The concert hall is a conversion from a planetarium, with a domed ceiling, to a basically round room, with a stage occupying an arc that’s about 40 feet deep to the back row of the band. This is a most amazing and interesting venue to be in because of what the conversion required. Really interesting levels of floors and stairways, that give an Eschere like feeling, has two recognizable balconies, the upper one being quite close to the dome ceiling. If you’re able to capture the spirit of this structure in some aspect of your performing, it’s a magical wonder!

I realized at sound check that I have played in this room at least one other time. I looked down and just to my right, and it’s the Bear Sisters! They’ve come all the way from Berlin. We start laughing and grinning immediately as I was pointing to them. They’ve been coming to my concerts since they were teenagers. 13 and 15. They have remained true to their tradition of bringing me a little stuffed Berlin bear… always. There must be 20 of these at home, in my office and my music room. Ricarda got the inspiration to sing and perform and she does it a lot. She has felt the joy in her life that comes from music, and sharing it with listeners and other players. What a wonderful thing. Those kinds of moments are so very, very special for me and my audience, especially when they see it happen. It opens the door for mentioning the grandmothers and grandchildren who come see me now.

In a flash, this Dusseldorf audience senses the truth about which I speak all the time, that Germany has been very important to me, for a long time, since the beginning.

We soared high to the planetarium ceiling last night, and did three encore songs, and we were finally allowed to stop! I always feel like I never thank the band enough. There isn’t enough thanks. They play this jazz genre like they’re Americans from New Orleans, Chicago, or Harlem, with contemporary sensitivities of our finest players in America.

I forgot the Moniques were going to be there, and when they showed up, I almost lost it. The music brought the three of us together at different periods in my life and career, and they found each other, and they’ve become like friends who are more like sisters. Whenever I’m in the neighborhood, they come together. We laughed and grinned and reviewed old stories like it was Christmas eve. Oh, man, I love that! And so we closed out performance number five, hardly believing that we’ve finished five performing days! Well, we have, and even though I’m still not confident about the material, I feel pretty good! Thank you, Dusseldorf, and the planetarium (yes, we touched the stars).


-Al Jarreau

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