Sunday, April 10, 2005

Book parties may have had their day. Circulate a “CD release party” invite instead and literally hundreds will show up.

At least they did on Saturday night when the hosts were go-go social duo Jeffrey Weiss and Juleanna Glover Weiss and the CD talent was Washington’s own Eric Felten, jazz vocalist and trombonist, celebrating his fifth release.

His current effort, “Eric Felten Meets the Dek-Tette,” is a throwback of sorts, a tribute to song stylist Mel Torme and his “nice open sound” from late ‘50s. It was, Mr. Felten explained, a collaboration with four men now in their 70s who had been with Mr. Torme at the height of his fame when they were “the young Turks of the L.A. scene,” producing “a very cool sound.” But it’s a far different world now from the hip, louche lifestyles of the beat era, the savvy Mr. Felten admitted as he greeted guests in the double living room during one of his trio’s mid-evening breaks. By day, he noted, he hosts a TV show on Voice of America. “I’m one of the few jazz musicians with a dental insurance plan,” he said with a laugh.

The Weisses’ Wyoming Avenue NW home was ablaze with light, the Kalorama neighborhood clogged with double-parked cars awaiting valet service as the sounds of music and 300 or more chattering guests poured onto the street on one of the season’s most amenable evenings. “I’d eat now; it’s going to get crowded,” Mrs. Weiss told early arrivals whom she greeted with the special drink of the night: marinated pineapple juice and vodka.” A Stoli Dole,” she joked.

Revelers quieted only briefly when Mr. Felten, costumed in sartorial wide-stripe smarts, cradled the microphone for a bit of “Cheek to Cheek” by Irving Berlin. C-Span producer Steve Scully called the guests the in-crowd of the under 40 set and pronounced himself amazed — sincerely so — to find how taken they all were with music of his father’s generation.

Looking about, age appeared to be a relative factor as guests energetically attacked platters of sushi and Mideastern fare from local restaurants before spilling onto the front lawn or rear “smokers’ terrace” to talk about the gatherings of the week (the papal funeral, Charles and Camilla’s wedding) and beyond. (Bloomberg News’ chic April 30 White House Correspondents Dinner apres-soiree, one well-placed informant revealed, is expected to take place across the street from the Weiss home on the site of the new Macedonian embassy.)

A networkers’ paradise with a musical theme, perhaps, or just a lot of people wanting to party. Among them: Lloyd and Ann Hand, Phil Merrill, Richard W. Carlson, Michelle Malek du Pont (planning an August wedding in Santa Fe to tech finance man Chris Olson), Cafe Milano’s Franco Nuschese, Rend al-Rahim, Amy Holmes, John Arundel, Tommy Quinn, “Wonkette” blogger Ana Marie Cox and journalists John Dickerson, Matt Cooper, Daniel Wattenberg, Richard Leiby, Suzanne Malveaux and David Bohrman.

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