Ralph Pucci’s Jazz Night Supports Aspiring Musicians

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

“It goes back to my childhood,” said Ralph Pucci, talking about his love of jazz and how it’s become part of the fabric of his Manhattan showroom for luxury home furnishings, sculpture, lighting, art, photography and mannequins.

“Not many people know this about me but I played drums from the third grade to my senior year in college and played in a jazz rock band in the 11th grade.” He’d listen to Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Weather Report, and later Freddie Hubbard, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Chet Baker, among others. On any given day, inside the Ralph Pucci International showroom, located on 18th Street in the Chelsea section of the city, you’ll hear music by Keith Jarrett, Chic Correa and Milt Jackson piped in.

More from WWD

RELATED: Matthew Yokobosky Honored With Markopoulos Award at Ralph Pucci

Jazz as part of the Ralph Pucci International brand identity was exemplified Tuesday night when the Pucci showroom transformed into a jazz club featuring a performance by two jazz legends, vocalist Gregory Porter and virtuoso bassist and composer Christian McBride, accompanied by pianist Chip Crawford.

This was the seventh annual edition of Pucci’s jazz night, which always benefits the Jazz House Kids. The event has so far raised $1.1 million to provide scholarships and expand its program, which from its home in Montclair, New Jersey, has expanded with a collaboration with Trinity Church Wall Street, providing opportunities for young musicians who want to learn and perform. McBride’s wife, Melissa Walker, is president and founder of Jazz House Kids.

For each Pucci jazz event, McBride brings in a different jazz legend, and he’s been joined by Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Laurie Anderson, John Pizzarelli, Esperanza Spalding and Norah Jones. He interviews them with his light conversational style, they exchange anecdotes and perform together and jam with the students.

Throughout Tuesday night’s performance, many in the crowd of 300 vigorously clapped to the beat of the music, coaxed by the musicians or spontaneously. “Gregory Porter knocks it out of the park,” exclaimed Pucci. “Christian McBride, he’s never pigeonholed. He’s played with Chic Correa, Sting, Paul McCartney, James Brown, Isaac Hayes.”

For the jazz night, Porter said he chose “songs of love” and opened up his act with “On a Clear Day.” He said he was influenced greatly by Nat King Cole and Lou Rawls, though the biggest influence was right from the family. “My mother was a minister. We sang in the choir,” said Porter. He attended San Diego State College on a football scholarship, and at one time thought of playing professionally. But he would sing in the locker room and sometimes even on the field, and ultimately it was his mother that, as he said, “set me down in that good soil. It’s wonderful when you find the soil you belong in.”

Christian McBride, Gregory Porter, Melissa Walker and Ralph Pucci.
Christian McBride, Gregory Porter, Melissa Walker and Ralph Pucci.

Best of WWD

Click here to read the full article.