St. Anthony’s Church strikes ten, and in the back room of Coco 66 in Greenpoint, heavy formica bar tables and flimsy matchbook chairs are the only audience members for three jazz musicians, a standup bassist, a trumpeter, and a sturdy white-haired flugelhorn player. These guys are playing it cool, but there’s something strange going on tonight, something unexpectedly cathartic—the bass player is rubbing his forehead against his fretboard while playing barely audible eighth notes. The flugelhorn has a mute in it and is incessantly repeating ascending notes, like wind blowing over musical grass.
By 11pm, there are a couple of cross-legged chaps nodding with affirmation, their foreheads still holding beads of sweat from the swampy weather outside. A drunk from the sidewalk has just wandered in, into the middle of the musicians and announces, “These guys have so much talent!” He disrupts the spell, and they stop playing, but they smile when they realize he’s just an admirer.
When midnight strikes, the show is just starting to begin. Resident jazz troop 2s and 4s have just taken the stage. The DJ announces that this is not actually a show: it is a seance! The 2s and 4s tenor sax player, his face darkened by a Mets cap, is controlling a slide projector, and an image of the King of Pop layered over a blond woman is on the screen. Next he flips to a hand-drawn psychedelic jazz game card that will govern the sequence of their playing, somehow. The drums begin to percolate, the bass notes rise and fall like a loft elevator, and at some point, one of the members walks into an adjacent room and trumpets behind a door. It is bonkers. The drummers skip and shuffle and the horns cry like diamonds beneath the Newtown Creek. And I’m thinking, there are hardly enough audience members to keep these guys playing! At the Iridium you’d have to pay sixty bucks to see this!
And this concludes a typical, atypical Tues night at Coco 66. Coco 66 has a new booking company and they will be putting on many new events. Jazz usually starts Tuesdays at 10pm, (even though the fliers say 10:30) and is free.