Sunday, December 30, 2012

time travel...Al gets there on time, every time...

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 12/29/12

You can laugh all you like. You can even give me strange looks. I don't care. I did it. I traveled back in time. You're still laughing. Well I'll prove it-----About 17 years ago Dr. Jules Oaklander (JAZZophile-Opera Lover--Ballet Aficionado) suggested to the powers that be at MOCA in North Miami that monthly JAZZ concerts would enhance the image of the museum. The program started slowly, drawing crowds of less than 60 or 65. Last night there were about 500 JAZZ lovers enjoying the music and  travelling with me to yesteryear. The band was Tito Puente Jr. Junior is proud of his father's musical accomplishments and pays homage by playing music made famous by his Dad. He spoke of the Palladium back in the day and that's how my trip started. Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, Meringue---the captivating clave rhythm---BANG--1949--A  Wednesday night--about 8 o'clock--me and a couple of guys are walking up Broadway to 53d St. Our pants are pegged, jacket lapels wide, shirts with Billy Eckstine collars and hand painted ties from Cardinal($1). The ballroom is up a long straight flight of stairs. The admission is small change.. The place smells of smoke of every kind including cigarettes and cigars. "Killer Joe" is just finishing his "dance lessons". There ain't nobody I hang with who can't dance better than him and we let him know it. He is not appreciative of our commentary. The first of the three bands starts with a mambo and the dance floor comes alive. Tito Puente is 25 years old and looks 19. He has an amazing smile and sticks his tongue out when playing difficult passages. The young girls love him and I am loving these young girls from all over New York. The next band is Tito Rodriguez and to this day I think he was a better singer than all of them except Ol' Blue Eyes. Third up was Machito--watch out--serious, innovative dancers only. In those years New York Night clubs closed at 4AM on weeknights. They stopped serving liquor at 4 but couldn't get everybody out until 5 or 5:30 'cause guys would get up to jam. So last night I was at the Palladium in 1949---RanKanKan, Oye Como Va--Celia Cruz, Jose Curbelo, Ray Baretto.
Tito Jr's voice broke my reverie. He was introducing his band. Keyboard and director, bass player, Conga, Percussion, Trumpet and Jr. himself on timbales. I admit to being remiss in not getting members names. They were all sensational. Closing out the show everyone took a turn at playing timabales and even playing "floor". Thank you Tito Puente Jr. for a trip back in time.   

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