Last time I wrote Rod Fleeman and I were headed for Europe. Our first performances were at the Blue Note in Milan, Italy. I had been there before and enjoyed this trip even more. I find Italian audiences to be extremely warm and enthusiastic. Throughout Europe, I tried to greet each audience with a SHORT greeting in THEIR language. They seemed to appreciate that, even when I fumbled. Since languages have always interested me, this is not a chore; it’s a fun challenge.
In Milan (and London and Turkey) we played with the London players: Alec Dankworth on bass and Tristan Maillot on drums. We had played with them ‘way back when’ while at Pizza on the Park in London, so it was great to see them again.
After Milan, we played Ronnie Scotts in London. It was my first time there. Aside from our sets, it was fun listening to the house band there and the big band. There was a lot of music happening on those nights! We met some wonderful ‘local’ players and hung out with them along with some great singers as well. It’s amazing how this music can bring folks together all over the world. Speaking of which, we then went for a 1-nighter in Vienna at Birdland. What a great place! Rod and I met the wonderful young bassist that same day, who played with us that night. He was also the leader in the house band after our sets, so we got to hear them.
We were out early the very next day and on to Poland. It was my very first time there. Our first stop was in Warsaw. We met our promoter, Yavuz (wonderful man), who really treated us with such gracious hospitality. Played two nights in Warsaw and met some wonderful local folks along the way. One new friend even gave me a spa treatment on a very rare day off – how lovely! We played with two local players there. They were great guys. We also did a workshop at the Chopin Academy of the Arts. What a thrill to be in this historic place! Then, we even had tea with the American Ambassador of Poland. He also came to our performance which was a lovely experience. The next day we all took the train to Poznan, just outside Krakow. Very sweet town and if I say the people were great too often, that’s because it’s the truth!
Taking the train back to Warsaw the very next day, a cab from the train station to the airport, a plane through Istanbul to Ankara (capital of Turkey), THAT was a LONG DAY! At least we had the ‘night off,’ getting in around 11:00 pm! In Ankara we played a beautiful theatre. I was told the Turkish Ambassador was there. Something I find interesting is how it seems that government officials in other countries really enjoy jazz and make an effort to get to the concerts. What an unusual thing that is! In Brazil and Japan this is certainly true as well.
The next day we were off to the amazing city of Istanbul. What a place – unlike anywhere I’ve seen! We stayed on the Bosphorous and could see Asia from the hotel room. (What I didn’t know was that Istanbul is part of both Europe and Asia.) The beautiful club we played is really THE place to be there. They packed the place and so many people knew our music. That was really true everywhere. It’s a real a thrill to go so far away and get requests for songs we’ve recorded over the last 15 years. The three gentlemen who own it are great entrepreneurs with real style and a great love for jazz. We met a wonderful young pianist (Uraz) who sat in with us. He was Yavuz’s son. They also took us to a bizarre in Istanbul. That was quite an experience to bargain with the shop owners. We saw several beautiful mosques. I truly can’t wait to return to all these places. They were all so very kind to us.
Back in the US, our gig in Jacksonville, FL was great in spite of the gale force winds that blew everything and everyone all over the place! What a great festival though! After Jacksonville we headed south to Miami to the Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club. It’s a very cool place in a very old, grand hotel. Great crowd there too. We loved playing with the Omaha Symphony again at the Holland Center. This was a celebration for Cancer Survivors. Bill McGlaughlin conducted and my ‘KC band’ played beautifully.
Then, we went to Minneapolis’ Dakota Bar & Grill, a favorite place. We had a great band there with Steve Wilson, Laura Caviani, Larry Kohut and Phil Hey. And it’s always good to see family and friends there.
Then to another favorite spot: Birdland in NYC. We had another amazing band there: Steve Nelson, Rod Fleeman, Todd Strait and Doug Weiss. It was a wonderful week in that great club.
We played a very sweet festival in Edmond’s WA, where they are focused on music in the schools (yeh!) and also a fund raiser for kids who are burn victims. The kids and community orchestra bands played concerts all week long. It was a very good vibe for all and great to be a part of.
We record at the end of June. We’ve been working hard on that. Hope it will be released at the beginning of ’08.
Hope to see you out and about soon and THANK YOU for listening.