Friday, August 2, 2013

A Perfect Evening.

When Time Out Chicago was still a print publication, I enjoyed a column that was called "Your Perfect Weekend" or something like that, where they highlighted select events that didn't conflict on the schedule. I kinda had my perfect day yesterday, as little reminders of this blog's guiding philosophy kept popping up.

The first event was a no-brainer, given the title of this blog. Victor Garcia is a very talented jazz trumpeter who got to showcase a project on a major outdoor stage for the Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series curated by the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Garcia called his project Crossing Borders, and what he did was interpret the music of his Mexican ancestry through a a modern jazz lens. He hired a 13 piece band made up of musicians from both jazz and folkloric backgrounds, then wrote new arrangements for them. The whole enterprise came off magnificently, but I was especially thrilled when a dance melody from Jalisco was wedded to the birthplace of jazz through a lively New Orleans brass band arrangement. Really good stuff.

That concert wrapped up around 8:30, but the other event that I wanted to check out didn't start until 10:30. That left time for a stop at La Pasadita, a hole in the wall Mexican eatery that has perhaps the best carne asada tacos in the city.  When the restaurant opened in 1976, it was in a solidly Mexican area. The same address now sits on the eastern edge of a hipster enclave. As a consequence, the mix of diners at any given moment leans a bit more toward gringo than Latino. I thought, well, there's another migration, but not one you typically think of that way. The newcomers here are young folks from the suburbs or maybe another midwestern city that isn't, well, Chicago. Like any migration, though, the purpose is the same: to seek a better life.

As 10:30 approached, we got back in the car and headed up the street a couple of miles to Barra ñ, a tiny nightspot run by Argentinians who also own Tango Sur and a neighboring grocer on the north side and also recently opened a Latin American lounge and restaurant in the aforementioned hipster enclave. Barra ñ was hosting a DJ session by Coba Sound System, who are at the core of Novalima, the Afro-Peruvian group I wrote about last week. The bar was packed with people of varying skin tones drinking and dancing in very close proximity. As the DJs got deeper into their groove and I began to surrender to the rhythm, I realized that the underlying beat was derived from house music, which was more or less invented in, wait for it... Chicago!  There you have it: Chicago music conquers the international club scene, only to return to it's birthplace by a couple of guys from Peru.

I was up way too late last night.

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