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Jay Lloyd’s Getaway: New York City Jazz

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(John Dentato playing clarinet at Cleopatra's Needle.  Photo by Jay Lloyd)

(John Dentato playing clarinet at Cleopatra’s Needle. Photo by Jay Lloyd)

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By Jay Lloyd

NEW YORK, N.Y. (CBS) — Jazz is king at one Upper West Side bistro in New York City.   On a Manhattan getaway, you can hear some of the best — and you never know who will show up, just to jam.

Piano, bass, and drums are on the nightly menu at Cleopatra’s Needle, backing horns, clarinets, and saxes swung by veterans of the New York music scene or, like clarinet man John Dentato (top photo), the Hollywood MGM musical sound stage.

“This is the classic American songbook,”  Dentato said recently.

You may not know the names of these performers, but you’ve heard them behind names you do know:  Frankie Laine, Joni James, Connie Francis, Judy Garland, and more.

(The bar area at Cleopatra's Needle, in NYC.  Photo by Jay Lloyd)

(The bar area at Cleopatra’s Needle, in NYC. Photo by Jay Lloyd)

The room is intimate and the bar lined with New Yorkers who know the music.  There’s no cover charge here and only a $10 minimum, which during Happy Hour can score two drinks.

The food is Mediterranean and the prices are reasonable.

A combo is on hand every night, and the jam sessions go into early morning.

“Great musicians come to sit in with the group,” Dentato notes.

Cleopatra’s Needle, on Broadway near 92nd Street, is a jazz gem in a city where that great American songbook was born.

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