"Vikram is doing a terrific job," Citigroup chairman Richard Parsons told us of the bank's CEO at last night's annual benefit loft party for the Jazz Foundation of America, of which he is also a chairman. "He really, actually is." Good enough to get a raise from the $1 yearly salary he's been taking in 2011? Parsons nodded. "Citi is regaining its stability and its position as a preeminent financial institution," he said. "And the man deserves to be paid." With that, Parsons, who was auctioning off a two-week stay in the "farm house" on his Tuscan Vineyard in order to help fund the JFA's mission of helping elderly jazz and blues musicians recover from the financial crisis, was done with shop talk.
"I love jazz!" he said enthusiastically, when asked how he had gotten involved with the organization. "I love the people who make the music and have made the music historically, many of who now need our help and our assistance." He doesn't play any instruments himself; "the lack of talent and other pursuits kind of squeezed it out." But he likes to come to JFA events and play host with his wife Laura, instructing newbies like ourselves to wander around and sample the musical offerings. "I come to these events and I circulate," he said. Circulate while looking stylish, we might add: Parsons was clad in black pants, a black shirt, and a black leather jacket from Rochester Big & Tall, which we noted he was wearing at the same event last year. "I don't have any other jacket," he shrugged, adding, "None of this is going to find its way into the magazine, I hope." Why? we asked. What's wrong with writing about your jacket? "Because someone might try and take it from me," he said. What, why? "Because it works. It works." Not long after, a pretty young jazz pianist came up, handed Parsons a CD, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Mmm-hmmm," Parsons said, as she departed. "Leather jacket."