Charlie Haden is one of the jazz musicians featured in paintings by Italian artist Chioccia Tsarkova at Birdland.

Photo by Christine Tibbetts
CNHI News Service

New York City without Broadway? No musical show? Barbecue for lunch?

Great fun to skip the obvious in famous cities. Looking around the corners to see what else was happening suited me on a four-day jaunt in Manhattan.

Birdland on West 44th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues set the tone. It’s famous to jazz lovers, but I’d never been.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra were front and center my night.

Little did I know they were a nominee for Large Jazz Bands at the Grammy’s. Didn’t win but for me it was a special event to be in the audience of a nominee.

Personal, intimate place Birdland, with powerful music. Saxophone great Charlie Parker, nicknamed Bird, called this the “jazz corner of the world.”

Enjoy the art too—bold colors, stylized musicians in concert painted by Italian artist Chioccia Tsarkova.

I’d say put Birdland on your list for dinner and music next night you have in New York City.

Same pattern served me well going to the theater. “Freud’s Last Session” was my choice, Off Broadway: Dr. Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis having a conversation.

This strong interesting show is in New World Stages.

Fine discovery --- five small theaters in a former cinema. Mine seated 199. Two long flights of stairs here, so this could be a mobility challenge.

Little plaza with benches, chairs, tables and trees next door, lovely for a pre-show picnic in the spring.

Since New World Stages is on West 50th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, walking to and fro is a fine event. Dynamic neighborhoods.

Soup and sandwich was the right post-performance supper in an historic corner deli.

The Majestic has been serving New Yorkers for decades in this simple, unpretentious, brightly lighted setting.

Another way to approach New York is with a pass for one, two, three or seven days. Once activated the clock starts ticking so have a plan with the first use.

I opened mine to go to the Museum of Modern Art, an easy stroll from my Omni Berkshire Place Hotel.

MoMA is famous; I needed an unknown art surprise.

Took about a block to notice the Onassis Cultural Center: free and exceptional.

“Art of Late Antiquity” ends May 14 with 170 treasures from museums in Greece and Cyprus, plus the U.S., third to seventh century AD sculpture, mosaics, coins, paintings and jewelry.

And since this discovery is on Fifth Avenue between 51st and 52nd streets, it’s easy to pop into St. Patrick’s Cathedral too. Worship and art, splendor and perspective.

The New York Pass is more about places already known, including four on Staten Island, two in Queens, five in the Bronx and 11 in Brooklyn.

In Manhattan the stops include icons: Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, the Guggenheim, Statue of Liberty and dozens more.

Southern-living me did go to Virgil’s Real BBQ for lunch, wings and ribs, mac and cheese and oblong hush puppies.

I own up to taking Statue Cruises to Lady Liberty. Determined travelers in 1900 needed a long boat voyage; only thing required for my trip was an easy back-roads drive on U. S. 1 to Florida for Jacksonville International Airport and a Jet Blue flight to JFK.

New York doesn’t have to be hard to negotiate.


Christine Tibbetts is a travel writer for The Tifton (Ga.) Gazette. Contact her at tibbetts1@bellsouth.net.

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