbled in Songbook standards. He’s even collaborated with his wife on albums and occasionally shows up on stage at her gigs. Krall has won all kinds of awards but importantly she has done something that I relate to — and you won’t guess what. It has nothing to do with music. She and Costello have become parents. The artist with the cool and sultry voice gave birth to twin boys now ten years old. Of course I am partial to twins since my two granddaughters, both twenty-five years old, are fraternal twins. I watched each step as they grew up. Both talented in different fields, I followed their progress and I’m so happy to see them both successful in careers they love. Now if Ms Krall and Mr. Costello can do as great a job with their twins they can look forward to many joys.
You can e-mail June Sturz at email@example.com.