Montreux – the master class

It doesn’t often work out this way, but this year I have been able to stick around for 2 more really great festival events. Big festivals, like Montreux, which run several days on several stages, will often present unique opportunities, like workshops with other musicians and the public, where an artist can really connect with people in a way that is very personal. Folks can ask questions about music and careers. Sometimes, there are even technique demonstrations. Festival goers really light up with an interest and an enthusiasm and an excitement that goes beyond hearing an artist play music for 75 minutes.

Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon, and we all got together in meeting room at the Montreux Palace Hotel, called Le Petite Palais. You should have heard all the accents on the english language, which were definitely not New York or Chicago. Well, there were questions and comments from some Americans. We had a moderator/radio presenter, Yvan Ischer. He is an amazing jazz buff historian who can tell you who played with whom in 1968, and who played with Diz. It got to be over the top! He is also a serious horn player. He lead our discussion, and the questions from him and the audience were wide ranging, and offered the opportunity for me and Joe Turano to talk about my (our) musical influences, variety of music, and its importance. the words and message that singers can choose from, hip hop and jazz, and even about my religious notions.

Wow, this is great stuff to do with an audience! From time to time, and from one interview to the next, I get a chance to talk about these things, but never with 200+ curious ears and eyes in the room with me. I love it, and so does Joe Turano. Even before this new “Al and Joe duo,” Joe would very often join me in these kinds of workshops and academy occasions (Thelonious Monk). He’s a great musician, and thinker, and has an important view point on lots of music topics. I’m loving this. We’re heading into new territory.

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