Saturday, October 25, 2008

beauty knows no pangs

traveling in europe is such a privilege.
right now, i am sitting in a mercedes sprinter van and marveling at the mountainous countryside. the snowcapped peaks stab and jut through the clouds. forget about the autumnal massachusetts foliage - these towering trees are burnt to perfection.
the places we've visited in the past week (switzerland, spain, italy) provide the eyes with drastically different kinds of beauty.

in lugano, the 45 degree angle of the rolling hills turned all of us into r. crumb characters (even if you kept your posture proper) and walking became a chore. however, the payoff was big. the hill not only led you into the bustling town square, but if you walked a bit further you could witness a freshwater lake replete with ducks, swans, schooners - all with the backdrop of the alps.

san sebastian, spain. a place with a sort of old world natural beauty that truly grabs and consumes you, in the sunshine or darkness. the evening: we roamed around the narrow, pungent streets with jack and coke rumbling in our bellies. the daytime: a beach with the purest, grainiest sand my feet have ever walked on. muy bueno.

barcelona, spain. didn't get to see too much of it. we were only there for one day. probably the best show of the tour so far. more importantly, best singing audience of my entire career with mr. belew. it was the first time the audience sang in key when the "complicated" part came in on "three of a perfect pair".

milan. can i skip milan? we weren't really in milan at all. our hotel was in some city i can't remember the name of. we did laundry on our first day there and i made an ass of myself by doing "italian social experiments". these "social experiments" involved taking my shirt off and dancing around a laundromat while an old woman stared in horror. at least julie thought it was funny.
of course, on the day of the show my left hand crapped out during soundcheck. up until that point, i really didn't drink enough water. dehydration leads to muscle and ligament weakness. very dangerous for someone who needs to move their limbs in rapid succession. of course, we had two shows in one night at the prestigious blue note jazz club. first show was okay, second show was fantastic.
when we weren't playing or doing laundry, i spent most of my time in the hotel room reading hans richter's book on the history of dadaism. i also wrote 4 bars of music while experiencing the bizarre drunken focus of drinking 3 glasses of red wine with 2 shots of espresso. i call it the tuscan speedball.

anyway, can anyone recommend free video editing software for mac os x?!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

hungary pangs and watching the debates

the fall european tour has commenced.

our travels began a few days ago in budapest, hungary. the flight itinerary was not any more complicated than usual - nashville to detroit, detroit to schiphol, schiphol to budapest. a thin man greeted us with a huge smile that revealed the most interesting set of teeth i've seen in quite some time. andras halmos, the trusty tour guide. i later found out he was an accomplished drummer who has worked with john zorn and many others. he was instrumental in bringing us there, a process that took an entire year.

after sleeping off a little bit of jet lag, we spent the evening wining, dining, laughing, stumbling, and drinking apricot polinkas that evaporated upon contact with the tongue.

the majority of the next day was spent rehearsing and getting ready for our show at the trafo club. after waiting around for hours, we played. blistering energy. nervous excitement. a positive experience. the obligatory post show autograph session. julie decided to use her permanent marker as a tattoo needle. our arms were covered with ink by the end of the night.

we got a few drinks and i tried to sleep, but the final debates came on BBC World. i had missed most of the previous debates. my knowledge of obama's policies was non-existent until this particular event. perhaps it was so moving because i felt as if he was using the camera as a vessel to talk to us. calming and reassuring, like a real president.

mccain was as hostile and agitated as ever and it was painful to hear his small business healthcare plans. idealistic and downright regressive. can you imagine trying to sleep after that?

on our final day in the marvelous city, andras graciously took us over the blue danube via the freedom bridge, which leads to buda (the western part). i had no idea that budapest was divided into two parts (buda and pest). then again, i'm glad i know that hungary is a country (i.e. this awful video)

an observation: the foundation of european culture must be art. the architecture and city design is aesthetically pleasing. streets and buildings intertwine to create a heavy cobblestone labyrinth. underground tunnels take the place of ordinary sidewalks and in the subterranean world avant-garde violinists violently screech for forints. it's culture shock but i'll take the jolt, because i've never been so dissatisfied with the american mainstream until this moment.

do i associate myself with the european way of life? not always, but i know that the U.S.A. would benefit greatly from their philosophies.

hopefully i can post some videos from our stay...
but for now, off to lugano, switzerland.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

hunger pangs or kenny bloggins

before i begin, i just want to say something:

the band magma is amazing.

the past few days of my life have been spent in mount juliet, tennessee at the fabulous chateau belew. we've been working arduously on new material for a piece of music entitled "e". i can't really divulge any information about track titles or anything else, but i can say that it ranks with the best of adrian's material.
you're going to ask anyway:

what is e?

a complex post post-modern symphony. working on it involves a lot of patience and attention, especially when learning the sinewy transitions and breakneck dynamic shifts. a true challenge for an untamed musician such as myself. when writing my parts i try to adapt the steve gadd philosophy of "being behind every note". in other words, this is a serious composition - think about the sum of the parts instead of just thinking about your own.

when we aren't burning our brains on "e", we're shoveling our faces with mexican food at cinco de mayo or getting toasted at j. alexander's. of course, julie always provides excellent lunches, and yesterday was no exception. we filled our gullets with a warm roasted vegetable salad, which was topped off with a side of homemade pita chips and hummus. scrumptious.

i better get back to work though. adrian's music isn't getting any easier by the minute.