Down Home: Manfredonia

Posted on July 22nd, 2011 | 0

Fernando and Irene had driven 11 straight hours without even stopping to eat. We were headed to Manfredonia before going on to Ravello. High noon. Luigi's mama cooked so much good food with such feeling and soul, I'm not going to dishonor the memory of it by trying to describe it— just going to quote the great Herlin Riley, "It tasted like some more." Demo and Lucia came down and we talked about everything from the universal cultural ignorance of politicians to warm up routines on the trumpet. We sang the Brandenburg Concerto no. 2, O Sole Mio, and Salty Dog, played Napoli, the Carnival of Venice, and St. James Infirmary, ruminated on him opening a school of music, laughed about really bad public critiques (reminded me of when I was growing up with brothers one-upping each other on whose parents administered the worst boodie whippin'). Mama Antonietta earned the Ryan Kisor award for fewest words with the most meaning. When asked to speak, she said, "No!" Prompting Fernando to refer back to the loquaciousness of action, "What she's saying is all in front of us brother." Amen. The volume, quality and diversity of food was astounding, surpassed only by the depth of feeling in each dish. She's still talking to us. Demo gave me a Cat Anderson mouthpiece in a frame he made by hand. On the back is a picture of the great Italian trumpeter Oscar Valdambrini playing with Duke's band in Italy in 1967. It was inscribed: "This object returns home. It was given to Oscar Valdambrini by Cat Anderson 45 years ago. On Oscar's last TV show, he gave it to Demo who was performing for his first time on TV. God bless you and your family, love Demo and Lucia." We enjoyed a great afternoon of each other's company talking 'bout aspirations and failures, and about what we could do to further the feeling of humanity in that picture of Oscar with Duke and them. We talked about how much we loved Maurice Andre and I told Demo that, at 13, I had never heard of a piccolo trumpet and was struggling to play along with Maurice's recording of the Leopold Mozart Concerto on the Bb trumpet. Some time later, I asked Prof Bill Fielder, "How does he get that sound?" He said, "That's a piccolo trumpet, man." Its something being country. We started talking about Louis Armstrong, and Demo asked me to play Duke's "Potrait of Louis". We both started playing it and Luigi was so moved, he took his horn out and played the 'Joe Avery Second Line' with us in excellent harmony and time. Then we listened to Bix Biederbecke's lyrical solo on Gershwin's Concerto in F w Paul Whiteman, as well as Jelly Roll playing his version of Maple Leaf Rag for Alan Lomax. We drank some good Italian espresso and everywhere there was Luigi's sister, Bernadette, luminously floating overhead with hospitality, grace and angelic sweetness. Wynton