In a husky voice, just after his last set, in the fall of 19??, Dizzie sings to a pretty customer from the bar just leaving the club, “La-dee-da… Sco-po-jee-bee-ya… ‘Tis autumn.” So when I joined Stanley Clarke on stage during his set to sing Autumn Leaves in tribute to George Duke (George and Stanley and I have even done that song just the three of us in Moscow), I couldn’t help saying this little fall greeting to the audience. The guys in the band have heard me sing that song a lot.

WELL, it is autumn again. Kids are back in school and yesterday I saw an enormous pumpkin at my local market that primary school kids can do a ‘Guess-Its-Weight’ Contest. The pumpkin was 4.5 feet tall, and 4 feet wide, with a stem as big as an NFL football. I can’t believe it… In a minute it will be Thanksgiving, and that means Christmas is just a short winter’s nap and an eye wink away. For most of you reading this, it works the same for you, this time-warp works the same way.

I am so loving this harvest season with big, fat full moons and produce sections with fall colors. Stanley and I try to bring some flavor of that in our evening with this “homecoming” audience in Fresno– “Homecoming” because I’m almost a native Californian, and other Californians know that even when I’m way ‘over there’ somewhere, I’m gonna return bearing gifts and singing to my friends and neighbors again.

Now having said that, I have not been to Fresno in a many years. And I’ve never been to Vacaville, or Downey, CA, either. But I will before the month is over. Rejoice, rejoice! New friends, new audience. What a concept!!

Darren and Errol are some energetic young promoters who are determined to continue the well-known wonderful tradition of bringing jazzish sounds to long-time listeners and new ones alike. What a concept! (As my wife would say, “Duh!”) We’ll continue our new friendship when we go to Oakland on October 25th, a date that we’ll share with Stanley again, as well as Joe Sample, Norman Brown, and others.

What a night in Fresno. Lots of new faces. But lots of old friends, too. And that’s the kind of set we played, with music that would be real new for newcomers, and comfortable listens for people who go back to the We’re In This Love Together and Boogie Down days. And the new kids will say, “Oh! That’s an Al Jarreau song?” The new listens for everybody are “Double Face,” Chris Walker on “Heal A Broken Heart,” “Random Act of Love,” “Puddit” in a doo-wop quartet, and “Heart’s Horizon.” Wow, I’m proud of this program.

The show went off with enthusiasm flowing downhill and onto the stage from the audience that sat in a beautiful carved out amphitheatre. As the show was nearing the end, a woman came down front and wanted a picture. I had to lie flat on the stage to get my head low enough to be in the frame! Never before in my life has that happened. It was new and special for me and for the audience. (Don’t try this at home, it’s hard to get up!)

It was a great drive up and drive back visiting Fresno. Thanks Darren and Errol, thanks Sheree the M.C., thanks everybody!



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