Beginning this month, Jim Caruso (the recipient of six MAC Awards and nine BroadwayWorld Awards for his nightclub and virtual performances) and Billy Stritch (who recently toured with Tony Bennett as pianist and musical director, has had a 25-year collaboration with Liza Minnelli as accompanist and opening act, and serves as music director for such leading vocalists as Marilyn Maye, Linda Lavin, Linda Eder, Christine Ebersole, and Paulo Szot) will make their return to Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle for their eighth consecutive year, with a series of Sunday evenings of swing standards on October 24 and 31, November 14 and 21, from 9 pm-midnight. The preeminent nightclub duo, featuring Caruso on vocals and Stritch on piano and vocals, will be joined once again by bassist Steve Doyle to complete the jazz trio.
Located in one of the city’s premiere luxury residential hotels and famous gathering places for celebrities, socialites, and world leaders, the bar – with its extensive cocktail menu, nightly live entertainment, and Art Deco legacy – is named in honor of Ludwig Bemelmans, a successful artist for The New Yorker, Vogue, and Town and Country magazines, who also achieved fame for his classic Madeline children’s books. In his signature style, he transformed the space (the only surviving Bemelmans’ commission open to the public) with large-scale murals of whimsical scenes of Central Park, including picnicking rabbits and ice-skating elephants.
Caruso and Stritch, who have performed extensively on their own, gained national exposure together as the host and musical director of the highly popular open-mic Cast Party, every Monday for eighteen years at Birdland Jazz Club, which Caruso took online during the pandemic as the Pajama Cast Party. In addition to their solo CDs, their new duet album, The Sunday Set, is soon to be released on the Club 44 record label. And during their eight years at Bemelmans, the musical pair welcomed impromptu performances by such acclaimed stars as Bono, Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Clint Holmes, Marilyn Maye, Stephanie J. Block, Steve Ross, Linda Lavin, Darren Criss, Luann de Lesseps, Tony Danza, Megan Hilty, Laura Osnes, Liliane Montevecchi, Christine Ebersole, and Steve Tyrell.
Jim tells me that “Billy Stritch and I feel very lucky to have long-time residencies at two of New York City’s most legendary music venues. I mean, the names Birdland and Bemelmans practically scream New York nightlife! Bemelmans and The Carlyle Hotel have been showcasing live music since the 1930’s – first classical, then jazz and the Great American Songbook. We’re thrilled to be part of the history of such an unforgettable Manhattan destination. We get to host a weekly party in the most glamorous living room in town, and you just never know who might join us for a cocktail and a song!”
Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch play Sundays, October 24 and 31, November 14 and 21, at Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, NYC. Reservations are not accepted; bar seating ($15 per person) and table seating ($25 per person) are available for walk-ins only, on a first-come first-serve basis. Proof of vaccination is required. For more information, call (212) 570-7120, or go online.