Rooftop Concert

(C) 2011 by Metta Anderson. All Rights Reserved

It’s 11:15 p.m. in Bogotá. Clear night, full moon. Cool with no breeze. A few clouds in the night sky. Most of my neighbors have gone to bed. It’s Tuesday, after all.

When I walk the dogs around 10:30, I hear someone trying to play a well-known BeeGees’ number (whose title, of course, escapes me at the moment). It’s an alto sax and even when the notes aren’t quite right, the sound floats out in the cool night air with peculiar intimacy. Just me, a quiet night and those notes.

As I get close to my building, I realize the musician is on the roof of the building next to mine. After I’ve locked up for the night, I go upstairs to my roof (actually as area with a roof, three rooms, a bathroom and a lot of space; I call it the terrace).

From the top of the stairs, I look over and see the musician and two friends in silhouette against the illuminated Hotel Continental four blocks away. Given the acoustics of the neighborhood, the sax can be heard at the hotel. I see a few figures in windows.

The young man stops playing the BeeGees and starts with “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” which he plays a little haltingly. It’s a new piece for him. He breaks off and then continues with a cumbia composed by Lucho Bermúdez long before this guy was born (but around the time that I was). He plays with pizzazz and confidence and everyone hearing the sax wants to dance, I’m sure of it.

Back to “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” but briefly, and then another cumbia before returning to a complete rendition of the BeeGees.

I walk around the terrace, go into my studio illuminated by the full moon and street lights a block away. The music from the sax just wanders and curves around and floats in the night air, a golden silk ribbon free of gravity or any other anchor. Daniel Barenboim’s kinetic sculpture at 9,000 feet above sea level on a chilly September night.

I stand at the top of the stairs again. I listen, grinning in the dark at my luck in living in a place where impromptu concerts happen often. I watch the silhouettes on the other terrace roof, as one of the musician’s friends dances around happily hidden from other people’s stares and opinions, just groovin’ and movin’ with the music in the night.

Finally, the musician stops. Concert over. His friends pass him a bottle of wine. I start to go downstairs in the dark.

Who needs New York, when I’ve got Bogotá?

(C) 2011 by Metta Anderson – All Rights Reserved

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