Orlando, FL – 2015

Orlando, Florida. Old downtown theater. I walked in for sound check and just felt so reassured and at home hearing the band on stage already bubbling along and cookin’. My family! On my way over to say hello to them Joe Gordon, my manager, quickly directed my attention to the stairs leading to the downstairs dressing room to which I responded in a loud voice, “Oh no…more chairs, less stairs.” The house crew covered their mouths and doubled over in laughter at this reaction from the headliner. Four simple words instead of a run of expletives.

At sound check I was thinking and feeling that this room is a great little venue. 800 seats including the balcony with everybody nearly arms reach away. It’s hard to get rich with a penthouse in New York and Paris and a boat in Monaco when you sing and play in rooms this size, but this kind of intimacy brings out the humanity and feelings that the music can suggest. It’s perfect for me. They even responded immediately and positively to my statement, “all of this has come from a source”.

We switched the order of songs and added new music that brings a new zest…like the early appearance of “Mornin’” and “Take Five” within the first ten minutes. This covers a lot of territory of the required song playlist. And so we reached deep in the bag for freshness and pulled out “Moonlighting”. You should have seen and heard the reaction. Then Turano played a serous jazz cadenza on “We’re in this love together” that was a surprise and delight and made me sing the whole song just slightly different as I anticipated what he was going to do. You go, Joe! The whole band felt the fresh air. Chick Corea’s “Spain” is a complex form that has a wonderful surprise written in. We’re getting pretty good at playing it. We finished the set list and the band left the stage while I stood there and tried to figure out what to do next. I surprised myself when my voice went, “day-o” and everybody responded with a descending line that comes next in the classic banana boat song. Wow! The whole place lifted off the ground and went sideways tumbling head over heels. Fun…we were having it…and that’s the high point; everyone losing their worries and cares and being a kid again. Child’s play. Magically you get rejuvenated, restored, and HEALED. And that’s alchemy of the highest order…taking ordinary sound and light and brass and ebony and ivory and making gold. No, it’s better than gold. Harry Belafonte! I should stop here and spend an hour talking about this brilliant, groundbreaking artist. You can never say enough about him, and you could write a book about his civil rights activism alone.

Oh there’s Shannon West from Smooth Views in the front row. She came all the way from Jacksonville, FL and I’m touched and flattered every time she shows up because we’ve been interviewing and talking for years. She is so smart and intelligent as an observer and writer and she loves jazz with all her heart and soul. Check out Smooth Views.

We all said good night, and my gang and I hopped on the bus for a late night snack and a 5-hour ride to Miami.

See you there,


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