Pescara, Italy 7/22/14

Pescara, Italy 2014

Italy! This is the oldest western history of the planet. You can go to Asia and Africa and find older civilizations but Rome and it’s environment and traditions are the cradle of all of our learning and culture of Europe and much of the Americas and its territories. And in some way B.B. King’s Blues and Bruce Springsteen’s Rock ‘n’ Roll contains concepts, melodies, and expressions that are part of an evolving cultural blossoming that began alongside a river in Rome.

Italy. It’s gorgeous to see and smell and feel in the warm spirit of the people. We just did Umbria Jazz Festival and now we’re on a bus the day after the Pescara Jazz Festival driving to Venice. This countryside is as green and lush as Tennessee or Ireland. And today we will be driving for 4 hours along the beautiful Adriatic coastline. As I look out my window, it seems to be a mile away with an incredible dividing line of dark blue water above to pale green water below as the sea approaches the land. I’ve never seen that so apparent before. And there are acres of sunflowers as far as the eye can see! It reminds me of Marciac, France.

My last time here was at least 12 years ago but that was one of the many times that I have played here. Their welcome was loud and warm and as we moved through our program of old and new, loud and soft, they seemed receptive to this journey. If you’re not careful to insist on reaching into the new writings and recordings, you could get wonderfully stuck in simply playing the hits from the past. This can be a great journey of repertoire design.

I talked about a photo that the promoter showed me from 1985 of the two of us. He said I commented at a press conference that this festival is being watched over and blessed by Bill Evans, a patron saint who played the very first festival in 1969.

My sister, Rose, says, “You’re a very lucky man, Al Jarreau.” From 4th and Reservoir in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I NEVER forget that everyday is Thanksgiving.

The lights were in my eyes so I couldn’t see the audience, but I wanted to see them. I also wanted them to see each other and deliberately join my in celebrating this little reunion. 12 years is a long time and 1985 is last century but here we are preserving and hanging on to this special music and its message. When beautiful, young singer, Simona Molinari from Napoli, wearing a long, white evening gown clinging to her Milano fashion show frame, takes my arm, the night takes on another sparkle and significance. At this point in her career, she has decided that she must sing the standards and established herself as a solid young jazz singer who knows the roots. Everybody sits back down with a grin of expectation as she soars into the opening lines of Gershwin’s “summertime”. WELL SSHUT DA FRONT DOOR! It’s a total surprise for the audience and we shared the torch in rhythm.

Hard to say much more after that, but it’s time to get up and party, y’all! There were so many people hoping for this “magic – hipbone” moment. They came down the side aisles and sang and danced.

We’ve lost the sea on this drive to Venice, but still riding in the afternoon sunshine with sunflowers and olive trees. Excited for the final show of this European tour. I can’t believe it’s all come to an end in one short month…but my laundry bag would say otherwise.

See you in Venice!



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