My soul was warmed, however, by the very intimate gathering at actress Glenn Close’s amazing house outside of Portland, Maine. She and her Husband David threw a party for the band after our concert, and most the JLCO came, still in their Brooks Brothers suits, happy to eat the incredible soul food that seemed to be prepared for just the band and maybe about four other of Glenn and David’s close (no pun intended) friends.
That night it also happened to be my Dad’s birthday, and while we were partying on the East Coast, he was celebrating 3,000 away in Los Angeles at a surprise bash given by his partner Shelly. I brought my laptop and got on Skype and we played and sang happy birthday to him. Glenn Close even got on the screen and offered her good wishes. (big thanks to vocalist Cat Conner for setting up the Skype call!) A little later, Wynton, Ali Jackson, Glenn and I jammed on New Orleans tune that I didn’t know and was messing up, but it was fun. Here’s a short clip:
A couple days later we played the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and suddenly I found myself walking in the streets for miles with no jacket, enjoying the 55 degree weather. It felt physically and emotionally like spring had arrived.
Our repertoire out here has been as diverse as the weather, playing music spanning about 80 years, including early Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman, John Lewis, and recently commissioned pieces by band members Sherman Irby and Chris Crenshaw. It doesn’t seem to matter what music we play, or when it was written - the band always brings a modern energy to the performance.
By the time we had arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, winter was back, making up for lost time. Our flight from Toronto in a small prop jet somehow made it through the blizzard that appeared right around take-off time. That night we played one of our favorite halls, the Hill Auditorium, which seats about 4,000 people. The band was really playing. I left the concert that night thinking I am so lucky to among such great musicians and people. Each playing experience is completely unique. I wouldn’t trade the job of being a musician for any other.
Well, after three days in a row of early hotel departures (5:00, 5:15 and 3:45) I am back in NYC recharging my batteries. We’re back out on Tuesday for another week, taking us through the South (thank God!).