Boom-cha ... ching-ching da boom da da boom ... ching ba-da-ba boom chingboomboomboom ... cha-ding ... bing ... bop daboom boomdadoom ... booooommm. Yeeeeaaaah! With a touch as hard as a hammer or as soft as silk, depending on the tune and tone, Bobby Thomas (as the North Miami Beach native/South Miami resident is known worldwide) has had a hand in creating countless moments of jazzy splendor. Lacking an instrument for teacher-mandated classroom jam sessions during elementary school, little Bobby used his desk to pound out beats that would eventually lead to collaborations with many jazz greats. While he developed his chops around town, Thomas hooked up with Jet Nero and was discovered by the late bass legend and local hero Jaco Pastorius, who recruited the skin slapper for a little thing called Weather Report, a collective many consider the most potent jazz-rock outfit of the Seventies and early Eighties. Sax maniac Wayne Shorter created Weather Report with keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who is said to live in South Florida -- reunion jam! reunion jam! Actually Thomas has reunited with an old cohort, the great Monty Alexander; in March the two were performing shows regularly and planning a tour to Spain. The coolest aspect of Thomas's approach is how anything becomes an instrument: bongo, conga, snare, school desk, bicycle, garbage can lid.... Thomas's inventiveness led Zawinul to dub him the world's first "hand drummer." Boom ... cha-ding!

Boom-cha ... ching-ching da boom da da boom ... ching ba-da-ba boom chingboomboomboom ... cha-ding ... bing ... bop daboom boomdadoom ... booooommm. Yeeeeaaaah! With a touch as hard as a hammer or as soft as silk, depending on the tune and tone, Bobby Thomas (as the North Miami Beach native/South Miami resident is known worldwide) has had a hand in creating countless moments of jazzy splendor. Lacking an instrument for teacher-mandated classroom jam sessions during elementary school, little Bobby used his desk to pound out beats that would eventually lead to collaborations with many jazz greats. While he developed his chops around town, Thomas hooked up with Jet Nero and was discovered by the late bass legend and local hero Jaco Pastorius, who recruited the skin slapper for a little thing called Weather Report, a collective many consider the most potent jazz-rock outfit of the Seventies and early Eighties. Sax maniac Wayne Shorter created Weather Report with keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who is said to live in South Florida -- reunion jam! reunion jam! Actually Thomas has reunited with an old cohort, the great Monty Alexander; in March the two were performing shows regularly and planning a tour to Spain. The coolest aspect of Thomas's approach is how anything becomes an instrument: bongo, conga, snare, school desk, bicycle, garbage can lid.... Thomas's inventiveness led Zawinul to dub him the world's first "hand drummer." Boom ... cha-ding!

One thing Bayside Marketplace didn't have, until recently, was land-and-sea tours. Literally. Thanks to Miami Duck Tours, passengers ride around the streets on the odd-looking World War II style vehicles (it's a truck! it's a boat!) and see the sights. Then the vehicles slide into Biscayne Bay for a water-based view of other sights. By land and by sea, it's definitely a different way to get a look around, providing a tourist magnet and a new diversion for locals as well. And when the bus-boat completes its journey and patrons disembark, there is no enemy army awaiting to assault them. Not usually anyway.

The filler-music providers described in Billy Joel's old song deserve a hefty tip for nothing else but forcing out "Stormy Monday" or "As Time Goes By" for the millionth time. Life's better, though, when this tall, dark, and T-shirted Dharma Bomb frontman and soloist sits at a Steinway or Baldwin and makes the hammers dance across the strings via his nuanced, evocative fingering of the 88s. Emotion mounts in a quiet place of grace, with nothing but the flowing and surging of piano precision beneath his eloquent vocals. Whether he's intonating thoughtful songs from his own catalogue of tunes or rephrasing the words of more famous cover songs to fit the situation, Thompson always finds the right touch.

The filler-music providers described in Billy Joel's old song deserve a hefty tip for nothing else but forcing out "Stormy Monday" or "As Time Goes By" for the millionth time. Life's better, though, when this tall, dark, and T-shirted Dharma Bomb frontman and soloist sits at a Steinway or Baldwin and makes the hammers dance across the strings via his nuanced, evocative fingering of the 88s. Emotion mounts in a quiet place of grace, with nothing but the flowing and surging of piano precision beneath his eloquent vocals. Whether he's intonating thoughtful songs from his own catalogue of tunes or rephrasing the words of more famous cover songs to fit the situation, Thompson always finds the right touch.

In our fantasy, the best place for a first date would be an exotic faraway locale like Casablanca or Spain's Costa del Sol. We'd meet in secret under the stars, perhaps pursued by nefarious forces, in the ruin of an old Moorish castle by the sea. You would look stunning in the half-light, gingerly stepping around a peacock as you approach through the rubble. We would kiss furtively, then part, fearing for our safety yet certain to meet again. In the meantime, let's meet at the restored Olympia Theater at the Gusman in downtown Miami. The faux Moorish architecture and simulated night sky will do for a setting. A peacock stares out from a box beside the stage. You will look stunning as you step gingerly up the steep balcony stairs, perhaps pursued by an usher, your hands filled with popcorn. If we pick the right night, Casablanca may be on the screen. We can kiss furtively when the lights dim. Whatever happens next, we'll always have the Gusman.

A few seasons ago Tim James carried the University of Miami Hurricanes basketball team to its greatest heights, making it to the NCAA tournament known as "March Madness." He then qualified for the Miami Heat's twelve-player roster. Nothing came of it, though, and he was soon gone. This year Miami native and former Miami High School star Udonis Haslem not only made the Heat roster, he's made a mark with skills far exceeding those of most rookies. Strong, fearless, and gifted, you can bet that this Miami product will be burning net and grabbing rock in the NBA for many years. Let's hope the Heat is smart enough to keep the young, versatile forward here in the sunshine, and, with starting forward Caron Butler's injury-related problems, in the spotlight as well.

An exhilarating exploration of contemporary jazz and improvised music hosted by Steve Malagodi, this stellar program for many years was broadcast by WLRN-FM (91.3), Miami's National Public Radio affiliate. It was one of our community's true cultural treasures. Then the station's management abruptly decided to kill it. Why? Not enough listeners -- as if the goal of public radio was the same as commercial radio: Attract the largest audience possible by any means necessary. Malagodi, who has worked at WLRN since 1977, signed off for the last time at 2:00 a.m. October 13. He's still at the station as an engineer, but his Modern School has found a new home at community-supported WDNA-FM. The station's managers gave Malagodi his favorite time slot (Saturday, 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) and thumbed their collective noses at WLRN. Good for them. Even better for Miami.

An exhilarating exploration of contemporary jazz and improvised music hosted by Steve Malagodi, this stellar program for many years was broadcast by WLRN-FM (91.3), Miami's National Public Radio affiliate. It was one of our community's true cultural treasures. Then the station's management abruptly decided to kill it. Why? Not enough listeners -- as if the goal of public radio was the same as commercial radio: Attract the largest audience possible by any means necessary. Malagodi, who has worked at WLRN since 1977, signed off for the last time at 2:00 a.m. October 13. He's still at the station as an engineer, but his Modern School has found a new home at community-supported WDNA-FM. The station's managers gave Malagodi his favorite time slot (Saturday, 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) and thumbed their collective noses at WLRN. Good for them. Even better for Miami.

These are tough times for the people of Haiti. And it's not just the Caribbean nation that's in turmoil. The axis of Kreyol culture seems to have spun off balance here in Miami, at least when it comes to the local compas scene. First, the beloved and highly popular Gracia Delva, lead singer for the top-rated band Zenglen, gets caught up in the indiscriminate net of Homeland Security and is sent back to Haiti. Then one of Miami's other top compas acts, D'Zine, disbands after failing to form a supergroup with members of Zenglen. Now, thanks to the efforts of DJ Paz and DJ Lucky, matters become even less linear. Taking members from D'Zine, the two DJs have mixed in just the right amount of sweet hip-hop harmony to form Nu-Look, a band that has stormed Miami and is also hitting stages in New York, Boston, and the Bahamas. But watch out. Delva may return at any time, and rumors of a new band called Hang Out contribute to continued chaos.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®