Last night in Pescara, Italy on the Adriatic Sea. There was another real jazz musician sighting. We were treated to an opening performance by the great Cyrus Chestnut. His sound is warm and wise and his approach is Soul. He even played several songs on our set. It was like the first day of a family reunion.
The prodigy Francesco Cafiso played a small band set with us. We first heard him here at 13 yrs old. He still astonished with his reflexes and musicality but even more, the quality of his person—-still humble, full of joy and humor. Yeah.
My Italian brother Demo and his wife Lucia came down from Rome and we hung for a minute. We have known each other for 20 something years. He showed me a Cat Anderson mouthpiece (the smallest i've ever seen). The cats are playing through the roughest part of two months of touring. The bus was a couple of hours late picking them up from the airport ruining Sugar Rob's soundcheck (he has to set lights and sound). Every minute is important when you're in a place for 10 hours. Now, I'm on a 9 hr. drive and the cats have a 3 hr drive to a plane to a 2hr drive to the hotel in Aosta.
'De Road'. This is when i love someone saying, "it must be fun to travel." HaHa.
We are not traveling. Added to it: there is virtually no social component to our road lives outside of each other. No parties, receptions, very few jam sessions or hangs. You better want to be out here… or HAVE to be. Still…we swang once again off the Adriatic.
Highway of the Flowers from Nice to Genova (from the break of day) may be the most beautiful stretch of road in the world. It is an engineering marvel of tunnels, bridges and grainy asphalt slithering alongside the shimmering Mediterranean.
We go straight up through the Pre-Alpine range in northern Italy. The sights are unsurpassed.
Pastel towns and villages in various stages of undress emerge at all angles on every turn.
Spires, a diversity of wild foliage interrupted by pristine farmlands, and ancient and modern structures side by side, testify to the fleeting permanence of life.
This road drives well too. Viva L'Italia.
We stop in Pont De Molina Spain on the way to Barcelona. It's 11:30 and we're starving. Irene tells us to stop at Amiel & Molina, a local restaurant she's spotted from the road. Fernando doesnt want to. They aren't open.
Irene goes in…20 min. later they are rolling out an Epicurean feast for us. Tortilla de Patatas, Iberian Ham, Manchego Cheese, Gazpacho w Rum, Fried Pescadillas, Pa Amb Tomaquet, Have Mercy! it went on and on. We said,"we'd hate to see when you're open." Fernando tells Irene, "I was wrong." She says, "Let's record that."
Chef Gabriel Marin even brought out some Louisiana Tobasco (always a sign of civilization) with a portion of the Cocido that he had prepared for himself. I went to the kitchen and played some New Orleans blues for them. Brother Carlos, the sui chef, started clapping a syncopated groove. Everybody started vibing. Upon finishing, Carlos said, "flamenco."
As we walked out the door they told me, "remember us when you get famous."
Leaving Nice at 9 am.
Fernando, Irene and I stop by the airport to pick up Boss Murphy's late arriving bag as the band flies to the next destination. We play the jazz night of the festival with Ahmad Jamal and Roy Hargrove. It's good to see some actual jazz musicians at a jazz festival.
Some loud non- jazz blaring from the main stage has created the campy atmosphere of a bad casino throughout the city all day and is now bleeding into every song we play. We have to laugh. It's like a 'collateralized debt obligation'. What could possibly be better to sell than nothing, with the name collateral to describe it.
Jazz beat our financial systems to this level of fraudulence with the first generation of 'selling out as artistic statement' some 40 yrs ago. Now it's a way of life. The equation: many of our bankers and traders resell unscrupulous loans using THE LOAN ITSELF as collateral, wreck the world economy and keep their jobs and our money (actually are given more)= Non-Jazz stands in for actual jazz, is easier to sell because it's not, headlines jazz festivals and destroys not just the festival ambience and intimacy, but even the late-night jam sessions with a lot of loud, sad, non-playing assed bullshit.
This non-jazz is celebrated for being 'open' and 'of it's time' and sells more and is more pervasive than the actual music whose name it carries. HaHa. This is 'of it's time', because corruption is of all times. My great grandma Mama Rosie used to say, "A lie will go around the world twice 'fore the truth ever gets started."
She wasn't lying.
On our way out of town, we see some of the cats sharing a meal and drink at an open street corner cafe w the soulful Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (also in our hotel).
Our waiter starts talking 'bout we better pay now, and pisses Fernando off. As we discuss Japanese musicians we both know and love, Fernando becomes temperful, drags the man away, and slaps some money down with an earful of vitriol. We cool off and recognize that he's been working as well as sampling beverages all day.
A few diplomatic words from Irene (fernando's much better half), and ten minutes later it's Japan meets Jazz meets Ska in Spain w some free Sangria and good Iberian ham sandwiches. As we leave, our inebriated brother asks me, "what do you sing?"