Gil Reavill has kindly provided the following guest post.
Smalls (writes Gil) is a Manhattan jazz club whose name describes it well: a tight basement space in the West Village, one that in past years would be thick with tobacco smoke. It’s a perfect throwback. Spending a recent evening at Smalls made me feel as though I had stepped into a time machine. I was transported back into the glory years of the Nineteen-Fifties, waiting for Bird to step onstage. The jazz club has a jazz cat, Minnow, a Maine coon who loves curling up on the credenza of the Steinway, inches away from the piano player’s face. (T-shirts can be had with Minnow’s countenance.)
My pal John Bowman and I were at Smalls to see vocal phenom Cyrill Aimée, among the best of a current crop of female singers (like Melody Gordot, Linzzi Zaorski and Cécile McLorin Salvant) keeping the traditions of jazz singing alive. Aimée did a terrific couple of late sets. The standouts for me were the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer classic “My Shining Hour, ” plus the Thelonious Monk composition “Well, You Needn’t,” a tune I’ve listened to my whole life without realizing it had lyrics (they were composed in the 1970s by singer Mike Ferro). But everything Aimee did was superb. She had a crack band backing her, led by pianist Pete Malinverni. “Me and Pete and Minnow are going to do a trio now,” Aimee announced before one number, afterwards name-checking the cat accurately as “Minnow on the piano.” A magical evening.