Den Bosch, Holland with Metropole Orchestra

Al rehearses and sound checks with Metropole

Well here we are, up early and headed for the Schipol Airport of Amsterdam. And believe me, oh, what a beautiful morning it is… Sunny, and the air is cool and fresh and yes, it’s Springtime. Again! Wow! I just put the Christmas dec’s away. Once again I’m astonished by the speed of light passage of time. … Our whole team has been concentrating on and pointing at the Metropole Orchestra concerts as a really important but very far distant milestone marker of this time period. Zoom, it’s come and gone in a flash. The obvious conclusion, in a sense, is that our gang is busy, busy, busy. And so time goes in a hurry. Every tenth word out of my mouth is “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” I’m convinced that the grateful heart and mind and consciousness is super-rich fertile soil of wonderful potential fruit-bearing and flowering because your mind and consciousness is full of the images of the good stuff that you are thankful for. Permeate your mental environment with the good and beautiful stuff that you are thankful for.

The Metropole Orchestra was, is, heavenly. They made my music expand and shimmer and glisten in a way that was just awesome and awe-inspiring and jaw dropping. I will be a while absorbing all of that and I will be real busy planning and praying for another chance and opportunity to feel that great “rush” and sing it better so that I’m tapping full potential, with a brand new me. I’d love for American audiences to demand to hear this stuff. Vince Mendoza’s arrangements allow that and ask for that to happen. I’m just scratching the surface. This combo can leap and soar…. Thank you! I called home a lot to hear Susan say, “Alwin, Alwin, he’s our man… if he can’t do it, nobody can!” She’s been doing that a long time, since the Early 70’s. It works. Something gets triggered and goes busy… I love that. I look for that more and more.

Joe Gordon and Joe Turano and Patrick come with me. Every boxer has a good manager and trainer and really excellent cut man. Me too. In the Frankfurt Airport a guy walks by me going away and I get an eleven o’clock angle profile. Frist I’m saying, “No Way!” Then I’m saying, “Way?!?” I have to go and SEE- OH yes, it’s World Heavyweight Champ Evander Holyfield. I risk being over-familiar and address him as “Real Deal,” a nickname that came from his Olympic Games days. He recognized me and shook my hand with a smile. I wanted to ask if he could recommend a good cut man.

We spent a day in Bussum and nearby Den Bosch where we did 2 performances. The Metropole Orkest is one of a kind maybe in history. A big band orchestra. You have to imagine the Count Basie Band with strings, but not just any strings. The women and guys jam with Sly Stone and James Brown and The Funkadelics. Vince, a multiple Grammy Award winning arranger and conductor, wrote some special stuff for Cold Duck and Spain and Roof Garden and Scootchabooty, and we recorded it. (I wore in-ear monitors for the first time ever. You go, Al! ) The arrangements make the audience swoon in one movement and then explode in the next, always testing and pushing their abilities to appreciate something a little bit new and different. I need to listen without saying a word so that his new canvas has become sort of like wallpaper of second nature, a familiar neighborhood that I can walk or run through or go dancing through. For the listener it should be fun hearing familiar stuff done in a different way. That’s an exciting prospect.

I met with Cor Bakker, well known blessedly talented Dutch Pianist, and we talked about more exciting prospects. Collage… Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

So hello, Springtime 2011. Thank you for coming around again showing us rebirth and rejuvenation restoration. I’m gonna go home and hang out with Susan and our own kitchen… and chill for a little while.

Thanks, Vince Mendoza for the hard work and caring and the new canvas you gave me. Thank you, Metropole Orchestra and Holland. See you and the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Love, Al

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