Congas and Captives and Courics

NPR's Felix Contreras

hide captionNPR's Felix Contreras, the conguero of the Afro-Bop Alliance.

Katie Couric attends Tony Bennett's 80th birthday celebration in New York, Aug. 3, 2006.

hide captionAlthough she hasn't yet debuted on CBS Evening News, Katie Couric may already be eyeing NPR as a future career possibility.

Good Morning. At least it is for me, your faithful correspondent for the next couple of days at the NPR blog that likes its signals the same way it likes its drinks. And, for that matter, its metaphors.

This morning I woke up with a bit of a percussive beat in my head... in a good way. Not to get all Tito Puente on you, but Friday evening I went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts here in your nation's capital, where I caught a free concert by the Afro-Bop Alliance, an Afro-Cuban jazz septet. So did several hundred other folks.

Why am I drawn to this band like a moth to Boog's Barbeque? It probably involves the fact that my NPR arts desk colleague Felix Contreras makes up one-seventh of Afro-bop. He is the band's conguero, which I learned means he performs congas and percussion. And he does it with the passion of a master. Felix is too modest to say this, but the group is terrific. And plus, I think he invented velcro. That last one is just a hunch. I could be wrong.

Then I was brought back to Earth by reading the first installment of Jill Carroll's account of how she was kidnapped in Iraq. She was a freelancer reporting for the Christian Science Monitor — and she clearly thought she was going to be killed pretty much from the outset. It's the start of a tough but compelling story.

And lastly, I'd like to be the first to announce the arrival of my new colleague, Katie Couric. I realize that she doesn't start as the anchor of the CBS Evening News until next month, and that, no, technically, she hasn't joined NPR, or even said she ever would, but she told Parade magazine that she might want to. Here's the money quote, courtesy of the ever-useful TVNewser.com:

"On her future: 'It's not as though I know I'm going to be on the air until I'm 75... I don't know how long I'm going to do this. I may want to write. I may want to work for NPR. I don't know what I'll do.'"

Back after the 9:30 budget meeting...

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