ROXY BAR, NYC — I’ve rarely seen anyone who puts his entire body into the performance of jazz the way Chris Norton does.
Beyond his exquisite and expressive horn play, Chris swings and twists his body to emphasize every word and bring the joy of musical expression alive. He clearly enjoys entertaining and feels every note deeply. He is a joy to watch and listen to.
Hotel lobby bars are usually the lairs of lonesome piano players (who might as well be “player pianos” for all the attention the crowds usually pay). But at The Roxy Hotel at the intersection of Church St. and Avenue of the Americas, the bands command attention and patrons watching (for free!) count their blessings.
And, by the way, the food and beer are both excellent!
There is a composite video below made up of six or seven short snippets of the performance. If you don’t want to watch the entire 3:49-minute video, skip ahead to minute 2:40 for an hysterical moment when Chris actually incorporates a dog barking in the audience into his last song.
Yes, there REALLY was a barking dog in the audience (one of those eccentric, wealthy old New York City ladies, dressed to the nines. brought her teeny dog to the bar and put it in a seat. Whenever the music got loud, the dog would bark. Instead of getting upset, Chris went with it and did a masterful and creative job blending the barking with the end of the last song. As crazy as it was, the moment demonstrated his showmanship and aplomb.
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THE BAR: The Roxy Hotel
LOCATION: Intersection of Church St. and Avenue of the Americas (2 Ave of the Americas New York NY 10013 United States)
PRICE: Remarkably, there is no advertised drink minimum nor is there any cover charge!
DRINKS: Excellent if small selection of beers (can’t speak to wine or mixed drinks)
FOOD: Excellent, especially the salads.
SERVICE: If you pay attention to them, they’ll pay attention to you. They are very good but spread a bit thin, so you can go a little time without them dropping by. But that’s fine with me as I’m there to listen more than eat and drink.
THE VIBE: When you first walk in and see the open atrium courtyard where the band will be playing, it’s hard to imagine that you’re in for a great musical experience. Too many hotel atrium background music experiences lowered my expectations. But the acoustics are actually great, and once they start playing, you might as well be in a dark, cool, Greenwich Village jazz dive because the music is that good and the setting suffices.