At the end of the marble filled, wooden framed bar, in front of the lonely and worn wooden piano, the Jazz Owls warm up their instruments. The happy hour cocktails are shaking and the patrons are infused in conversation and laughs as the Bass, Sax and Guitar test out their sounds for the night. The strings pulled, the air blown. The sound is right, the keys are found. Time to begin.
And soon, a little past 6pm on a Friday night, the Jazz starts filling the room.
Anton Vittal on the Guitar, Dmitry Ishenko on the Bass, and Matt Chalk on the Sax. Their playlist for the night includes, Teloneus Monk, Horace Silver, Charlie Parker, Sachmo (Luise Armstrong) and some very sweet and spicy Gypsy Jazz.
The guitar chimes in with Antons fingers as the sax sings its lyrics, and the bass grounds it all in a smooth head as the variations begin.
And just like that, the Astor Room comes alive now, as it once did so long ago. The mahogany drenched, golden lighted room sings with the vital injection of jazz. The conversations are still flowing, but if you look closely, the feet begin to tap. The fingers joining in ever so subtly.
The Jazz Owls bring the flavour to Astor Rooms cocktail.
I sat down with Anton for a drink before he started and asked him why The Astor Room?
‘Because it’s the best place in Queens to play music’ he said. Simple and true.
‘Jazz isn’t played too much in Astoria’ he told me, and the Astor Room gives Astorians a chance to listen to real jazz. The bar is acoustically perfect for an intimate jazz experience, and the sax never sounded better.
But jazz is all about the improv, and the improv can sometimes get pretty quick, with one memorable moment being when the bass player didn’t show up, and Anton and the violin player had to improv their way through half a set. The crowd loved it, Anton tells me. And hearing them play, I could definitely see why.
If you wanna find the guys, then come and see them at the Astor Room where they will be playing next on the 23rd of October. The Jazz Owls play around twice a month on Fridays and/or Saturdays either from 6pm – 9m or 7pm – 10pm.
For more on the band, visitANTONVITTALMUSIC.com.
While the inside was being intimately soothed, the outdoor seating was being shaken up by the second band, Sam Dilon Trio, with Sam on the Sax, Steven Feifke on piano and Shawn Lovato on the bass.
Sam has been on and off at the Astor Room going on four years now.
He like the other two, got into music at a very early age, and hasn’t stopped since. And eventually, all three musicians ended up falling in love with jazz.
The play list for outside goes from Jazz Standard, to American Classis and old pop songs, all twisted and spun into a jazz frenzy. Improvised heavenly with Sams own unique flavour.
‘I love playing here’ Sam says as he begins setting up, ‘it’s a really cool place, with a welcoming atmosphere.’
And he’s right. The Astor Room comes alive when the bands start playing. The music livens up any ones night.
For more info on the Sam Dillon Trio, visit samdillonmusic.com.
If you want to grab some drinks and food, and listen to some fantastic music then make sure to come to the Astor Room from Thursday to Sunday for some smooth sounding jazz. Or check out their website www.astorroom.com for upcoming musical events.