Better than... standing in line next door to get a $7 sausage.
Last night, amid the racks of clothes and enormous spread of Cuban and tubed-meat offerings at Apolis' Common Gallery, Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez provided a sampling of his Quincy Jones-produced debut album for a crowd equally interested in the sounds and the styles.
Rodriguez is poised to have a very good year in Los Angeles. Tomorrow night he'll be headlining at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica before performing alongside drummer Francisco Mela (who appears on Rodriguez's debut) and guitarist Lionel Loueke as part of the "Global Gumbo All Stars" at this year's Playboy Jazz Festival in mid-June.
At the jazz festival's yearly meet-and-greet last February, a startled Rodriguez was pulled up onstage to banter with the MC, Bill Cosby. "Oh, man, Cosby. That was something," says Rodriguez with a smile. He survived the comedic juggernaut ready for anything.
The crowd that gathered last night was probably the best-dressed crowd you will ever see at a jazz gig in Los Angeles. From the denim aprons sported by the bartenders to the scarves-as-accessories crew that dug into the Argentinean wines offered, everyone in the room had made more than one pass at the mirror before leaving the house. This was the kind of audience that consumes infinitely more cloves (whether it is via cocktails or coffee) than the Old Navy crowd.
Around 9 p.m., Rodriguez engaged in a brief question and answer session with host Shea Parton. The two covered everything from Quincy Jones to the tenacity of Mexican border control before making way for the spider-fingered Rodriguez to justify the renting of a gorgeous Steinway piano.