"Congui Congui Music"
I sat at the bar and ordered a Brooklyn Winter.
Dizzy's is a wonderful venue for live music. The slightly elevated stage rests against the cold glass wall, which offers a marvelous view of Columbus Circle, glowing all red and white and constant. The room is oasis-shapedcurving all around, narrowing and widening. Reservations are required to sit at one of the many tables that occupy the floor, but the view is excellent from any of the tall chairs that line the curved walls extending from the entrance and working all the way around to the bar.
Arturo O'Farrill's Sextet took the stage at 7:45. O'Farrill, seeming perfectly happy and calm and at home, began with a story:
"I was about to leave for a show one night when my wife stopped me and asked: 'So, what kind of a show are you playing tonightone of those 'congui, congui, congui' shows?'
"But, you know, us Latinos are not just all about 'congui congui music'. There's much more to us than that. So, I want to start tonight with a contemporary piece. But, there's one thing you should know. I want you to know that I composed this piece in the middle of the ocean. Yes. We were on a ten-day cruise for which we were scheduled to play one 75-minute set. The rest of the time, we were left on our own. That's right. So, I had a lot of free time on my hands, and I used that time to compose this piece."
Having said this, O'Farrill took his place at the piano before adding:
"It's called 'No Way Out.'"
After charming the crowd with his sense of humor, O'Farrill continued to charm the crowd with his music. So much more than simply congui congui music, the sound that the O'Farrill Sextet created was fiery, relevant, stimulating, and, indeed, some sort of seamless bridge between modern jazz and salsaa swinging, swirling set of Afro-Cuban Bebop. I wanted to jump from my seat, pull a woman from one of the tables, and dance around the room.
Dafnis Prieto, drums
Pedro Martinez (no, not that Pedro Martinez), congas
John Benitez, bass
Willie Williams, tenor saxophone
Jim Seeley, trumpet
Arturo O'Farrill, piano