Mid-Tour Notes Europe

July 12th, 2010

I’m on the way back to Paris from Rotterdam, riding in a van amidst some fairly heavy rain. Going through a city at the moment, think it’s Lille (France)? Last night I was at the North Sea Jazz Festival, playing with Cuban master flautist Orlando “Maraca” Valle’s Monterey Project. We had a good gig, with the only downer being that the Netherlands lost in the final of the World Cup about halfway through our set. This was one of the less ebullient North Sea Festivals I’ve attended, for sure. I still had a great time, not only yesterday but over the days before rehearsing in Paris with Maraca and the band. It’s great to have the opportunity to rehearse the music you’re going to play more than once; a lot of people don’t realize what a relative luxury and rarity that is in our jazz world. It makes a difference.

Man, Maraca sure can play! Not only is he an utter virtuoso on his instrument (I should say instruments, he kills on his eponymous axe the maracas and chekere as well), he plays a lot of serious music on it too. I really enjoy his lines, which exhibit that really well formed quality that shows developed jazz sensibility. And he writes some pretty changes! A wonderful gentleman, he’s a joy to work with and makes me hope I’ll have more opportunities to be on the stand with him soon.

The rest of the all star group was burning too. Old Palmieri bandmate (whose CDs you should definitely check out) Paoli Mejias on congas and my man Robby Ameen on drums formed a e bandspotent rhythm team, and I was struck by the playing of young Harold Lopez-Nussa; very hip and well informed. I would like to make a special mention of the playing of special guest on the gig David Sanchez, who in his solos really demonstrated the art of building, not only as a structural device but as a means of staking out one’s personal musical parameters within a piece and then flying with it. A fantastic musician!

I came out to Europe on the 1st with Eddie (Palmieri), starting out in Manchester, England, continuing on to Brighton, Monsegur France, and Copenhagen. With Eddie, no rehearsal is necessary, since we have been doing it so long that it’s joyously effortless to play together. We had a new guy on board for these gigs on alto, a young man who I and the whole enjoyed very much and will be seen again on our gigs as well as on many other bandstand for sure; Louis Fouche. Louis plays his ass off! Luques Curtis,, Eddie’s (and often my) bassist, recommended him. Luques, btw, is swinging his behind off, prompting accolades from maestro Palmieri.

Before going to Paris I stayed on in Copenhagen a couple of days and played a festival event with some of the fine local players, and enjoyed the very hip ambience of the city. I’ll be back next month to play the newly reopened Cafe Montmartre leading a quartet. I’m looking forward to more time there.

Now back to Paris with four whole days off, waiting for Palmieri and company (now with Yosvany Terry on sax) to come back and start the second half of our tour. I’m looking forward to relaxing, seeing friends, enjoying the city. A rare occasion! I’ll probably spend some time on business since Virgos can never completely relax. Probably will be scheming on how to get more folks to pre order and contribute to my Unsung Heroes recording project on Kickstarter; like maybe you?

Do it at: http://kck.st/9WFa9Q

And of course, I’ll be keeping the tones going.

PS: When I checked into my hotel, who did I find in the lobby but Mulgrew Miller and Russell Malone, who were playing with Ron Carter at the New Morning club. Went over to hear the band, and then I run into by buddy and new project partner Herve Sellin as well as Mr. Phil Woods! Great evening, now to bed…


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