St. Moritz, Switzerland


This attitude and state of mind deserves several hard-bound volumes. They exist if you search. There are some successful and fabulously wealthy and smart people who point to gratitude as the cause… The doorway and pathway to their great fortune. It’s about counting your blessings and being grateful, and in enumerating the things your grateful for. That allows freedom from negativity, and is a fertile field for more blessings.

The band and I talk about being chosen and blessed with this magic carpet called music… Pause… I’m 73 and still getting to do it. Thank you, dear Father, thank you dear God. I helped only by seeing it and feeling it and dreaming it and going for it.

The Swiss really love jazz. Today! They listen to it, play it, and festival it. The Montreux Jazz Festival is Swiss. Thank you to the late Claude Nobs. The St. Moritz Festival da Jazz is much smaller, and really kind of private and intimate, taking place at a 200-seat club that goes by the crazy name “Dracula.” I asked Rolf, the club’s owner and one of the original founders: How did that name come to be? Well. I mentioned it early on in the show, and announced that I’d ask him come to the mic and tell everyone. “You take your time, and come up with a real good lie.” Everyone laughed, and looked forward to that moment, which I followed through on. The real story is: His friends were a group of crazy bobsled Olympic dudes who would sled all night long, even infamously in a casket. The insanity of all this is part of the charm and allure.

No stage. Same level as the audience. The front row was full of grown men, very successful in their business lives, sitting cross-legged like kids at summer camp, smiling and grinning along with their wives and children, all sharing the same childlike excitement. Beyond that front row were red square stools in more rows extending to the back of the room, only 20 feet away. They bumped and banged into Joe Turano’s elbows as he played keyboards and sax. Mark, our drummer, sat in the fireplace. He couldn’t lean back. His shoulders touched the mantle. I say it again… He was sitting in the fireplace. They bumped into Larry’s back on my right. This was a throwback place.

A throwback to the origins and environments where this music was born. This is The Blue Note, The Village Vanguard, and Jazz Workshop. (Smoky, in those days.) How fun. And no air conditioning.

I’ll tell you, we could’ve played Mary Had A Little Lamb, or the Too Fat Polka. These people were in such wonderful anticipation and excitement about this little happening. They’ve been listening to my music since 1975!  They and the whole European community have given Jazz a wonderful second home. They love it, they play it, they festival it. In this same tiny building on the side of a mountain sandwiched between a golf course and the world’s first bobsled run, many of my friends and colleagues are also on the bill: David Sanborn, Joe Sample and Randy Crawford, the fabulous Ute Lemper, The Brecker Brothers Experience—And more European jazzers than you can shake a rolled up Downbeat Magazine at.

The whole night was full of unwritten ad libbed improvisations, and funny pitter-patter moments with the audience. After we said goodnight, we got called back for an encore. When the entire band came down front to sing Puddit, we all sang to a young family, sitting on the floor in the front, multiplying the intimacy. How could that be? It did.

We left the stage again, and got called back for another encore—The set was already long, and we were pressed for time, and our tour manager was trying to get us on the bus for an overnight drive.  And, and, and… BUT. I forget all about that when I’m on stage. Larry and I were into a low and slow easy does it version of Summertime, when I felt the sudden urge to pull up a classic tune: A mashup of Agua De Beber and Mas Que Nada= Agua Mas! Little did I know that the band was already in the dressing room. It started off just Larry and me, with Turano ready on the spot. Then John came back in with his guitar. Then Chris with his bass—John was playing the shekere to give some percussion feel in between his guitar parts—Where was Mark? Chris was playing bass with his right hand, a shaker egg with his left, and Mark’s hi-hat with his foot. 3 minutes into the song, Mark shows up to rocket propel the song over the top. I didn’t learn til later that he was already changing getting ready for the bus. Caught with his trousers down! It was almost like we planned it that way, and the audience loved it.

The band had a wonderful night and wonderful time, and we all hated to go. But we’re due in Italy in 15 hours. We better get going!

Thanks, St. Moritz. Thanks Christian and Rolf. And Rebecca! And the fabulous Kulm Hotel.

Love, Al

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