Posts Tagged ‘Resorts Casino’


Wednesday, August 8th, 2012


The name of Andy Kahn appears often in this space. That’s because I love his playing, I can’t get enough of it, and I want everyone to hear him. In the 50 or so years of our personal and professional association, I’ve heard him advance and evolve in a thoughtful, intelligent and sometimes exploratory manner. What you won’t hear from Andy Kahn are “licks” of any kind. Not Oscar’s. Not McCoy’s. Not Bill Evans’. Not Chick Corea’s. Not Paul Bley’s. Not Bernard Peiffer’s. Okay, 24 years ago he did quote from a solo by Harry “Sweets” Edison.

What’s particularly gratifying about his playing is, of course, his Great American Songbook repertoire, and that listeners won’t even be aware of licks or the lack of them. Quite simply, Andy Kahn makes a beautiful sound.

Right now, he holds the Thursday night spot at center city Philadelphia’s Prime Rib restaurant, and Fridays at Girasole in Atlantic City. I have no doubt that all or some of the other five nights per week will be eventually filled.


Right next door to the Warwick Hotel’s Prime Rib is a space called Tavern17. Featured there not too long ago was singer Mary Ellen Desmond, backed by pianist Tom Lawton and bassist Lee Smith. It was one of the more wonderful evenings of music I’ve ever had. For the complete story, check out the re-cap on the Community Pages.


How many drummers in history have accompanied Jimi Hendrix, Count Basie, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Charles Mingus and Charlie Ventura? And how many drummers have been on network television five nights per week for almost 30 years? Only Ed Shaughnessy. Ed has written a superb book about his life and his drumming and it’s available from Rob Cook at and other outlets.

The daughter of the late and great Jake Hanna has let us know that the long-in-preparation book about her dad should be available early this fall. Jake was a colorful character and a one-of-a-kind drummer, and I know first-hand that the book is chock full of great musical stuff, and great “Jake Stories.” Check out for release date.


Stephan Peiffer, son of pianist Bernard, and pianist/educator/musicologist Don Glanden are the behind-the-scenes “powers-that-be” responsible for the release of “Bernard Peiffer: Improvision.” Part of the Universal Music “Jazz in Paris” series, “Improvision” is the first “new” Peiffer release in a half-dozen years. This stellar project issues, for the first time on CD, two incredibly rare LPs: “Bernie’s Tune” from 1956, “Modern Jazz for People who Like Original Music” from 1960, and some private material from the 1970s. “Astounding” is the only word for this project and for Bernard. For more details, log on to the Jazz Times Community Pages.


I’ll be doing more work in the near future with Michael Ricci’s web site. Michael was one of the first out of the box, in 1995, with a comprehensive jazz site, and it’s only gotten bigger and better as time goes on. Latest development is a wide-ranging venture that will bring to visitors—via web pages and an app—every jazz and jazz-related event that is going on in your particular town. “Jazz Near You” is slated for a September launch.

How many folks visit Michael’s site? I can only say that, as you read this, my “How to Guide” on how to book jazz into a restaurant or club will have been read by nearly 4,000 people. That’s a lot of readers,and hopefully, a lot of eventual gigs for all.


I doff my cap to Suzanne Cloud, Wendy Simon-Sinkler and all other involved parties at Philadelphia’s Jazz Bridge, who worked tirelessly to put together what I consider to be one of the most important jazz events of the decade. This was a Town Meeting, hosted by Jazz Bridge and the newly-formed Philadelphia Jazz Coalition, and it was a forum to address the great, near-great and not-so great issues that face jazz musicians in Philadelphia and nationwide. Once again, for my take on that memorable evening, visit the Jazz Times’ Community Pages.


My recent visit to Atlantic City was done in secret. I wanted to be alone while visiting old haunts and keep an open mind when visiting new ones. Some nice folks from Caesars’ security staff let me know that business seems to be on the upswing. That is as it should be. It’s the summer season. The beach was packed, the new, Michigan Avenue stores seemed busy; every Jitney that passed me was full and casino floor—even in mid-day on a weekday—appeared to be doing well.

There’s even some jazz to be heard here. Pianist Orrin Evans had a recent date as a part of what was called the “Chicken Bone Beach Fesitval,” and the honchos at what once was the Playboy/Golden Nugget/Bally’s Grand/Hilton—and now the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel—are booking jazz on Sunday nights. Recent visitors included pianists Alan Broadbent, John Coliani and Jim Ridl, often heard in duo formats. How about booking jazz seven nights per week?

With the untimely death of Resorts co-owner Dennis Gomes in February, surviving partner Morris Bailey was looking for another co-owner and has found one in the form of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. These folks know what they’re doing and hopefully will continue to breathe new life, a new life started by Dennis Gomes, into A.C.’s oldest casino.

The same old problems still exist here, however. Urban blight and decay, abandoned lots and homes are on view, often yards away from billion-dollar hotel/casinos. Regular Atlantic City visitors are used to this. Newcomers are not. Doesn’t anyone down there realize that no one wants to see this in what is supposed to be a resort town? And what happened to the promises that were made from the day gaming was legalized in 1978? Until things are really and truly cleaned up, this town will continue to be in trouble.


Composer/conductor/pianist Marvin Hamlisch’s sudden death at the age of 68 on August 6th was a shock. He did a conducting gig as recently as July 21 and had just completed the score for the musical stage play of Jerry Lewis’ “The Nutty Professor.”

Hamlisch was not a jazz man, nor did he profess to be, but he was the last of a breed of “old time tunesmiths” in the tradition of Great American Songbook composers. Call me a cornball if you will, but you could whistle Hamlisch’s tunes. And you could dance to them. There was elegance, wit, musical logic and exquisite simplicity in many of his tunes. Even Sinatra dug him and tried to make a hit out of Hamlisch’s “There’s Something About You,” written in tandem with frequent partner, Carole Bayer Sager.

Sadly, and I didn’t know of this until his death, Marvin Hamlisch was being strongly considered to replace Philly Pops’ conductor Peter Nero after Nero’s planned departure at the end of the 2013 season. That would have been great for this city. And for music.


Bob Brasler’s obituary did not appear in Down Beat magazine, and the flag in front of the A.F.of M. Local #77 wasn’t flown at half-staff upon his death. That’s because Bob was best known as being one of this area’s most innovative real estate developers and forward thinkers, responsible, in good measure, for Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center.

But musicians loved Bob Brasler, who passed away at the age of 75 in June, and Bob Brasler loved musicians. It didn’t matter what the nature of the social or charitable gathering was. All he needed was a piano player, and Bob would end up singing half the night.

The trio of pianist Andy Kahn, bassist Bruce Kaminsky and yours truly, accompanied Bob frequently through the years, often at the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Foundation headquarters (an organization, by the way, that Bob and his darling wife Sibby virtually put on the map) and most recently at his 75th birthday gala. Bob’s singing was an important part of these occasions, with charts, keys, lyrics and song lists submitted to us long, long in advance.

When Bob died, I got a call from Sibby, saying that Bob insisted, shortly before his death, that our trio play at his memorial service. I wasn’t surprised, but I was touched and honored.

This guy put on a show. And a heck of a show it was. He was one hell of an entertainer, and one hell of a human being. Wherever Al Jolson has been residing since 1950, I know he said the following when hearing of Bob Brasler’s arrival: “Brasler’s here? Oh, shit.”


Friday, August 26th, 2011

Almost everyone who has an interest in such things knows that Atlantic City is in big financial trouble. Those in the Greater Delaware Valley area who like to gamble, a little or a lot, now need only drive up or down the block in order to play blackjack or the quarter slots. The “in the know” contingent who have been following Atlantic City’s situation since gaming was made legal in 1978 say that the one-time king of resorts needs some kind of shot in the arm—make that a minor miracle—to survive and continue to compete as a year-round tourist destination.

They may have found one. His name is Andy Kahn. He is an entertainer. He plays piano and sings.

One of Atlantic City’s draws, for almost a century, has been its entertainers. In its pre-casino heyday, A.C. played host to virtually every star in the universe who performed live. Where else could one see the Three Stooges, Gene Krupa, Louis Prima, Duke Ellington, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Frank Sinatra in person in one day?

Today, there’s not much room for innovation in the area of booking talent. The legendary big names are gone or retired and the demographics have certainly changed since 1978. So, in terms of entertainment, the Atlantic City casinos only have revue shows, rock bands, the occasional comic and disc jockeys from which to choose.
The rejuvenated Resorts Casino Hotel—the town’s first legal gaming hall—seems poised to move away from the norm in many areas and take some chances. In the booking of performer Andy Kahn, Resorts’ bet paid off. His one-nighter was a resounding success.

Over 100 people of all ages seemingly came out to hear Kahn sing and play recently, within Resorts’ Starlight Room, which moonlights as comic Joe Piscopo’s popular club on weekends. On this night, the audience did not hear a disc jockey or rock music–not that there’s anything wrong with that. What they did hear was over 90 minutes of the ageless and timeless music of the great American composers, i.e., Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harry Warren, Johnny Mercer and the like, performed by a multi-talented pianist/singer, who proved to be an affable and enthusiastic performer with obvious star quality.

Other artists through the seasons, notably the late Bobby Short and today’s Michael Feinstein, have used a similar, “Great American Songbook” repertoire as the basis of their programs, but Andy Kahn approaches things in a different way. Interwoven between tunes are anecdotes about the composers and their lives and times, all held together by heartfelt singing and jazz piano chops that Short and Feinstein could only dream of. His jazz rendition of “I Love Paris” was a standout.

It all works, and the Resorts audience couldn’t get enough.

Kahn has extensive experience, since childhood, in virtually every area of the entertainment industry. He’s worked as an actor, jazz pianist, cabaret performer, author, composer, recording studio executive, producer, engineer and talent scout. He was at the forefront of the disco movement via, among many other things, his production of the number one disco record of 1978, “Hot Shot,” as performed by Karen Young.

But in following Kahn’s career for almost 50 years, I’d have to report with some accuracy that singing and playing the great tunes, as he did at Resorts, remains his first love. Even if he were booked doing this 300 nights of the year, I doubt if he’d ever look upon it as “a job.” And there’s no chance for boredom, either. As the legendary Sam Butera used to say about his own shows at Resorts, “Each show is entirely different.” So are Kahn’s.

The management at Resorts is to be congratulated for taking a chance on something new. Their gamble paid off, proving that it’s virtually impossible to fail with the timeless and ageless elements that constitute the elegant repertoire of Andy Kahn. It’s important to remember that Kahn is not peddling nostalgia. He’s selling quality, and it’s because of quality that these compositions remain fresh, and have lived on, in some cases for nearly 100 years.

I’d bet that Atlantic City audiences can’t wait for Kahn’s next show. I’ll be at the head of the line.