Dubai – 12/7/12

Pronounced “Doo By.” Some of you may be old enough to remember some fantastic, wonderful songs from Broadway musicals. There’s a song whose important chorus line is “far away places with the strange sounding names are calling, calling me.” It’s a haunting little piece of music that I sang in high school a cappella choir. Little did I know that I might have been the composer. I sure am the subject of that song, “The Dreamer.” It took 16 hours to get there, and it’s a jewel in the crown of the Arab Emirates, that include… it sits at the bottom curve of the Persian Gulf, and for centuries it has historically been an important hub along the trade routes. However Dubai itself is a new city, less than 40 years old. You may have seen TV journal reports on this fantastically wealthy, ultra modern, community.

And everything is spanking brand new and high-tech, with some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. It’s as though they’re racing with the world to have the biggest and newest and grandest everything. Somebody described it as Disneyland gone wild. Europeans love the warmth of the sunny beaches and the party atmosphere that seems to never stop. But there’s a conservative quality about it that’s very unlike Vegas and most high-end resort towns.. We’re an hour’s plane ride from Iraq and Iran, but the tolerance for Western practices and ideas is strikingly different. I mentioned to a journalist how important it was that Westerners like me get invited, and we have these great, little cultural exchange programs where we all discover how much we are alike This is my first time in Dubai, but last year we went to Abu Dhabi, which is about a 35-minute drive away. Talk about a strange sounding name. Ah-Boo-Dah-Bee. We made some new friends, and we did again this time. We played outside starting at 9pm and “wow,” it’s a very comfortable 73 degrees. They tell me that in the summer it’s really hot. We played on the beach about 50 yards from the water, on an improvised scaffolding stage, with folding chairs for the audience. I love these kinds of loose, comfortable relaxed atmospheres.

Well, the fans came last night, and came running down front to dance and party towards the end of the program and the encores. They squealed with surprise and delight when their local promoter, Morozov, walked out on stage and literally tore it up with improvised playing and solos in Agua/Mas. These are called magic moments you guys. Who knew??? There was a big, big lady in the front row with a black dress who literally jumped up and down in place with excitement. And there was a guy who screamed for, “Roof Garden,” so long and loud all evening that we had no choice. One of the most wonderful responses to, “Jacaranda Bougainvillea,” all about Mandela’s new South Africa. After the concert, I hugged both of our promoters really hard, and mentioned to them and their guests how wonderful it is to be making new friends. I can tell that they are quietly bursting with joy and happiness about this evening. And the people! What a wave of support for the new kids in town… rushing up on stage to get autographs and photos before I could even get off of the stage. We’re already talking about doing this again, and some other neighboring countries.

Wonderful news. The new record that I did with the Metropole Orchestra from Holland, and Vince Mendoza (conductor and arranger) is nominated for a Grammy!

Ok that’ s it for now you guys. I’ll talk to you from Minsk, Moscow, and Rome. And then home for Christmas.

Love, Al

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