Bobbing Weaving in the Groove at Jazz Forum

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WPCNR THE SUNDAY BAILEY. By John F. Bailey. February 20, 2,022:


My most memorable date with Brenda Starr was at the old Half Note in Greenwich Village. In 1970.

I worked at Hudson Street for Standard & Poor’s at the time and passed the Half Note when I walked from the subway to work,

  I asked the always-editing redhead of The Flash whom I had just met if she liked jazz. I had noted the celebrated sax man, Zoot Sims was playing. She accepted and since I knew nothing about Greenwich Village let alone where to park, in pre-Garman days, it promised to be an adventure.

The Half Note of the Past

Well we got there, parked in a garage because I was reluctant to park my car on the street (no parking place), no park signs all around). And made our way to the Half Note at  289 Hudson Street & Spring Street down the block from the S & P building. (WCBS Radio is there today).

The casuality of the Half Note fulfilled all expectations, Ms. Starr was impressed. We had scotch and sodas. Mr. Sims’ side men came in, set up casually, tuned and warmed us up. Ms. Starr, who smoked Marlboros at the time,  took one out and and flawlessly, I lit her cigarette with a one match strike as she held her cigarette in her mouth like Lauren Bacall. I’d never done that beforel. She had me at first light.

As Mr. Sims’ accompanists continued with their low key “jazz overture.” The man himself strolled in with his tenor saxophone, listening and carrying his own scotch in his right hand. He set the drink with plenty ice, on top of the piano. What a move.

What an entrance. He was slowly nodding his head to the build up of jazz mood.

He raised his mouthpiece to his lips. He began to play. Ms. Starr held her cigarette,  lifted in the air by two fingers of her right hand resting on her elbow on the little table, and the blue smoke drifted aloft on his first notes.

We were seated maybe 10 feet away. The music created with each instrument creating a uniqueness of experience that lasts in indelible memory. 

Saturday night Ms. Starr and I attended the Jazz Forum, Onne Dixon Street in Tarrytown  Westchester County’s own intimate jazz mecca and the only one.

Jazz musician and owner  Mark Marinelli, founder with his wife of the Forum in June 2017 presented the famous clarinetist and tenor saxophone jazz impresario, Ken Peplowski and his Quartet.

Mr. Peplowski launched into his tenor sax opening upbeat number and the heads in the audience were slowly nodding then bobbing up and down.

Guitarist Pasqualie Grasso picked up Mr. Peplowski’s  rollicking bopping riff with Mr. Grasso’s nuanced  flow of twang.

Bassist Mike Kam’s   “ strong Bass with intricate authority ”  fulfilled the “get your attention” opener. The elegance with elan percussionist Phil Stewart dressed the out-of-the-gate gambit with intricacies of precise intensities that said forget your troubles, jazz is here!

Mr. Peplowski switched to his renowned clarinet for numbers closing the set dazzling and delighting with uptempo, ballads and reving old melodies in a fresh enthrallment and virtuoso solos by Mr. Kam, Mr. Stewart (who makes drums talk), an the guitar pilot, Mr, Grassie whose solo flight took us places in flight levels we have not heard until last night. As J.J. Johnson said, “Jazz is restless. It never stops moving. It never stays put.”

Then down to the mellow and deep feeling melancholy followup with a deeeeeeeeep standard ballad  that Mr. Peplowsli’s deep tenorizing gently took possession of the full house drinking their cocktails but forgetting all about their drinks, as the uplifting bluesiness of love’s uniqueness held them spellbound. Guitar, Bass and drums each sketching new interpretaions to the memories always in your heart. The diversity of the beats, moods and flights of mesmerizing solos by the 4 went though the hour and a half set.

Weathering the pandemic, the Jazz Forum has come back with a full schedule of always unique and enthralling jazz practitioners on Friday and Saturday nights with Brazilian emphasis on Sundays.

This is a great night out. The cocktails are terrific, the light menu fare sets your appetite for the attention the performers command, and command they will.

Mr. Morganelli’s Jazz Forum is always glad to see you. Mr. PPeplowski and his artists were genuinely seemed to be impressed with the audience.

What I get out of this performance was how recorded music can capture the intimacy and feelings a live performance delivers to you. This is no revelation I know. I loved the Rosemary and Thyme jazz venue in Port Chester a few years ago and the private intimate club atmosphere that created.

Jazz Forum is the jazz destination now.

You’ll also hear Mr. Morganelli play his trumpet sliding inwith the performers for guest solos. It is improvisational. Inspirational.

The Half Note lives again. See the Jazz Forum website at

The only thing missing is the blue haze of two cigarettes in the dark.

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