Venice, Italy 7/25/14

High-larious! There is no other way to describe the twists and turns of life that can have you rolling on the floor in sidesplitting laughter if you allow yourself. I’ll get to the performance in a minute :). All my life I’ve dreamed of Venice and a romantic gondola ride with the love of my life by my side and “O Sole Mio”. Maybe it’s just not supposed to be. This is in fact my first time in Venice and instead of the above, here I sit in what must be the smallest hotel room that I’ve ever been in and it’s drizzling rain out on the patio.

Well I hope you can tell that I just love this wonderful little joke on me. It’s a warm summer rain and in fact, right here in front of me is truly romantic Italy.

We played in a shopping mall last night and for my joys and tastes, it was the highlight of the tour. Could you imagine? Totally unexpected…a shopping mall. Thank you to our promoters, Roberta and Fabio. I was stunned when I walked onto this stage with seven or eight shops that made up the back wall of this extraordinary and unusual theater performance space. There were neon lights glaring…and yes; there was a McDonald’s. But in that space there were close to 1,000 people. Immediately in front of me were plastic tables and chairs in this atrium where shoppers moved with packages and refreshments from one store to another, but tonight more than a thousand of them had gathered there on purpose to here Al Jarreau—or was it to buy shoes and Al Jarreau will be here too?? The point is that here in a mall people gathered as if it was a typical concert space.

I had to stop and deliberately comment on the genius of this music setting. Nave de Vero, which means ship of glass in Italian, is the name of the mall and this special series called Nave de Vero Jazz also brought on Take 6 and Chiara Civello weeks before. This event brings the music to the people where they live, shop, and tweet. An improvised setting like this takes all of the tension out of the air and promotes a looseness that sparks great performances…we had one. We do stuff that “funkifies” and pounds away with inescapable and undeniable rhythms. But when Joe Turano can walk forward with his sax and hypnotize with the introduction to a ballad like “Teach Me Tonight” and I observe them feeling the subtleties of the song, something magical has happened to a place that can be like Grand Central Station.

When we bowed down front, they stood up and shouted, “Grande!” and stayed standing until we returned with encores. And sure enough, the funk did not disappoint. But not until we surprised them with my version of Elton John’s, “Your Song”, a big favorite in Italy.

200 people found their way to the backstage area and were yelling and screaming when we came down the stairs.

So I put on my jacket, took a deep breath, and looked at Sammy who had the bags already packed and said, “We did it…great tour…let’s go home.”

Until next time…



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