ARTURO O'FARRILL
Pianist, Composer, www.afrolatinjazz.org

“Many years ago there was a place that was the last of the Mohicans: a private bar at Columbia Street. If you passed it by, you would never know the place existed– all you could see was the brick facade and a door. But inside was the greatest juke box and bar I've ever been to. Musicians from all over the city would gather there after their gigs for a drink or two, and it was a place where I’d run into people I hadn't seen in years. It was frequented by notorious members of society as well as as lawyers and councilmen– people from all walks of life, and often, at 3:00 in the morning, musicians would swing by and we’d have some great jam sessions.

The owner of the establishment was a man named Carlos. If Carlos liked you, he’d get a twinkle in his eye and hand you a key. You could not get in by knocking. You had to have a key and know the guy working the door, although sometimes, you might knock in clave rhythm and be lucky enough to get in.The place would get filled to the brim with folks dressed their best, lookin’ all fancy to share a good time... but like all things New York, the neighborhood became gentrified. They eventually lost the building and ceased to exist. But for a minute there it felt like the fifties, it felt like everyone was beautiful, and we had a great time– listening to great music, talkin’ shit, and enjoying the company of other nocturnal folk.”

– Arturo O'Farrill