I didn't get to bed until after 1AM, but it was worth every moment of missed sleep.
Last night, thanks to my generous mother, I had the good fortune to go to the Cafe Carlyle for an evening of dinner and live music. The Cafe Carlyle is a New York landmark. It might not be as widely known as the Village Vanguard or the Rainbow Room, but it is a wonderfully unique and very New York kind of spot. Monday nights are especially famous at the Carlyle because the usual act is Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band.
I was excited to go just because I had never been and it is such a famous place. I thought it would be entertaining to see Woody Allen perform live and had no doubt it would be a singular experience. We were there as guests of the maitre d' because my Mom is giving herself a 65th birthday party there later this month and he was good enough to offer her this opportunity to taste the food and experience the Carlyle. My mother was good enough to invite me to join her.
We arrived right on time for our 7PM reservations and Tony, the maitre d', showed us to our table right in front of the stage. We were immediately offered cocktails by the wait captain. "Champagne, Cosmopolitan, Kir Royale?" he suggested. Kir Royale was my choice and my mother opted for straight champagne. The drinks definitely fit the setting and got us in the right mood. Champagne has a way of doing that. We ordered dinner and started to relax into the night.
Woody Allen and band were slated to start at 8:45PM. "What do you think Woody Allen's version of 8:45 is?" my Mom asked.
"Probably 8:40," I joked. Woody Allen strikes me as someone who is compulsively punctual. I can imagine him standing outside a door waiting for the clock to strike precisely the invited hour before he knocks.
I was not disappointed. At 8:40, after polishing off our excellent dinners and just as we were being served dessert by the incredible wait staff, members of the band who had been readying their instruments on stage began to play and Woody Allen entered. He unceremoniously took his place, removed his clarinet from its case and settled down. He was dressed in tan corduroy pants, a yellow oxford shirt, a brown sweater . I got the feeling he wears the same outfit every time he performs. (A quick Google of the band this morning proved me right, too.) After assembling his clarinet, or licorice stick to use the New Orleans lingo, he removed his sweater, took the briefest look around and then cast his eyes down and began to play. He barely looked anywhere but down the entire time and that was probably the strangest part of the performance. Strange, but about what I expected.
Once I got over the fact that I was seeing the Woody Allen on stage just an arm's length from me, I started to really get into the music. The music took me by surprise actually. I am not the biggest music aficionado and I know next to nothing about New Orleans style Jazz, but I completely loved it. The musicians performing with Woody Allen were incredibly talented and the music was transporting.
Given that Woody Allen is so private I assumed that photos wouldn't be allowed. I was wrong. Even so, I wasn't going to do it, but ultimately I couldn't resist snapping a few photos with my phone.
The hour and a half performance flew by. The final number had Woody Allen singing as he cleaned and put away his clarinet. Still barely looking up and not ever looking directly out into the audience. It was a great conclusion to the performance. In the taxi to Grand Central both my mother and I were rubbing our faces which were sore from smiling for 90 minutes straight.