Terraza 7Posted: July 24, 2012
9:53pm – Twenty-three minutes after the jam session should have started, there was still no sign of any live music about to happen at Terraza 7 Live Music. I was wondering if they canceled the regular Sunday hang in observance of the Colombian Independence Day weekend when someone ran in and threw a lead sheet down on the keyboard bench. The other musicians followed shortly thereafter and the music finally started nearly an hour later than advertised. I guess they were just running on South American time. My friends and I showed up late to a Brazilian birthday party once and had to return after another hour or so because we were early.
Bassist John Benitez led the session with his son, drummer Francis Benitez (Colombia/Puerto Rico/Bronx), pianist Axel Tosca (Cuba), percussionist Eddie Muñoz (Dominican Republic) and another percussionist known simply as “Sebastian from Germany.” It was a good thing I had brushed up on my non-existent Spanish skills the night before by watching the Uruguayan film, El Baño del Papa (The Pope’s Toilet); John bantered and introduced the band entirely in Spanish, although he did say something about a drug-free stage and freedom in English.
Terraza Café had a relaxed, homey atmosphere with a hanging wire-mesh floor stage, level with the second floor. Lingering under the stage is not recommended, unless you are hoping for an accidental beer shower from above, which was in the forecast that night. Also, if you’ll be on stage, do not wear a skirt or a dress.
The sole bathroom was truly unisex in that it housed both a toilet and a urinal in the same space. The exposed pipe faucets fit the décor although they didn’t have the best action, making the water flow slightly difficult to control. Hanging paper towel and toilet paper rolls from the ceiling with twine worked for a venue like this, which also had a hammock hanging in the upstairs area. I wouldn’t call the bathroom clean but it did have character.
One of the few jazz spots in the Queens borough, this place exudes a genuine communal vibe, full of people from the neighborhood hanging out to listen and a friendly house band that personally yells out jam session participants by name to the stage. Plus you will undoubtedly pick up some Spanish and can put that to use buying a carne empanada down the street.
I was enjoying my empanada while waiting for the 7 at the Jackson Heights stop when a crazy man started trying to chat me up. To look occupied, I took out my notepad and was about to reach for my lead pencil when I thought to myself that I might have to stab him with my writing utensil. Then I grabbed a green ballpoint pen instead because I like my pencil and want to keep using it.
I think I’ve read one too many articles on weapon control and violence lately.
John Benitez tells us how to say, “Where’s the restroom?” in Spanish —