O Grande Amor
After those two interludes, I will try to pick up the chronological stitch again in the 1980’s. My interest in dance music continued unabated. This was true concerning jazz too. I kept delving into the past masters of big band jazz and the legendary trios, quartets and smaller ensembles of yesteryear. Thanks to a local radio station WCDB in Albany that began broadcasting in 1986 I heard more contemporary artists. The options were limited prior to internet radio and online cd and vinyl sales outlets. Whenever we visited NYC Tower Records and other record stores were mandatory stops. In addition we saw live jazz in NYC at Small’s, The Village Vanguard and Sweet Basil. A Place For Jazz in Schenectady NY also booked quality jazz names and charged $15 a head. Those same groups would cost $40+ per person in NYC.
In 1985, a coworker at the NY State Department of Cube Farm told me about a club in NYC called The Paradise Garage. Friday was straight night and Saturday was gay. The venue was only open for those two days a week. It was the downtown counterpoint to Studio 54. We went there on both nights on different trips to NYC. The gay night was much more alive and the dancing was better. Lots of love and emotion. It was a special place and is revered to this day. At the time The Garage had the best sound system in NYC and the ante-room was featured in a Woody Allen movie. The vibe is not easily described. You had to experience it. It was the longest running club in NYC. Larry Levan and other DJ’s honed a style that became known as Garage Music.
In the early 1990’s we took our first trip to the Caribbean. Guadeloupe was our destination after we read a small piece in the NY Times about its allure. The second day there we took a bus into Pointe-à-Pitre. As soon as we got on the bus we noticed that the whole bus was swaying back and forth to music strange but pleasant to our ears. The bass-heavy sound systems on the buses were better than most sound systems in people’s homes in this country. We later learned that what was moving the people on the bus to sway back and forth was cadence (a two-three clave), the precursor to zouk. We had brought a radio so that we could tune into the 40 stations on the island. There were DJ’s in the supermarkets. It was a welcome surprise discovery for both of us. There were two seasoned musicians who played at our hotel, The Callinago. Remy Cabarrus had played in Paris for 17 years and still lives on Basse Terre. Danny Dimbas was the other. He was one of the founding members of Typical Combo. Sadly he passed away in 2017. I met people at our hotel who came from French Guiana to listen and dance to Danny and Remy! It was then I realized how good these musicians were. These two people were very humble and approachable. This accessibility was very unlike what we had experienced with most music stars in this country. Remy took us to his friend’s home for lunch and gave us a tour of Les Saintes off the coast of the main island. Danny had us to his home for drinks one afternoon. The people of Guadeloupe are some of the most friendly people that we have met anywhere. They also have a great sense of humor. That first trip to the island was a life changing event. It opened our ears to music that will live forever in our hearts and souls.