I think we are nearing the home stretch, as they say: less than a week to go in our European excursion. Since my last entry, we have been in Hamburg, Germany, then San Sebastian, Spain, and on to Prague, Czech Republic. This is quite typical of the Saudades Tourneen endeavors; the routing runs you through more European cities than a James Bond flick. As I write this entry, I'm in a taxi outside of Frankfurt, Germany, and we will be catching a flight to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Only one flight today, it's averaged two most days.
Hamburg was pleasant; we stayed in the Hotel Grand Elysee, which was quite fancy, as my photos below will demonstrate. My room was nicely sized, overlooking a lovely park. The hotel was like an art gallery; there were beautiful paintings and sculptures everywhere. But since it wasn't really an art gallery, no one seemed to care if I took pictures.
I'm trying to get back in shape, so I went for a run (as in exercise) both days we were in Hamburg. There was a lovely lake near the hotel, andd it provided a scenic diversion for my self-loathing in motion (another way to say jogging….). I didn't even know Hamburg had such scenic parts. (In the past, they always put us in a nondescript suburban hotel.)
The gigs were cool. We played for the NDR, which is the state funded radio and TV. Our open act was the great British pianist John Taylor, with Palle Danielsson on bass and Martin France on drums. Not too shabby for an opening act. (You might know John Taylor from some Kenny Wheeler recordings or from the Peter Erskine Trio, which Danielsson was also a part of.)
We played two nights: the first night, we welcomed back alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who was replaced by tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane the previous week. Mahanthappa came out with his musical guns blazing, as if he had been with us the whole time; he obviously hand't lost any edge. The second night, our trusted bass player Jerome Harris had to take a temporary leave from the tour and fly back to the U.S., due to the fact that his daughter was graduating from Yale. So I was left to play some left hand bass lines, which I had done before in this band (during a week long stint last year in Bern, Switzerland). However, there is one tune on this tour which I play on trumpet. So, in a bold effort, I attempted for the first time ever to play bass lines and solo on the pocket trumpet. I think I got an "A" for effort, but after the novelty subsided, I decided that I might need to practice that sort of thing more at home! (It's difficult because trumpet is a Bb instrument, and piano is in C, so essentially, I have to think in two keys at once. Couple that with the fact that the pocket trumpet is already a little awkward with TWO hands, let alone one. So it was a physical struggle, and a mental struggle. But not impossible. Maybe next time I'll be able to do that better.)
The next trip was to sunny San Sebastian. This Spanish town is located in the Basque region of Spain. Basque is one of the most unique languages in the world; many experts have tried, not so successfully, to trace it's exact origin. It's completely unrelated to Spanish, for sure. But everyone there speaks Spanish of course, so I tried to practice en Espanol un poco.
The concert was in a beautiful theater near the beach. Unfortunately, the concert was not so well attended, due to an important futbol match which was occurring at the same time. (Europeans love their futbol.) However, those in attendance were enthusiastic. (This was probably the only show thus far that wasn't sold out.) I felt better about my bass lines this performance. On my trumpet solo, I opted to let guitarist Dave Fiuczynski comp for me as opposed to playing my own bass lines.
On to Prague! Such a beautiful city! I think Prague is becoming a big destination for Europeans because it is much cheaper than Paris, and has less of the Paris "attitude" as well! I didn't truly get to be a tourist, but I did take a few pictures in and around Wenceslas Square, which was near the hotel and the Lucerna Bar, the jazz club in which we would play. We had a great crowd; eastern Europeans oftentimes seem hungrier to hear great music than in other parts of Europe. The audience was very enthusiastic. One woman came up after the show, and she wanted me to ask DeJohnette for autographed drumsticks, for a gift for her boyfriend. I said I wasn't sure if it was possible, but DeJohnette was cool about it. So then the woman and her boyfriend bought me drinks( which included something called Slivovitz, which is made from plums) for a few hours after the show! I hung out with them and a American guitarist named Steve Walsh; he was in Prague producing a recording. Overall, I felt a warm, soulfulness from the local Czecks; I imagined that Prague might become one of my favorite spots to visit.
Stay tuned! We have one more week and hopefully I'll be able to get more interviews. I got Jack to do an interview today on our way to Amsterdam. I feel like so much is said between musicians on the road, so many deep intriguing conversations, that never get documented. Musicians try to solve the problems of the world , just to pass the time while in transit. Not to mention all the jokes and stories, movie quotes. (We got into a thing with the classic comedy "Hollywood Shuffle" last night in the dressing room. Jack seemed to have the entire movie memorized!)
And as promised, more pictures below:
|My room in Hamburg|
|Hamburg Art 1|
|Hamburg Art 2|
|Hamburg Art 3|
|Hamburg Art 4|
|Hamburg Art 5|
|Hamburg Art 6|
|Ewwww! Gross........Oh , wait.....|
|It's Like A Jungle Sometimes|
|Hamburg Art 7|
|Hamburg Art 8|
|Hamburg Art 9|
|Nice park in front of hotel|
|You can see in the distance a model posing for a photoshoot|
|This reminded me of the movie "Fantasia" for some reason|
|near the lake|
|"Take Me To Your Liederhosen!"|
|I liked this building|
|Hotel in San Sebastian|
|Ceiling of hotel San Sebastian|
|San Sebastian 1|
|San Sebastian 2|
|San Sebastian 3|
|in front of the theater|
|theater in San Sebastian|
|Jack's drums du jour|
|Why is there an Irish Bar in every city?|
|This is right near the club, don't know what it means.......|