Torino, Italy – 2015

Torino, Italy – 2015

Dramatically speaking, this date on the summer tour calendar was as distant as Pluto. I guess I said that before. Well here we are on a return visit with just a few more miles to go as we are closing out the summer tour, which had so many question marks surrounding it—mainly having to do with my new back. The answer in short is that I’m finding a new Al Jarreau who is less physically busy on stage but has found another door open up that has gotten me inside the music in a new and special way. I’m hearing and seeing things that I had not before!

It’s hotter than blue blazes here in the city, but here comes cool, sweet Roberta to welcome us back to Torino…to one of those “new in the world” Italian performing venues that’s part of a shopping mall. They’re taking the music to the people. That’s a brilliant concept. That particular iPhone/Blackberry/Shopping crazy audience has been slipping away because we somehow don’t get to them in their gathering place. This will be a serious situation for the new artist to deal with.

I have to say that Italy as much as any country has kept quite good focus on traditional musical concepts and ways of performing. Puccini, Verde, Pavarotti, and Caruso will always be at the top of their charts (and for me, Cecilia Bartoli—a rising star). So for them to have accepted and enjoyed my music since the first record in 1975 is quite a compliment.

The outdoor cabins backstage are small but comfortable and cool. And cool…I’ll say it twice! We start at 10:00pm and are thankful for sundown. And, wow, I’m stunned that this place has the feel of a permanent outdoor music amphitheater. And there’s 2,500 people out there…sold out. Thank you, God. And they’re immediately singing, “I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words…”. And then they’re right into singing “I need somebody” from “Black and Blues”. Pretty hip sing-a-long. I love it. These simple little sing-a-long phrases are interspersed with some very serious instrumental stuff. And the reaction to a new song called “Great City” has been wonderful every time. It’s like Jimmy Smith’s organ meets the Count Bassie band and Joe Williams. Stompin’.

When it’s comfortable sometimes I meander in my thoughts on stage and this one was one to remember. I meandered into the comment “what a wonderful pope we have these days.” He cares about poor people and all who need help. He was just in South America doing that. And further more, this IS our responsibility to each other. Lots of heads nodding up and down. No standing ovation but I think they got it. That will be one of my favorite meanderings.

We made a few changes in the program that bring back a couple more well known Jarreau standards that gets smiles of recognition. Pretty soon we’re doing “Boogie Down” and “Roof Garden” and saying good night…. They jump on my first “day-o”, almost inaudible like an afterthought. Then I pick it up and continue and somewhere Harry Belafonte’s going, “What?!”.

I stopped and signed a few autographs before getting on the bus, and just like when we left the stage, everyone is all smiles, grinning and chuckling and laughing with real delight about a wonderful evening.

Off to Germany we go!



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