News & Politics

A Killer 1962 Village Gate Lineup

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Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

November 22, 1962, Vol. VIII, No. 5

Notebook for Night Owls

By J.R. Goddard

It is almost impossible to describe the current show at Art D’Lugoff’s Village Gate, Thompson below Bleecker. For rarely is one night club graced with so much great musical talent, variety and dramatic tension.

Paul Draper, Larry Adler, and Nina Simone are the headliners who make the show frequently buzz and smoke. Not always, for there are some dull and inept moments, but generally things move forward in exciting style.

Veteran dancer Paul Draper leads off with an act that incorporates vaudeville, a deft bit of ballet, musical comedy routines, and pure, pure joy! Tall and almost ascetically thin, the graceful entertainer again proves himself one of the best dancers in America. Numbers run from “West Side Story” to Bach interpretations, to vaudeville hoofing, to a really inspired thing on an electioneering politician meeting the crowds.

The equally famed Larry Adler follows Draper. Wringing sounds from his harmonica ranging from the pristine classical to the huskiest kind of folk and jazz riff, he goes through Korean songs, Bach, and Debussy (along with some very boring jokes) in an exhilarating breeze. Then pin-striped Draper joins him, and the two stars tear through an Americana number in high style.

Nina Simone and her group wind up the show, starting out with a wild, building Hebraic instrumental that has the audience screaming at the end. Then she turns her famous, low-keyed vocal style to a moving “One Man’s Hands,” or a delightful “Forbidden Fruit.” Of special interest among her musicians, all of whom are excellent, is Montego Joe, whose drums turn you on with their deep, resonant booming.

It’s hard to say what, or who, is best in this Gate lineup. Maybe only personal preference can tell. For me it’s Draper, a man whose elan and effortless style, its warmth radiated by a marvelously plastic face, are timeless as show business itself.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

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