16 September 2011
A cultural jumble
I loved the Fat Cat as a venue, doubly so because I heard a lovely and talented string quartet playing to a noisy audience that was engaged in drinking and chatting and playing chess and table tennis and pool. We found a moderately comfy sofa near the musos, got some drinks and enjoyed Haydn (Divertimento in C) and Mozart (Suite in D). It’s all so, so far from the concert hall and the purity of the listener. But we imagined the musicians of centuries back would have played this dignified and courtly music to their own bars, or at least to their equivalent of cocktail parties. There was a ton of noise, but there was also a very committed sound man who got an effective sound for the quartet that made it perfectly intelligible without being intrusive, and we could laugh and chat and listen to music of delightful beauty. I believe a smile goes a long way when travelling. This is like a parallel. It’s not casting pearls before swine. Rather, this is getting on the wavelength of another cultural group and exposing great beauty. This audience gets it like most others and the quartet enjoys it. After all, they had been playing this venue every Monday evening for several years. Fat Cat is not just a noisy venue for fine music. It mostly programs jazz and late night jam sessions with many of the artist who perform at Smalls. The diminutive cover charge is the best $3 I’ve spent in NYC. We loved it. Thanks to the lovely string quartet comprising Choi Fairbanks (cello, leader), Jia Xu (a very expert violin 1), Jesse Montgomery (violin 2) and Nick Ravel (viola).