Michael Hashim has been a full-time performing and recording artist in New York City since 1979. Can we drop too many names of his employers, collaborators and teachers? They include Dizzy, Muddy Waters, Madeline Kahn, Art Spiegelman, Cab Calloway, Nancy Wilson, Phil Woods, Frank Foster, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Mark Morris Company, The Artie Shaw Orchestra, Gatemouth Brown, Widespread Depression, and on and on and on.
His discography is large and available from some nut in Holland. It includes his Kurt Weill project with strings, two Billy Strayhorn discs, Microscopic Septet, Raymond Scott Orchestrette, The Flying Neutrinos, Devil Doll and a truckload more. Hashim toured China for the State Department, also North and South America, Japan, Western Europe, all the major Jazz festivals and clubs. He composed and performed for feature Hollywood movies, documentaries, PBS Playhouse and animated cartoons.
T2C: When did you move into Manhattan Plaza and how did you get into the building?
Michael Hashim: In 1985 I helped my life-long friend, the great pianist, organist, and bandleader Michael LeDonne move in on the 39th floor. I was the only one of his colleagues who showed up and his folks drove in with a truckload of furniture etc. The Plaza excited me as a near- ideal setting for urban living so Mike showed me the office, I signed up and got into a one-bedroom, with my wife, Katherine Bourbeau, editor and photographer in 1990.
T2C: Were you there during the AIDS’s crisis? Tell us about that time.
Michael Hashim: I was in Manhattan, working as a musician and also doing some serious traveling. I was with people such as Martha Wilson of Franklin Furnace, Keith Haring, Karen Finley and more. It was scary and many groups and individuals including the gay population and POC were justly angry at being ignored, even persecuted, during a deadly plague.
T2C: Who have you made friends with in the building and have those relationships lasted?
Michael Hashim: I had plenty of friends at MP even before I moved in. Many of my best buddies have passed on: Harold Ashby, Irvin Stokes, Frank Lowe, Ray Mantilla, Lawrence Lucie, Frank Vicari, Paul Garment and Bobby Watson and Joey Baron and Phillip Johnston moved away. I have loads of friends and colleagues in both towers and am squeamish about listing them for fear of grievous addle-pated omissions!
T2C: Has the building inspired you to create new jazz pieces?
Michael Hashim: No.
T2C: What has been the biggest changes to the neighborhood and your business?
Michael Hashim: The overcrowding, both pedestrians and vehicles, is the most noticeable change in general. For me as a musician it is the loss of most of the rehearsal and recording studios, coupled with the nearly complete disappearance of the retail “music quarter” of 46th-48th St. between 6th and 8th Avenues.
T2C: What has living in the building allowed you to accomplish?
Michael Hashim: It was the key factor in allowing us to raise our brilliant beautiful daughter, Regina, in midtown, in a secure, pleasant, and stimulating atmosphere.
T2C: What was your greatest accomplishment thanks to living in the building?
Michael Hashim: I don’t mean to look at that question from a negative perspective but the Plaza has allowed me not to have a teaching job if I din’t want one. At times this has freed me, either to pursue artistic goals or arrange the complex practicalities of a performing career.
T2C: What would you change from your time living in Manhattan Plaza?
Michael Hashim: I would have put more effort into avoiding the high prices at Food Emporium!
T2C: What is your fondest memory of New York?
Michael Hashim: Impossible to answer since I have had a rich, deep, endlessly changing romance with Manhattan Island since I was 5 years old. But watching my daughter’s birth at Roosevelt Hospital on 10th Ave tops the list.
T2C: What would you like us to know that we haven’t asked you?
Michael Hashim: I would like your readers to know that MP functions as well as it does thanks hugely to the wonderful staff. So kudos to all departments for making it happen!
The documentary Miracle on 42nd Street, is available on Amazon and will soon be available to stream.