A just-opened supper club from the Kitano Hotel brings top-tier musicians to a former Rockefeller townhouse.
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The Kitano New York, a Japanese-owned hotel on Park Avenue South, has held a reputation for superior live jazz ever since Gino Moratti stepped in as the musical director six years ago. An avid musician and jazz aficionado, Moratti began booking close friends and top-notch acts to play at the hotel’s swank but modest mezzanine lounge. That worked well enough that the hotel seriously upgraded its jazz venue—and upped the ante on the jazz itself.
With the opening of Jazz at Kitano, a music-infused supper club set in a former Rockefeller townhouse adjacent to the hotel, the Kitano has dedicated a larger, more refined space to showcasing nightly live acts, a pan-Asian menu, and classic cocktails (not to mention a Steinway grand piano kept in concert condition).
Monday Night is Jazz Jam Night. Local jazz veterans and friends of Moratti stop by to play alongside the house band. “The musicians rotate every two songs,” says general manager Clement Carey. “You’ll hear one great musician, and two songs later you hear another great musician with a totally different style.” Tuesday night is the Young Pianist Series, which features a new up-and-comer each month.
“On Friday and Saturday, it’s sort of like jazz church,” Carey says. “People are coming on those nights because the musicians are well known and they are playing in an intimate space, so everyone takes the music very seriously.” The Grammy Award–winning Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio played opening weekend, in early May, after its Jazz at Lincoln Center date in April.
“New Yorkers want intimate, elegant spaces to experience jazz. A lot of the existing jazz clubs in NYC have great entertainment, but they’re simply nuts-and-bolts music venues,” says Carey. “We wanted a neighborhood place for the right clientele. The audiences we are bringing in are people who know the acts and are truly excited by the musicians who play here.”
Upcoming performances include Fred Hirsch, Barry Harris, George Cables, Denny Zeitlin (pianists), Joe Locke (vibraphonist), Sonny Fortune (saxophonist), Gene Bertoncini (guitarist), Aaron Diehl, Gerald Clayton, and Jeb Patton.