Scottsdale, AZ – Arizona Music Festival

The whole experience, from the first phone calls that I made to the radio station and press, to the concert itself, were truly a wonderful delightful, laughing, and smiling experience. You guys in Phoenix are a rarity on the planet, you know?! Your continuing support for and interest in jazz, America’s music as much as and before rock n’ roll, is extraordinary and wonderful and necessary. I’m going all over the place and wishing for just what you gave to me every day.

You filled that two thousand seat church, with your smiles and bright eyes and open hearts and a real interest in my band in me. That kind of interaction between the people on stage and the audience really makes and encourages people on stage to give their all and their best. I felt you. You were there for us. You’ve been there for me since the “We Got By” album. That’s 41 years. Wow, that’s 41 years.

Highlands Church is a wonderful venue, and you’re so close to us, that we can almost reach out and touch you. I love that. The closer, the better. Joe Turano, my music director/horn player/keyboard player, played and sang with inspiration. You heard and clapped and applauded your approval. And when Chris Walker, my bass player, came down and sang a duet with me, I felt and saw the surprise and delight in your eyes, and how we all went to a wonderful new tangent. That’s the $#-%!  John Calderon and I tried a new little venture with “We’re in this Love Together,” sharing a starting vamp, with just the two of us. And when he went to the familiar guitar lick, you guys heard it and clapped, and said, “Oh, yeah!!!” Once again, that’s the $#-%! To venture something new on stage of an improvisational sort, and have it received well out there in the audience, that’s not just marking time and walking in place – that’s sharing the experience, you, and the band, and the situation, and finding it refreshing. In short, that’s the story of jazz and improvised music. It’s looking for something delightful in this particular moment now, with your faces as inspiration, and going for it. That happened with Mark on drums, too. Of course he plays well for everything, but he solo’d for you last night, and played something different because of last night’s different situation. Oops, sorry, Larry! I missed the entrance on “My Old Friend,” but it didn’t disturb you at all. And when you pick up the silver flute, it’s a killer. Every body in the room feels it.

After an intermission, we came back with some old standbys like “After All,” that was requested in writing more than 3 times. And Take Five, which you guys recognized, even with the strange new start we’ve adddeed. And “Boogie Down” and “Roof Garden” were really big hits last night. You stood up and danced! That’s really fantastic and when jazzy people feel the groove like that, they go “party!”

All of this means we should come back next soon, and often. Thank you, KJZZ, thank you donors and sponsors, and thank you Highlands Church for your youth educational programs and love for jazz and the arts. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Call the station, call the promoter, call the festival!



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