Szczecin, Poland

I couldn’t sleep at all last night! And I was tired from working all last week and then doing two long day rehearsals with Joseph Anthony. I should have slipped in a deep long sleep, but what was I doing? Almost walking in circles, nervous and excited, then laying down knowing, “Now I’ll go to sleep!” Nope! More walking in circles. And then a song came to me called Szczecin. I found so many wonderful words to rhyme with Szczecin Session, guessing’, confessin’, lesson… you get it. You try it. A couple more tries to go to sleep, and then it’s morning already. 11 o’clock AM, and time to get going for real. This will be the debut, sho’nuff for real, first concert for me and Joe Turano as a duo. I can’t believe how quickly it has come. It seemed like there was so much time to get ready.

Well, off we go, to sound check with Magdalena, from the Filharmonia Szczecin. She was so sweet and gracious. Now check this out, in walks Take 6. Whaaat!!! They will play tonight, in the same place, that we will play tomorrow. I should do a quick review of how unbelievable these meetings are with Take 6. I love them since 1984, when they were Alliance, at Oakwood College, in Huntsville, Alabama. Seminary school. My father sang in a quartet with Mark Kibble’s great grandfather. Claude McKnight, brother of Brian McKnight, is from the wonderful McKnight family in Buffalo, New York. My dad met their uncle, Bill, on a visit with his sister, my aunt, Edith. Uncle Bill and my Dad have to be the only two black guys in american who played musical saw. They jammed together during the forties, in Buffalo. What a connection. We hugged and had laughing smiling prayer together. That was amazing.

Now back to sounding checking with Joe Turano… I commented when we came in how weird it felt, not hearing the full band in the auditorium. Normally, there’s drums and bass and sometimes Larry playing flute, or Joe playing tenor. Today, all I can hear is Joe Turano’s keyboard. That’s really different, and a reminder of future times for me and Joe doing this duo show.

To start the evening, we’re using Brenda Russell’s “Jarreau.” And then, off we go for a big romp through “The Great City.” Great song. This program that Joe and I have put together, at the moment, will evolve to be a better and better balance of my own familiar recorded things, and brand new music, and special songs of other artists. I was so personally touched and impressed with this debut concert in Szczecin, my first time, also being my debut full concert performance by me and Joe. There’s something kind of exquisitely planned in heaven “coincidence” when you take a close look at it. This audience has been hearing my music on their radio and records for forty years, but tonight will be our first time appearing here live, and they will hear the first premier full performance of Jarreau Joe duo. Quite a test run.

Folks who know both situations would have commented how tiny and close and intimate this thousand seat auditorium felt. I even talked about learning about kielbasa and other polish sausage from Milwaukee, where I grew up with kids from high schools called Pulaski and Don Bosco and Kuziesko, where kids used to playfully used to call me “Jarreausky”. That’s what I call my son, Ryan, today. I hope I can continue to be as fun and inciteful as I was on this first night about what Joe and I hope to be to able to share with audiences. Somehow, it occurred to me that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Harrison Ford don’t get the opportunity to do what we’re doing tonight. We’re touching hearts together, we’re thinking loving, kind thoughts about each other and the world, we’re clapping hands and having “church.” Except you can dance here! Thank you father, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Somehow, all of that came tumbling out of my mouth in just the right way. Wow.

We did versions of “Better than Anything”, and “Take 5”, and “My Old Friend”, which were familiar listens but sprinkled in some unheard things that I won’t mention now. I’m keeping it a surprise for you! Joe and I clasped hands on stage and exited to a standing O. Shewww! The promoter and his staff and house people and Magdalena were grinning and reassuring to me and Joe. We signed a bunch of CDs and programs in the lobby, and soaked it all in. I felt like a real Jarreausky. See you in Montreux!


Al Jarreausky

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