Transiting the Bermuda Triangle aboard Queen Mary 2 one night, I’m eating dinner with the photographer Louise Millmann. We’re showing each other our iPhone photographs over the tomato salad and since I see hers, I experience serious credibility in her voice when she tells me about the aluminum bass fiddle she hears being played during a Night Hawks performance at the New York nightclub Iguana, in particular by the Hawks’ bass player Joe Tarto. That, and leader Don Giordano’s bass saxophone. To not hear such a rare pairing feels unfaithful to the whole New York music scene.
Iguana is a Mexican-themed club on 54th Street, the same street as Flute at the uptown edge of the theater district and there, on Monday and Tuesday nights you’ll find the Night Hawks jazz age style big band playing the tunes of King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington and many others.
You’ll hear 1920s and 30s tunes like Puttin’ on the Ritz, Maple Leaf Rag, Deep Purple, My Baby Just Cares for Me, In the Mood, and Duke Ellington’s Mood Indigo, Sugar Foot Stomp, and Drop Me Off in Harlem.
Woody Allen uses the Night Hawks band in plenty of his films’ underscoring.
A sleeper at a big city, big band, good times, dance-your-ass-off kind of joint. Enjoy!