Summer Roundup, Part 1

August 26th, 2009

OK, this week is for catching up with the second half of this summer’s activity, and getting ready for the fall. I’ll pick up where I left off after my last post of July 18th…

The 92nd St Y concert with Bill Charlap & company was, as always, a lot of fun. And a bit of a challenge, too, to put together a evening’s worth of music in shifting combinations in one rehearsal and a run through the afternoon of the concert. But with such a distinguished company such as this, you know things are going to turn out great!

l to r: BL, Kenny Washington (drums); Jon Gordon (alto & soprano saxes); Peter Washington (bass); Renee Rosnes (piano); Jimmy Greene (tenor sax); Bill Charlap musical director); Kurt Elling (vocal). Photo courtesy of Richard Termine

The next day I was on the plane to Europe for the summer tour of the Eddie Palmieri Afro-Caribbean Jazz All Stars. I’ve been making these jaunts with Eddie for many years now, ever since the days of “Palmas” in the mid-90s. It’s still a total gas to hit the international bandstand with the Chief! On this tour was the regular core of Jose Clausell “Capitan” on timbales (Jose has been with Eddie almost as long as I, in his 21st year!), Little Johnny Rivero on conga, Luques Curtis (also a regular member of my Spheres Of Influence group) on bass; and on this tour, Yosvany Terry on alto sax and chekere. It’s always a pleasure to play and hang out with the redoubtable Mr. Terry; a heavy musician and one of nature’s noblemen!

At JFK: l to r Jose Claussel, Luques Curtis, Yosvany Terry

The tour covered a lot of the usual spots; the Jazz Café in London, New Morning in Paris, Zapata in Stuttgart (where we enjoyed an incredible sancocho prepared by the proprietor Xavier’s German wife). But a definite departure for us, and a high point, was to travel to Lebanon to perform in the incredible Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek for the International Festival there. This is part of the largest Roman temple complex in the world; an awe-inspiring setting to play music!

The Temple Of Jupiter in Baalbek

Eddie on stage in Baalbek

Lebanon is an incredible place, with a most diverse mix of peoples and cultures (imagine 10,000 jazz & Latin music fans partying in the same town long known as a stronghold of Lebanese Hezbollah!), a little adventuresome to be there but I’d go again!

We finished off the tour in Seté, France, where we had a great hang with Alexander Abreu, Cuban trumpeter and vocalist extraordinaire, and his group Habana de Primera. They’re a happening band; check them out!

Alexander Abreu and BL

This takes me up to the beginning of August; the next post will get me up to date (hopefully) and detail the jazz camp bashes this month.

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