Back on that Road

Posted on September 14th, 2009 | 0

On the road again. 40hour drive to Banff, Alberta, Canada…the type of drive that makes you reconsider your fear of flying. We travel this time in a Lincoln Navigator. I look forward to this ride because I know I will get some sleep. These last weeks have been rough.

We have driven so many miles up and down the U.S. in the last 25 years; the front seat of a car sleeps better than a single bed. Frank Stewart and Andre Bragg are driving and will be on the road crew, and Frank will also take all kinds of great pictures.

We have had more problems with vehicles over the years. One winter we had a Winnebago with no heat on a tour through the Midwest in the middle of a deep freeze. You had to sit right under the front vents to get any heat. "Man, is it supposed to be this cold in here?" I asked looking at my breath. Frank accused me of whining and volunteered to switch places. “Three blankets and still no satisfaction.” Later he observed, "Damn it’s cold in this m.f.!" We couldn't switch the vehicle until reaching the west coast so we eased the situation by using this inconvenience to considered real hardship that folks have endured. We ended up speculating on how Napoleon's soldiers must have felt in Russia which led to talk about why vodka doesn't freeze. Sometimes I read books or poems out loud to them. They wouldn't admit it but they always say, "Read another one man… read another one." We also pass hours by telling the stories of each others lives from first memories to the present. It's called 'the life of', but Frank's life is so interesting, we never get past him.

You may have noticed we had fewer post in the last weeks. That's because J. Kelly and I have been up day and night with notes, notes, notes…thousands of them. Wayne Shorter once told me, "Notes are like people. You have to go up and meet each one." Well I must be running for something because I've met a lot of those people in the last three weeks. These were hard but extremely intense days of 15, 16 hours of concentration. It’s funny because that type of absorption is difficult to get to and harder to let go. Once rehearsals began for tour, no more day and night vacation withmusic. And I'm still late and not working on orchestration yet, so this is gonna be three or four completely sleepless weeks. I love this, and when waking up at 5am after 2 or 3 hours of sleep, mutter to myself, "Let's see m.f. Let's see." J. Kelly joked with me after one week of intense work. "No posts huh?" He sent me this list of number of notes for each movement in the piano sketch:

I: 4804
II: 5505
III: 8481
IV: 3611
V: 1757
VI: 7366
VII: 9078.

Whenever I compose long pieces and see page after page of hard-earned music, I think about Sandy Feldstein-drummer, composer, arranger, music publisher and educator par excellence, man of sartorial splendor and down home humor. He would always say, "Are you suffering with diarrhea of the pen? Man, turn the music upside down when you’re halfway through and that's your whole piece with half the work." Good drummers hate to see a lot of notes anyway. You have to let them do their thing for the music to be free. Duke didn't write drum parts (I think). Sandy used to laugh when looking at a pile of notes and say, "Yes, there are a LOT of notes, but are they GOOD notes?" I loved him. We lost a great friend of music and American education whenhe passed away. I'm gonna check on Wendy today.

Before satellite radio we used to search all over for games and have the radio cut out at the crucial moment. Well, I slept from 9pm (when we left) to 5 in the morning (now) and missed that Packers-Bears game last night. We tease whoever sleeps about their snoring but Frank wins the prize. Now it’s just past 6 and the sky is that deep Matisse blue. We are chewing up open, American highway, and the trees are shadows that dot the misty landscape. The pre-sunrise lights of people's homes make us nostalgic for the school time mornings of our own childhoods, and the big trucks roll on and on and on…and so do we.

Wynton