It’s Memorial Day in Manhattan, and Eddie Palmieri and his band are holding court at Subrosa, the since-shuttered underground Latin club in the increasingly chic Meatpacking District. From mid-April until its June closing (the club is currently looking for a new home), the pianist led a Monday-night residency at the 120-capacity room, and for this evening he’s assembled a killer band: longtime accompanists Nicky Marrero on timbales and Little Johnny Rivero on congas, with Luques Curtis playing bass and Donald Harrison sitting in on alto saxophone. Later, trumpeter Brian Lynch and a second alto player, Louis Fouché, will join in, and for one tune Palmieri will generously turn over his piano bench to Zaccai Curtis, Luques’ brother.
The quintet is only several minutes into its opening number, jamming on a smooth groove, when a loud, piercing sound interrupts: The club’s fire alarm is going off. Harrison and the others turn to the boss for a cue. There is obviously no danger, and Palmieri, understandably, is annoyed. The band stops playing and he calls out to no one in particular, wondering who can make it stop. The sound continues for five minutes straight.