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Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Jazz Columns: Todd Barkan: Taking Care of the Music — By Sylvia Levine Leitch — Jazz Articles
Sylvia Levine Leitch interviews longtime jazz producer and presenter Todd Barkan about his life in service of jazz
In this latest interview in my series, "In the Service of Jazz," Todd Barkan—Director of Programming and, literally, the voice of jazz for Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as record producer, former club owner and musician—talks about his life in jazz. That life almost came to an abrupt and violent end February 13, 2011, when Todd was involved in a serious car accident driving home to the Bronx on the West Side Highway in New York in his trusty Mercury Sable from a night working with this music he loves. As he recalls from his hospital bed a week later, "An SUV travelling at least 100 miles an hour rear-ended me and propelled my car with such force that it smashed into a tree and landed back onto the highway facing the opposite direction." Todd suffered multiple fractures to his lower leg and to his clavicle, and serious bruises from the force of the air bag. "You know," he shared, "those air bags don't just inflate around you gently. They explode on impact." A kind taxi driver witnessed the accident, called the police, and stayed at the scene to tell what had happened—the SUV took off. And, in an odd twist, Todd's cell phone redialed the last call received before the airbag hit it. So pianist Monte Alexander was treated to a bizarre soundtrack of sirens in the wee hours of Sunday morning, he and his wife thinking it must be one of Todd's latest musical ideas. "They had no idea," Todd chuckled.