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Tribeca resident Mitch Frohman, 58, has been appointed a new member of Community Board 1. A public member of C.B. 1 for the last four years, Frohman has joined the board’s Quality of Life and Affordable Housing Committees. Frohman, a professional saxophonist and flutist, is best known for his bubbly sax riff that completes the opening theme song of “Sex and the City.” During a coffee with the Downtown Express at 92Y Tribeca, Frohman spoke to his ambitions as a C.B. 1 board member and his international career as a performing artist. _ By Aline Reynolds
Why did you decide to join Community Board 1?
When I was performing with Tito Puente, we were traveling all around the world, extensively. Since he passed away, I’m not traveling as much. I started to go to a couple of committee meetings to get a little more involved in the community and met some nice people — specifically, Pat Moore from the Quality of Life Committee, who welcomed me as a public member. I’ve now been heavily involved in the community board for the last four years and see you can make a difference through working within the system. I think that my experience of traveling to many countries around the world — from the most modern countries to the poorest countries — and dealing with all types of people in my life has given me a unique perspective in solving problems.
How does one become a member of C.B. 1?
Every year, you apply. The first time, you’re interviewed — and they usually only have a couple of slots available. The board is looking for people who have shown they’ve been contributing community members over time — ones that are not in it for personal gain but have altruistic motives.
What are a few civic issues you have advocated as a C.B. 1 public member, and which topics do you hope to weigh in on as a board member?
As a public member, I gave some input when they were planning on cutting some of the bus routes — like the M22, which is not always the most populated bus but serves some of the neediest residents in our communities. I felt I was instrumental in giving some testimony at the meetings to influence our chair to make it a priority to get them saved. I am also concerned about affordable housing: I’m a big fan of the developers where, in order to get tax breaks, they have to provide a certain portion of subsidized apartments, whether they be low- or middle-income. What I’d like to see is, through some pressure by the city, to make buildings 70 percent market-rate, 30-percent subsidized — or 60-40 — rather than 80-20, because developers are not going to do it on their own.
So, let’s switch to your musical career. Which Downtown venues do you perform at?
S.O.B.’s [Sounds of Brazil], on Houston and Varick Streets, is one of the few places that really is still going strong from the ’70s that we play at. It is a comfortable, non-snooty place that welcomes all types of people. I play with a few different bands there, including the Mambo Legends Orchestra, made up of the former all-stars of the Tito Puente orchestra; the Bronx Horns, a Tito Puente-like ensemble; and Eddie Torres and his Mambo Kings Orchestra, with dance choreography. In fact, on Nov. 16, I’ll be there with the Mambo Legends Orchestra, and on Nov. 30, I’ll be there with the Eddie Torres show.
How did you pull off the “Sex and the City” gig? I’ve been dying to ask!
It was just another record job somebody called me about. The person who called said it was for some new TV show that was going to be coming out. We ended up recording the music for the first five episodes of ‘Sex and the City’ before they changed over the band. It seems that it was something they recorded, they liked and then used it for the theme. We recorded the music, and a few months later, one of my friends called me up and said, ‘Did you record this music for this new TV show?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s me!’ But H.B.O. never paid the royalties they were supposed to; it’s been an ongoing struggle. That being said, I’m very proud to have done that, and it’s amazing how often I get asked about that as I travel around the world.