Saturday night at Garage, I caught two sets by the young jazz pianist Jonathan Batiste, whom I first heard a scant two weeks ago in New Orleans, where he was one of the guest artists with Irvin Mayfield and his sensational New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Trained at Juilliard, Batiste is a huge fan of Thelonius Monk, who figures prominently in his programming. Try to hear him in a small space, to better see his hands in action, flying at the keyboard. [Photo: www.jonathanbatiste.com]
Unfortunately I couldn't stay up to hear Batiste play to the bitter end, since I had to be
sprightly awake the next afternoon for the final concert by the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. With James Levine still recovering, conductor James Conlon changed most of the program to a tasty assortment of opera arias by Erika Sunnegårdh, René Pape and Ben Heppner. All three singers demonstrated why they have international stardom, but Pape stole the show with his two nuggets from Don Giovanni and I Vespri Siciliani. And as usual, to hear this powerhouse ensemble in the Carnegie acoustic was unalloyed delight, both in a lithe Mozart "Linz" Symphony and the closer, a furiously dramatic Tchaikovsky Francesca da Rimini with a memorable turn by the orchestra's star clarinetist, Anthony McGill.