Once again I sit for 15 minutes before I’m on, listening to Sample’s, “Children Of The Sun,” and just awestruck at the various recognizable early elements of Honky Tonk, all the way to real challenging sophisticated compositions found in Ellington, Basie, Gil Evans, and even Schoenberg. You go Joe. And how brilliant to invite Nils Lundgren in with his special understanding of Big Band orchestration. This is one of those great, Norwegian wood, Scandinavian constructed Concert Halls. With pin prick acoustic holes to perfectly absorb lots of the sound that might be bouncing around off those hard surfaces. The band sounds fabulous. I almost never get to the edge of the stage 15+ minutes before I go on. These days I do. And I’m so happy that moment occurred to Brian to be especially early in getting my pack set up at the side of the stage, and then just having some moments to breathe deeply. Normally, I go rushing about. This is different. And very valuable for me in coming to remarks that I should be making. Joe is yelling, “Al.” I hesitate and say, “What?” from backstage. Joe says, “You better get out here and sing. These people want to hear you sing.” So POW here I go, and just across the stage is Jörg Keller, and on his immediate side stands tall and stately Nils Lundgren. Ramrod spine. No extraneous anything. Lifts that mouthpiece on that red trombone and talks to Kai Winding and JJ Johnson. I reach center stage, and there they are… I’m not always looking for those special faces with those special eyes, smiling and open-hearted, but here, especially these last 2 or 3 concerts I’ve been very touched by those immediately welcoming, twinkling eyes. And here again sits an elderly gentleman on his own. All naturally dressed, grey-hair, and unselfconsciously, openly friendly. Brian spotted a few seats to his left, a woman with grey hair and glasses and sang along with everything.

There are VIP boxes, and then there are really special VIP boxes. Someone took the time and thought, along either side, instead of doing enclosed boxes with windows, they designed boxes that were projections into the room, which contained 12-14 seats. Little extras like this make for little extra flashes all night long. So we’re off to a fine start and I’m loving these connections between Joe’s program the, “Children of the Sun,” and the Gershwin’s, “Porgy and Bess” opera, which is surely about The Children of the Children of the Sun. And now, me and George, Children of the Children of the Sun, getting to play this music for continental audiences like Ambassadors, and bring them closer to the Children of the Children of the Sun. We’re closer than you’d expect. So I close the front part of the show with Joe and the NDR doing a progressive rhythmic Bossa, samba rhythmic feel that I still find fresh and brand new. And he has me writing in new ideas, even these days. It’s especially poignant that Joe Sample played on that 1994 rendition with me and Marcus and a bunch of guys whose names you’d recognize if we’d started listening, including David Sanborn and Steve Gadd. We all take an intermission, and come back excited about a second half. What is Al Jarreau going to do now? Well, the first thing you do is warm the audience up with a wonderful, classic Eddie Harris piece of music from the early 70’s. I remember hearing it on one of my first listens while I was driving along on Moorepark Street with Susan to the Laundromat. Oh we did that a lot. And I said, “Oooohhh Susan. Listen to that.” Well it took me another 35 years to write a lyric. But I did and we did it here in Gothenburg again. Please go listen to the original. It’s a real treat. And then have a listen to how a singer might treat those melodies and suggestions. The title is, “Cold Duck Time.” I don’t know how much time Eddie Harris spent thinking about a lyric, but as a singer, doing a lyric for a song that is already titled, you find yourself in a serious exercise of writing for assignment. I won’t bore you with more here. If you’re interested check out my lyric.

As unknown as many of the songs are from Porgy and Bess, and I can click off 4 or 5 more beginning with, “My Man Is Gone, etc.” Still as a classic opera production, there are more, better-known songs from this opera than 80% of others. The NDR orchestra, with Steve Gray’s arrangements, have increased the poignancy and depth of feeling as they come about in this new setting. Tonight, on 2 occasions I heard a single voice, deep in the audience breathe a moan, which otherwise would have been called a silent scream. If I were smart, oops now it occurs to me, I should have asked that person to do that over again and again so I could play it in the morning. Moving on and moving off.

Along the way here, I’ll get to specific selections at P and B that deserve more comment. But let me see, I keep being surprised by this old churchy ballad called, “Oh Lord I’m On My Way,” in 6/8 time… real churchy and slow. And lyrically, it’s about Porgy who’s going to New York in his push-cart. And that’s a “long, long way.” And as he’s talking to the Lord he says, “I’ll ride that long, long road. If you are there to guide my hand.” Unsaid, but strongly suggested, is his prayer that he finds Bess there. At the same time, the listener is overwhelmed with the sense that this is mostly a song about the struggle of people less fortunate, trying to make ends meet. They are the poor, Les Miserables, almost La Bohem. Po’ folks. The audience gets it and they’re on their feet. It’s obvious that we can’t go home, so we launch into a whole other program. Dave Brubeck, and Paul Desmond, and Take 5 are calling. We three have a long history together. I continue to be astounded at the response to this smokin’ little piece of music that I tailed in on in the 1970’s. And then seamlessly we go Brazil. With 2 other counter-rhythmic, Sambossa feels. Oh you’ll have twinkle toes in a new time. And as it fits with the evening, the only word is fun, fun, fun, fun. We should exit. But we have decided that all of that is too much walking. And a useless delay. And now we say goodnight with some unplanned little, tiny blues spoken in a whisper. Me and Joe and Nils. Talking about C.C. Rider. Historians will tell you that in the early times of the growth and development of all communities, that there were very important people who came to town infrequently but provided great services to the community. Preachers, teachers, lawyers, milkmen, scissor sharpeners. The path that they followed was called a circuit. And so from time to time, these very attractive traveling worldly people would be in town and entice all the innocence to their wagon. Soon, circuit rider took the C and the C and just called it C.C. Rider, and out of this simplification was born C.C. Rider. And we sing it well. With Nils, and a singer, and a piano player. Thanks Gothenburg!

Love, Al

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