Something happens when you get a chance to see Afro-Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez perform. First of all, his smile radiates. It's hard to imagine someone happier than he is to make music in front of people; and as we saw during his turn behind Bob Boilen's desk, he mesmerizes with this almost otherworldly talent on congas. His hands can be a blur because they move so quickly. To the untrained eye, it's hard to see exactly what he is doing to draw out the sounds he does from his drums. I even know a little about playing hand drums and it still doesn't make it easier to fathom his remarkable talent.
Pedrito Martinez has gathered around him musicians who are helping him make the music he hears in his head. As you'll hear, it's full of twists and turns and unexpected stops that resolve into grooves so ferocious it's hard to resist moving your entire body in appreciation.
This particular performance at the Tiny Desk is highlighted by a stunning, unaccompanied conga solo that dazzled both neophytes and long-time fans of Afro-Cuban music.
Go ahead. Watch it repeatedly. It will still amaze each time you watch it.
Pedrito Martinez: percussion, lead vocals; Sebastian Natal: electric bass, vocals; Jhair Sala: percussion, vocals; Issac Delgado Jr.: keyboard, vocals
Producers: Felix Contreras, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kimani Oletu, Beck Harlan, Kara Frame; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Production Assistant: Adelaide Sandstrom; Photo: Amr Alfiky/NPR