So far I think I’ve made the most of the city’s best-known parks, from Central to Prospect and Tompkins Square. But one I’ve entirely overlooked is Bryant Park.
The reason for this could be because it’s in Midtown. I hate Midtown. The sidewalks are swarming and the heat right now means the whole place reeks of broccoli gone very, very bad. And apart from heading up there for the odd new thing, I really have no desire to inflict that sort of harm on myself.
But tonight Bryant Park was offering a night of free jazz with its After Work series, which runs every Wednesday until the end of August. Despite my Midtown reservations, this sounded like a great idea. As well as the free music, I loved the idea of thawing out for an hour in the baking heat after a day in a freezing cold office.
Tonight’s show was the Chuck Braman Trio – a guitar, double bass and drums playing mostly Thelonius Monk pieces. With around 200 others, I perched in front of the fountain to hear them play.
When I lived in Atlanta, one of my best friends was a jazz musician and I’d watch him play weekly. But in all that time, I never heard a guitar take the lead. I definitely missed the brass but still gawked at this musician in wonder. He was all over that thing!
Their playing was calming… and yet I couldn’t concentrate. Mostly because, for half the set, a fully-clothed man waded through the fountain behind them picking up coins. Giggles rippled through the audience – and even the musicians smirked as they watched security guards reprimand him with absolutely no effect.
After the hour-long show, I wandered around the park and came across a ton of new activities to do at later dates – knitting classes, outdoor games. And although the place was heaving it was actually pretty nice. Even though it was Midtown.