“Who’s your barber?” I asked Lloyd Blankfein at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s gala last night, getting close to his light scruff for the second night in a row.
“Me, I do it myself, with a little electric razor on stilts, everybody has them,” said the chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
A few feet away, Dick Cashin of One Equity Partners LLC, chatted with Tony James, president of Blackstone Group. The clean-shaven private-equity presence also included Michael Cavanagh, co-president of Carlyle Group, and Alex Navab of KKR.
Soon a New Orleans second line was winding its way past E. John Rosenwald, vice chairman emeritus at JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Jimmy Van Bramer, majority leader of New York City Council.
Eventually, people filed into the concert hall for a concert presenting a history of jazz starting with Taj Mahal, 71, and ending with Joey Alexander, who’s almost 11.
The program hit it out of the park, musically, and for its interstitial moments.
“Who wants to buy the Clippers, anybody?” Billy Crystal said to an audience that included David Stern, former commissioner of the National Basketball Association. “Let’s start the bidding with $550 million.” He got lots of laughter, but no bids.
Bill Cosby reacted to the trumpet duet of Wynton Marsalis (JALC’s general and artistic manager) and Jon Faddis on “Things to Come.”
“I don’t know why Wynton decided to do that,” Cosby said. “It was a contest of the two going at each other. One attacked, and the other hoped that the attacker would have a heart attack. See gentlemen like Faddis, you don’t mess with.”
And honoree Ashley Schiff Ramos pulled up the curtain on producing gala concerts for JALC.
As she told it, Bob Dylan had sent in two songs way in advance when he arrived at rehearsal on the day of the gala, “looked at Wynton’s sextet, and suggested two totally different songs,” Schiff said. “There was dead silence. Then he suggested another well-known song. Silence. I had to quietly walk over to his manager to explain that these jazz musicians weren’t so familiar with Dylan’s repertoire except possibly for the two songs that they had just arranged the day before.”
And Marsalis gave proof of the excellent memory of honoree and JALC board member John Arnhold, of First Eagle Investment Management. At a performance in Berlin, Arnhold introduced the orchestra by naming every member without notes, Marsalis said.
As dessert was served, the gala had raised $3.7 million. Tina Fey, Blankfein and J. Michael Evans, who left his senior post at Goldman at the end of last year and said he has no professional plans yet, dined (at different tables) in the Appel Room, named for board chairman Bob Appel and his wife, Helen. The Appels, who recently gave $20 million to JALC, dined in the Ertegun Atrium.
Gary Vura, a vice president at ICAP Plc, had already congratulated the guy he thought had won the Knowledge is Power Program Poker Tournament last night.
Then someone noticed Vura had pulled a flush with four diamonds, including his last two cards. In an instant, the handshakes transferred to him.
“Holy cow,” said Whitney Tilson, managing partner at Kase Capital Management, who captured the moment in a video.
Larry Robbins, chief executive officer of Glenview Capital Management, hosted the event at the Edison Ballroom to raise funds for KIPP NYC, which is part of a national network of 141 charter schools in 37 cities. In New York, KIPP has almost 4,000 students in 10 schools located in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Harlem and Washington Heights.
Henry Kravis, co-chairman of KKR, took his first gala turn Wednesday night as chairman of the nonprofit Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, a role he took on in January.
The organization works with low-income kids to get them into college and advance their professional prospects.
“In my view it’s one of the best kept secrets anywhere,” Kravis said. “So we’re going to change that. Fifty-one years. We start with tonight.”
Kravis said he’d like to see SEO to expand to cities beyond New York and San Francisco. He also thanked gala chairman Doug McGregor, chairman and CEO of RBC Capital Markets, for helping the event at Cipriani Wall Street raise a record $2.4 million.
Meanwhile on Wednesday at Cipriani 42nd Street, Turnaround for Children’s chairman, Trey Beck, a managing director at D.E. Shaw, spoke with me about why he first got involved.
The nonprofit works in public schools “to neutralize the negative effects of poverty,” as he put it. Turnaround embeds social workers and trains teachers in how to work with poor students to get the best results -- all based on extensive research led by CEO and president Pamela Cantor, a child psychiatrist.
“I met with Pam, and I was pretty drawn to the message that what seemed an intractable problem actually had a recurrent pattern that could be understood,” Beck said. “You can basically predict certain outcomes, most of which are negative, based on the artifacts of poverty.
‘‘It seemed very practical, and it was actually very consonant with the business I’m in, which is quantitative finance. We’re also looking for patterns.”