Orléans, France

We begin the summer tour. I am trying to keep it so light and casual with jokes about New Orleans being named after this town in France. And Brian and I walk along the Loire river and think out loud, “Well this could be the Mississippi River. During those days Jazz was in infancy in juke joints and lots of churches and on back door steps. And we sang in front of St. Croix cathedral as big as Notre Dame with an active monastery, we dress in monastic chambers and cubicles… we changed clothes and put on our stupid shirts and ties. And tonight I will many times direct attention to the fact that these our holy grounds where smart and learned men have studied the relationship between man and God. AND NOW, I can begin my summer tour here in this place as I pray to be healthy and well, and POWERFUL.. music is healing… (more about that later)… Ask me. Our new commitment in France with Bernard Dulau is to go to Orléans and Normandy and Toulouse and Bordeaux and Marseille and bring this music to the people. And tonight there are more than 3,000 people from this provincial town. Obviously like the rest of France this audience represents a new home for jazz. And these province visits are what I did many years ago.

Yes, French mothers and dads came with their children and now those kids are back with their little “squirmies.” A little girl with curly blonde hair and a pink dress twirled and danced all night long holding the hems of her pink dress. She was irrepressible even though her dad reached out several times to try to keep her still. I loved it and I’ll never forget. Her little brother looked on in amazement. He couldn’t possibly know what you know, and what goes on in your little girl head. It’s a secret. Maybe the monks might know.

Brian and my son Ryan were excitedly taking pictures of the cathedral even at night. It really is as big as Notre Dame in Paris. It’s a good first night.

And maybe silly Al Jarreau with the putty nose and clown shoes… good music but always laugh and smile. And so we kissed pneumonia goodbye… get on the carpet and fly. And always give thanks. Merci New Orleans. You put “new winds” beneath my wings. Thank you Orléans. I am better, I am healed. My father’s home, the minister preacher, New Orleans.

Grownups make tiny little figures against the huge cathedral doors. Ryan and I talked to Susan on the phone while we drove to Amsterdam. I shared with her the brilliance of that evening in front of the cathedral. The festival is called Orléans Jazz… It really is. At the interview after the concert we talked about how important it is that France is that the country of France has adopted American jazz like proud and pleased parents. And, there are French musicians playing it as well as Americans. And they study it the same way they study philosophy and poetry and ballet.

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