From uptown to downtown, Sir James Galway charms the crowds.
There he was at the New York Philharmonic's season-opening concert, performing Jacques Ibert's challenging Flute Concerto at Lincoln Center in a nationally televised concert on PBS. Dressed in a gold lame formal jacket and gold tie before a gala audience and national TV audience, Galway made a difficult work seem effortless.
Two nights earlier, the man with the golden flute had another gig — on the Lower East Side with the Latin jazz ensemble Tiempo Libre.
At the nightclub Drom, the 68-year-old Galway performed pieces from his new CD, "O'Reilly Street," which he recorded with the Miami-based Cuban-American ensemble. The album is named after Alexander O'Reilly, an Irish general who in 1763 took back Havana from the British. A street in the Cuban capital is named after him.
The CD features selections from Claude Bolling's Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano arranged by Tiempo Libre pianist Jorge Gomez.
Bolling's two suites were originally recorded by the late Jean-Pierre Rampal and a jazz trio. The new version combines what Galway considers the best of the two and contains improvisations and a touch of timba music with a conga adding Afro-Cuban rhythms.
"I didn't want to do it with a regular bass, piano and drums because they had already done that," Galway said in an interview. "No matter how good the drummer is it only goes to a certain degree. So I thought, 'Why not try Tiempo Libre?'"
He said he had heard of the group because they had been nominated for a Grammy.
After only one more rehearsal and one performance, they recorded the CD, which includes Gomez' jazzed up version of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Badinerie."
At Drom on Monday night, Galway mounted the stage wearing an open-collar blue sport shirt, gray dress pants and running shoes. Aside from the piano being out of tune, all went smoothly until the fourth song, "Veloce."
At the end of piece, Galway bellowed a confession in his Belfast lilt.
"Jorge, wait a minute! I would like to do this again because I got lost," he announced to applause and laughter. "It will not happen again."
It didn't, to the audience's delight.
Galway's disclosure was a display of character. A dirty secret of musicians is to never admit a mistake. But Galway felt it was more important to get it right than to fool the majority of listeners who probably would never have noticed.
"You have to have a tremendous amount of confidence to have done that," commented one audience member, Adrian Flannelly.