What can I say?… sometimes I love this city, sometimes I hate it. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. When the rhythm of the city coincides with my own personal highs and lows, it can feel like pure elation or absolute purgatory. This past week we landed on the former and there are two collections of musicians to thank: This Ambitious Orchestra and Gato Loco.

Benjamin Ickies undeniably brings the party with his Ambitious Orchestra (a 22-piece electric orchestra plus rock band). Most recently, the party was for Freddie Mercury’s 65th Birthday. Next Magazine wrote a review on both Ickies and the Queen tribute which was organized by Oh!You Pretty Things and featured dozens of artists celebrating lifestyle and music in epic fashion, which ended in the fabulously smashing, glammed-up charade that it should have. Boys who like girls, girls who like boys, girls who like girls, boys who like boys, robots who like toys…this night had it all and (along with Coach Mike Pics) caught it all on camera (you probably want to take a peek at those pics). Leather chaps, mustaches, spandex, electrical tape (yeah- we’ve all seen that trick), satin, vacuum cleaners… whaa? yeah. Anyways…the “people watching” alone would have proven a satisfactory night but to also perform/sing with this group was a trip. Myself and Lisa D (flutist) belted Queen’s “Bicycle Race” as a duet. (Sidenote: I taught that song to my brother when he was 5 and I’m an avid Queen fan, so I was honored to pay homage to Freddie and happy to chant the anthem at le Poisson Rouge).
WATCH OUR VIDEO of Bicycle Race:

Later in the week I played in Washington Square Park with musical phenomenon Gato Loco. If you haven’t heard of these guys – check ‘em out. Not too many people perform like this… Stefan Zeniuk (brainchild/mad genius) knows how to enthuse an entertaining group onstage and the band brings a “YOU LOOKING AT ME?!!!!” attitude without a vocalist. They can be found around NYC but these guys are in Europe every other day (not literally, but alot. See their upcoming shows). Their music has an untraceable quality to it- whether it’s the soundscape in Lower Manhattan or Istanbul, all you need to know is…DANCE! I was pleased as rum punch to be surrounded by Stefan, Clifton Hyde, TubaJoe Exley, Jesse Selengut, Ric Becker, Kevin Garcia, Ari Folman-Cohen aaaaand… Kiku Collins!! (Kiku was also subbing on the gig, fiercely fabulous- as always). Clifton Hyde (who I just discovered is on wikipedia) is the french hornist for Gato Loco and also an insane guitarist (see him perform in NYC’s Blue Man Group on the zither…yes, the zither). Playing horn next to him was completely entertaining and it’s easy to see how Gato Loco received such a solid review in All About Jazz Magazine. Fantastic energy level, outrageous collective talent and an attitude that cannot and will not be checked at the door, this band delivers. The crowd (veteran Loco fans and also some innocent bystanders) was sonically assaulted in Washington Square Park and absolutely loved the music. This fun was also more than worthwhile- the concert was a musical offering to commemorate the events of 9/11.

The night ended at DROM NYC (where I have forgotten my own horn on occasion…the sound guy there is reigning champion as overnight instrument keeper). Ric Becker (trombone) played another set with NY Ska-Jazz Ensemble (NYSJE) for their CD Release Party. Ummm….”Boy can play bone.” I’ll go ahead and say it- I met a sick rock trombonist last week. ’nuff said.

Another week survived in NYC. It was a good week.
Oh yeah- here’s a random pic of a car in my neighborhood.

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2 thoughts on “Life of a NYC Musician.

  1. Ric Becker

    Hey Jackie, you captured the ‘NYC thing’ very well in this writeup, but you forgot to mention the crazy energy in the french horn section! (yes, section..) Thanks for bringin it- your playing (and bright colors) really added to the scene.

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