Lucerne, Switzerland

And so we began the actual tour with a Lucerne concert at Lake Lucerne… There is a bigger, much more complicated German definition and description of this picturesque locale. Today, it’s sea and fog. We can see an old and a distant boat or two on the lake.

Come with me now. It’s 7:30 in the evening. The hardwood stage is lit with clear but soft light so that the audience can see a sight rarely seen! It’s 20 big band players with the music stands and various horns for each player. And they are just pounding it out to music on a page… these guys have learned to interpret what an arranger or composer has suggested, and amazingly, prior to that moment nothing has been played or heard. Just a man with his horn and the written page of music that he’s looking at. And his imagination. Right or wrong, do what you feel.

My God. Do what you feel. Stay in touch with the source. And be you. Here’s a small view. This run of dates will be real different than the last time I did an NDR tour. It was just me and the band, with them doing the opening half, and me the second half. With Joe Sample opening the first half of the evening, the overall impact is increased 100-fold, maybe 1000. Joe has a new CD called, “Children Of The Sun.” All original music recorded with the NDR orchestra in fact. On a recent visit to St. Croix in the Caribbean, he woke up and looked out and was deeply touched and impressed, as never before, in the inescapability from this island. No underground railroad came here for these slaves. Joe began writing; newly inspired. The audience is getting it. They’ve rarely seen Joe Sample in this big band setting before. And never, ever heard him doing newly inspired thematic music like this program. You can hear Church and Juke Joint, New Orleans Funeral March, and look out there’s some salsa. Jorg and the big band are brilliant. They get Joe’s vision and bring it to life. Joe has done 40 minutes, takes a deep breath and says, “AALLLLL!!!!” From offstage I say, “WWHHAATTT.” I should say, “Dave’s not here man.” Then Joe says, “AALLLL!!! Come on man. I want to go home.” And out struts Al with his 30’s-ish get-up in honor of Porgy and Bess. And we close Joe’s portion of the set with the Marcus Miller arrangement of “Summertime” that we did in 1994 with super band Eric Gail, David Sanborn, Steve Gad… GERSHWIN. PORGY AND BESS. Obviously, “Children Of The Sun.” The connection is obvious. With bows to Jorg Keller and the NDR band, Joe and I exit shoulder over shoulder. Thanks for the memories!

Love, Al

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