Traversing the sidewalks of Eighth Avenue wasn't easy on New Year's Eve. The crowd that was growing larger and noisier by the minute was only just beginning their party evening, loading up on street vendor gear advertising their support for "2012." I'm all in favor of that.
However, I had something better, perhaps a bit more low-key but every bit as exciting, that I was aiming for just around the corner at West 44th Street.
It was a New Year's Eve celebration worthy of Times Square and New York City! That was, and is, Birdland. It's a New York jazz institution and, on New Year's Eve this year, big band jazz was featured.
The music was big indeed, especially from my perch at a table that was practically in the band. Put it this way, the bass player could have easily reached for our bottle of wine had he wanted to. And, looking around, it felt possible that there were as many band members as audience members who were thoroughly enjoying the sold-out set.
Birdland's room is just the right size with good seating throughout, even at the bar. The dinner menu features Southern items with a cajun flair.
The Birdland Big Band, directed by Tommy Igoe, performs every Friday, so whether it's New Year's Eve or any other Friday, Birdland is a true New York find worthy of an evening out (for about the price of a night of theater around the corner, including dinner).