We are now one week into our second leg of this six-week tour. I am writing this in the Madrid airport as we wait to board our plane to Niza (Nice). The economy is really hurting here in Spain, but it’s great to see people coming out to our concerts. Hopefully, we are lifting their spirits a little, helping them to take their minds off hard times, if only for a couple hours.
With the exception of our performance in Valencia, all our concerts are outdoors, which means sound checks in the blazing sun, reeds drying out, hot brass in your hands, expanding bass strings, trouble hearing each other on stage, battles with intonation. But somehow we get it together. Perhaps because of these obstacles we try a little harder, and the end result is some pretty swinging sh**!
Our programming has been interesting, a kind of toggle between old and new, historic and contemporary. We will play a movement from Wynton’s Vitoria Suite, and then follow with Snake Rag from the 20s, and it doesn’t feel strange. While I tend to favor the more modern pieces in our repertoire, I get so much enjoyment hearing the band play these classics with both respect and modern breath.
It seems that whenever we come to Spain it is festival time, which also means the running of the bulls in Pamplona. When you come down to breakfast in the morning the hotel invariably has the TV on to some news channel, and it’s the same image you have seen year after year - narrow European streets filled with people, some more brave (stupid?) than others, making sharp turns, opening up into longer stretches where the bulls gather speed, people grabbing the horns and running along as long as possible, until literally diving to the side to avoid getting trampled by the bulls right behind them. Then the news program will change stories and you will be watching an update of the Tour de France. Something with a completely different energy, but sharing a similar sense of urgency. I have an idea - why not combine the two sports? Have the bulls chasing the bikes through the streets. “Toro de France,” perhaps?
Gotta get on a plane...