An Evening at Senses Bistro with Sacha Boutros

by John Rippo

I got to Senses Bistro a few minutes past six, expecting the show to be underway. As it turned out, I was early. The bistro interior was clothed in blue light shading the uprights; visions of the street outside contrasted with the calm within. The room filled up quickly with people milling about, ordering wine, waiting for their food and chatting; it seemed like much of the crowd knew each other and it had all the feeling of a gathering of old friends coming to hear Sacha Boutros, Irving Flores and others for an evening of excellent jazz.

Sound checks happened and a reel of Sacha’s music smoothed the room as musicians assembled and readied their instruments. Tonight’s show was one of the regular Tuesday happenings at UCSD’s Park and Market, a series gathering a following of those willing to travel to the verge of East Village at the end of downtown. Senses Bistro has become a kind of beacon for the culturally hip; one that feels unusually intimate for its size. The place has growing promise and exudes good taste.

Sacha stood behind me, speaking to Irving Flores about arranging the first set. Their comments were clipped and straightforward; they decided what to do and moved toward the stage. This is a small area in front of a circular stairway that adds a kind of odd backdrop to the talent. And then she began to sing.

It’s been years since I’ve heard her and her incredibly rich and broad sound depth stunned me. Her talent always did that and I relaxed the quiet corner and let the music reign over me. Wise thing to do. A calm happiness filled the room as all action stopped to focus on her and the talent backing her. Listening to her is like being wrapped in a velvet cloud.

Unfortunately for me, a text came in at the end of the first set, and I had to be elsewhere, pronto. Thus ended too soon a fine night with Sacha Boutrous at Senses. I’ll be back, soon, and recommend you do the same.

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