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|WBGO-FM fans who paid $500 each enjoyed a cocktail party and dinner at NJPAC.|
We had a good dinner and saw a great jazz concert Wednesday night at Newark's world-class performing arts center.
We went from nail-biting, rush-hour congestion on the New Jersey Turnpike to quiet city streets, where I drove past NJPAC's parking lot ($13 with a prepaid voucher), but encountered a police officer who was nice enough to hold up traffic so I could make a U-turn.
For dinner, we chose the Theater Square Bistro, the less-expensive alternative inside the arts center. My wife and I shared two salads and two entrees, and we drank ginger ale, red zinfandel wine, tea and coffee. With a $12 tip, our meal cost $93.32.
Our salads were imaginative -- one with beets, endive, frisee and goat cheese ($9), the other a lobster salad with fingerling potato discs and cornichon garnish ($10).
We loved our branzino entree ($24) -- two large, skin-on fillets served on top of a bed of fresh spinach with orange sections.
But our pasta with "creamy pesto," tomato and pitted olives ($16) was a disappointment.
Basil-based pesto with olive oil and grated cheese is so flavorful and fragrant as a pasta sauce that diluting it with cream or whatever robs it of its punch and adds unnecessary calories and cholesterol.
And if you didn't get one of the small, salty olives on your fork, the pasta and creamy sauce were under-seasoned.
Our dessert was the annual "Champions of Jazz" benefit for WBGO-FM (Jazz 88), the 24-hour jazz radio station in Newark, honoring Phoebe Jacobs of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and trumpeter Herb Alpert, who cracked that he "dyed his hair gray" for the occasion.
Although our $88 tickets landed us in cramped balcony seats, we enjoyed 10 great singers -- 16 to 89 years old -- including John Hendricks, Ernie Andrews, Leny Andrade, Gary U.S. Bonds, Maysa, Darmon Meader, Kim Nazarian and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Nine of them, backed by a trio and acoustic guitar, ended the concert with an incredible performance of "All Blues," singing, scatting and improvising the Miles Davis classic and bringing the audience to its feet.
Check out the You Tube video of Miles Davis playing "All Blues" on the Steve Allen Show in 1964:
Miles Davis Quintet
I got a kick of how the show band's musicians were applauding Miles and his group with the same enthusiasm as the studio audience.