"When people go to someone's house for the first time, they want to look through the medicine cabinet and the CD collection," reasons Rhythm Foundation director Laura Quinlan. The Rhythm Foundation's Curated Listening series, held as part of Miami Beach's Second Thursdays arts night, reveals what the music fanatics in our midst prize most. And while its success may be partly attributed to everyone's innate curiosity about their neighbors' habits, it's also a chance to listen to great, often rarely heard recordings and hang with some of Miami's most interesting people in a relaxed place.
In the compact bar at the Aqua Hotel, which feels like a cozy living room (with the bonus of friendly bartenders), the host fervently shares his or her musical passion. In the past clothing designer Fernando Garcia presented international ambient music and assorted esoterica; artist and architect team Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar offered their recordings from Caetano Veloso's London years; musician José Elias transported the audience to 1950s Africa; and artist Kevin Arrow played selections from his eccentric and expansive Sun Ra collection.
This Thursday evening the erudite and experimental musician (and Miami New Times art critic) Alfredo Triff will spin selections from his cache of recordings by celebrated Cuban vocalist Beny Moré. Cubaphiles might come to debate the merits of Moré's Conjunto Matamoros recordings versus his work with mambo king Dámaso Pérez Prado, but anyone interested in global music is welcome. No-shows won't miss out completely, though: The playlist, like others in the series, will eventually be posted on the Rhythm Foundation Website (www.rhythmfoundation.com).
"I thought this would be a different way to connect with music lovers, and it has really worked," says Quinlan, who has brought multifarious world musicians to perform in Miami over the last decade. "So many people have some special thing in their music collection, and they all want to be the DJ."