Last night the birthday boy and I thought we were going to the Village Vanguard to hear their regular Monday night jazz orchestra, but when we got there we saw a sign on the door: closed! Apparently the orchestra is on tour. Fortunately, the fiance knows all the cool spots in the area, so we backtracked to the nearby Smalls Jazz Club, which in my head is really called "Derek Smalls Jazz Club" ("He wrote this!"), where we caught a set by the Rafi Malkiel Group. I know very little about jazz, so you'll have to go to the fiance for a detailed analysis; I'll just say I loved these guys. They have a fascinating instrument balance -- trombone, sax, piano, drum kit, but also clarinet, flute, bassoon (!), and Latin percussion -- so their music combines the discipline of classical music with the unpredictability of jazz and the alegria of South American rhythms. We were especially taken with the clarinetist, Anat Cohen (you can hear her interviewed on NPR here). And, of course, I was excited to see women performing, period. (They also had a bitchin' female bassoonist. A bassoonist!)
All of the above links will take you to websites that play music -- the Smalls site has an entertaining animated intro, as well -- so I'll stop chattering and let you go listen. I have a Broadway date tonight, so you can count on hearing about that tomorrow!