Last I wrote it was just before our trip to Brazil in September. We started out at the new Mistura Fina in Rio. One of our hosts and friends (Christian) met us and took us to a wonderful Chorascaria restaurant where we ate way too much delicious food! Mistura Fina is now situated right on Ipanema, a very beautifully distracting view! I was honored that the lovely Joyce and her husband came by for a set. I’m a huge fan of their music.

We went onto Ouro Preto, far up in the hills north of Rio. Traveling on a very deluxe bus, we got to see a lot of the country which is so welcoming after being on so many airplanes. This was the maiden voyage of this new festival in Ouro Preto in what was once a grand old casino. They had a great and enthusiastic crowd. We got to hear several other Brazilian acts which is always a pleasure.

Onto Sao Paulo to Bourbon Street and another wonderful crowd. Our hosts at Bourbon Street always takes very good care of us. Freddie Cole and his band were in the audience too, and he sat in with us – a true legend!

Back to the US with a quick stop in Kansas City at the Blue Room. It was great to see a packed house with so many friends. The Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, and her husband Gary were in the audience. It’s always a great honor to see her at my gigs.

Next was another quick trip overseas to a festival in Holland – The Hoorn Jazz Festival at a beautiful (and COLD) place! Our hosts took very good care of us and it’s so gratifying to see jazz flourishing in places all over the world. This festival had about 6 or more acts and the crowd could not get enough.

I had a little time off between travels abroad and heard some good music while at home in NYC (see below)

Back to Europe again. First was the Blue Note in Milan; then to Ferrara, a sweet performance space that was once an old fort. What an amazing crowd we had there.

Next was in Bratislava, Slovakia for the Jazz Days Festival, another example of jazz thriving. It is a huge festival, packed with very hungry jazz fans and they were wonderful to us. Then, to Vienna to one of the oldest jazz clubs there. It was my second time there and it’s always a pleasure.

We took the overnight train which was an interesting and mostly good experience. We regretted not being able to SEE the Alps since it was at night. Then to Zurich – what a beautiful city that is! The small and upscale club there is a huge success. It’s like playing in someone’s lovely living room packed with listeners. Last stop was Istanbul at JC’s Jazz Club. Istanbul is an extremely bustling city and also full of jazz fans. The club is situated right on the Bosphorous, looking across to the Asian side of Istanbul. We saw many friends we had met on the trip before. It was nice to be back.

Back in NYC for election day. We had some friends over to celebrate. Then to Schenectady, NY at a very cool venue, “A Place for Jazz.” with a great crowd. I also did a masterclass earlier that day with some singers which was great fun.

Then we headed West to Salt Lake City where we joined one of our favorite jazz promoters, Hank O’Neal. The series he has is very ambitious and it seems all of the concerts are sold out. He really knows how to present concerts and host the musicians. We love him for it!

Back to NYC at the Iridium for a week. I had never played this club before and really enjoyed it. They made us feel very much at home. Then we played another very cool series at St. Cecelia’s (the Saint of music in Grand Rapids, MI. It had been almost 7 years since I had been there. It’s all run by women and they were fabulous to us.

For Thanksgiving, we went to Poland! (where else?) to a great festival in Kalisz. Our friends/hosts, Pawel and Yavuz, were great to us as was the crowd. And it was another example of hundreds of hungry jazz fans. Poland rocks!

One last performance of 2008 – hard to believe! Scullers was packed and we were thrilled to announce the Grammy Nomination for “Imagina”. I plan on attending the Grammy’s in LA in February. That’s always an amazing experience.

I heard some great music along the way over these past few months: I attended the “Jazz for Obama” at the 92nd St Y with my good friend Ann Hampton Callaway. Among them we heard Kurt Elling, Jeff Watts, Brad Meldau, Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hank Jones.

Some of my listening along the way included: My friend and colleague, Chris Caswell, had a premier of a violin concerto at Carnegie Hall; Virginia Mahew’s group at Dizzy’s/Lincoln Center; the other acts in Ouro Preto; the Carlisle to hear my friend Ed Howard with Steve Tyrell; Dizzy’s to hear Bucky Pizzarelli with Ken Peplowski; some wonderful chamber/classical music at a house concert on the upper west side.

And I’m reading a good book – Wendell Berry’s “Jayber Crow.”

Thanks for checking in! Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing you ‘out there’ in the crowd very soon.