Rotterdam – North Sea Jazz Festival 7/12/14

Sunday morning. It’s the day after the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam and we’re driving to the airport. I’m thinking that I ought to be on my way to church to give thanks. And so I am! In my heart! It’s a little bit grey and cloudy, certainly not summery as it often is up here by the cold North Sea. Very often the winter seems to linger into summer and that’s why the residents will also be on this plane to Spain like we are. But oh, my friend, it was hot in the main hall last night. Easily 15,000 people back-to-back and belly-to-belly. If you want to sit, you’ll be consigned to a bleacher section way out back. North Sea Jazz Festival is like a contemporary Woodstock Event. And all about Jazz. Amazing! It’s more than a half-mile square of booths and performance venues where on any one night of four at this festival you could catch Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, or George Benson. At night, the contemporary neon lighting on the sides of main venues with the festival rival with sections of Times Square. This is the largest Jazz Festival in the world and has been since the days of Den Haag. I’m like, “Go ahead! Go for it! Get garish for Jazz!” Some of the performers are youthful and strongly influenced by contemporary hip/hop and rock music but courageously mixing in their own fresh jazz concepts. This has always been one of the ten commandments of jazz. Be yourself in today’s world. Know your horn and improvise.

Back-to-back, belly-to-belly as far as you could see and all teenagers…or so it seemed to me. The average age of the people that I saw was under 25. And they got their “jump up and down” booming groove on. We went to the venue at least 2 and half hours before. Alain Clark hit their spark and you could hear them singing and screaming chorus that they knew. He’s one of the hot new kids on the block that will surely remember this day in his young life. A kick in the ass!

You take a deep breath and roll right through eleven songs in 60 minutes. Three of them were ballads, but power ballads so to speak. The audience stayed with us and sang on choruses and waved their hands back and forth. There was no sound check and I know all of us on stage struggled to hear one another, but this is where that combination of talent, devotion, experience, and being “tight” carries the day. It was on! We were on! Chris and Joe came with beautiful breaths of fresh air, John and Larry flashed like rockers, and Mark was a rock.

This will always be one of those “big event” type gigs, like I mentioned a couple of pages ago. The eyes and ears of the world are watching! And if it’s good, it’s great. Lots of smiles and hugs all around. But believe me, it came and went in a flash…details are blurry…missing time! But the audience was grinnin’!

I got to spend a few precious moments with Stevie before his set. He was remarkably relaxed, cool, and warm with well wishes and congrats across the board and across the years. I gave him a hug with my LOVE and hurried off to catch up with some Netherlands family folk, Monique, Monic, and Herbert. All in all, it was a wonderful night that I will always remember.
Until next time…


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