A Jazzy riff on a jazzy little bookstore we know of…


…ain’ never heerd such pluckin’ an’ blowin’ since the close of Miss Pearl’s

            feets are tappin’

            heads are noddin’

all the chilrens are dancin’

            everbody’s smilin’ at everbody else           

Eric Whittington, presiding fellow of Bird & Beckett Books, announces, “Folks, it’s been happening here every Friday since 2002 – haven’t missed a week.”  There’s the hard corps of ladies who always stop in—many with goodies in hand and tin.  There’s Margaret, a bit shorter than most, but whose pride in her cookie skills raises her way up.  And some bodys are always bringing dips and chips, as Eric and others supply us with inexpensive liquids (donations only), from water on up. And the guys—some curious just off the street, some wizened jazzmen, all who just like the scene and sounds.

Wat’s hapnin’? Only that it’s also the time and place to listen to the very best jazz in town, and schmooze. Dig the animated conversations among bass, tenor sax (sometimes two–that would be same sax), baritone sax, drums, piano, trumpet, guitar, trombone, clarinet, flute, cornet, flugelhorn…It’s a real stir-fry from as many as four different groups, each with its own style and combos.  Musicians who have played and studied with the best of jazz bands.

So who we talkin’ about?

Don Prell’s Seabop Ensemble (on rare occasion see/hear the prello­–his electric cello on a stick; Jimmy Ryan’s Quintet; Chuck Peterson’s Quintet…

–all these groups involve a shuffle of various musicians with differing ensembles and guests.  That’s what makes Fridays sort of a surprise.

Sometimes Dorothy Lefkowitz drops in to sing a few good old songs.

Oh, yes, they all play ONLY with the assistance of our donations and contributions–

and the help of the Cultural Legacy Project.

Oh, and I didn’t mention–there’s thousands and thousands of books, all waiting to be chosen?  Most of them brand new, others sort of, others in  special pre-read sections, this week’s world newspapers, even my own 8×12 book that often finds itself in a remote corner.  This place is way–out better than a library because you can take ‘em home and keep ‘em—and you don’t have to browse some computer files to see if they exist somewhere in library cyberspace. What more?—stands and stands of cards to send to your fave. And if you know of some book Erik doesn’t have on the shelf, he or his staff will do their best to get it for you.

What a place to be just after work or a hard week at home– to browse, to listen, to greet, to buy, to schmooze!  Find your old friends, find new ones–like William the sailor, Linda the pet caregiver, Zadek the people’s advocate, Pat (Eric’s mom) with Pablo (her dachshund), Nick, Eric’s son and his wife behind the counter, Mary the nurse, Jim the instructor, any number of computer whizzes, poets, office workers glad to end the week, neighbors who drift in from up the street, some transporting themselves from nearby ‘hoods. Some escort four-leggeds, all like a family, sometimes talking at the same time, sometimes enough to be shushed (like myself).  Always meet the curious who have heard about B&B– from Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, France, New Zealand, New York, Chicago – all just to take in the atmosphere.

Wait! This is just Friday.  Sunday:  Poetry, unusual music through the Cultural Legacy Project, & stuff other days, too. Too darn much to talk about. Just GO!!

Charlie “BIRD” Parker and Samuel BECKETT

By Dolan Eargle, aficionado


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