Every Sunday at 6 P.M., the Church of the Ascension, a Catholic parish on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, offers a Mass at which, according to the church website, “a jazz trio plays original compositions, arrangements of traditional hymns and music by composers such as Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.”
The website also notes that “shortly after the . . . Jazz Mass started at Ascension” (about a decade ago) “a bewildered parishioner” approached the pastor “to express disapproval. . . . She didn’t think jazz was appropriate for church and . . . she felt like she ‘should have a martini in her hand.’”
And so was born the tradition of Martini Night. It is described on the Ascension website (click on the tab for “Ministries”) as “the . . . Jazz Mass’ interpretation of the traditional church coffee hour or potluck. On the first Sunday of the month, we gather after Mass for fellowship, food and all kinds of drinks and, yes, martinis.”
There’s a dedicated email address for anyone “with questions, to volunteer, or if you would like to be added to our email reminder list.” The address is (what else?) MartiniMass@aol.com.