VERTICAL VISION TOUR STORIES - VOL.1
Posted on 6/19/2003at 7:04 AM
I know, I know.....

It's been a very long time since I've left a real update on the website, but when you read the Vertical Vision tour stories, hopefully, you'll understand.....

On February 22nd, we left the USA for Paris, France where the VV tour kicked off. I was a little nervous because I hadn't played in Paris with my own band since 1996. Fortunately, the New Morning Club came through BIG TIME! We played to a sold-out house, and the crowd was absolutely fantastic. It was the perfect way to start off the tour. Absolutely perfect.

The following night, the great crowds continued at the Jazz Cafe in London. I was a little nervous about the London crowd for the opposite reason - I've played in London so much with the CMB these last few years, I thought they'd be tired of us. But alas, they came through, too. The place was packed. The tour couldn't have gotten started any better. Next was Moscow, Russia....

I went to Moscow once in 1990 (or maybe it was '91) with the Mingus Big Band, and I wasn't sure how the crowd would react to the VV sound. When we landed in Moscow, we had exactly 2 1/2 hours to get to the gig. Our gig started at 8:30, our flight landed at 6pm. We knew we were going to have a tough time getting through immigration with all of our equipment, but MAN.....we got "GOT!" We were in immigration for almost 2 hours! Had it not been for the representative from the club being there, we would have been there for 2 more hours. When we finally got to the club, the place was packed, and we were tired, sweaty, funky, and didn't necessarily feel like playing a gig after being asked what our great, great, great, great grandparents' maiden names were! (Well, not quite, but you understand) Anyway, we rushed to the stage, and low and behold, there were a bunch of guys from PHILLY sitting in the front row! I walked out on stage, and some cat shouted out "SOUTH PHILLY, BABY! GO EAGLES!" Can you dig that? All the way in Russia! We had a wonderful three nights there. Got a lot of sightseeing in, too. I hope we can go back soon. After Russia, we went to Germany. Sigh......

See, hmmm, how could I describe what happened in Germany? Uhhh, see, it's like, uhhh, you see, it seems as though the company who promoted our concerts - in good faith, mind you - thought that our band would somehow fit well under the "classic jazz" part of their subscription, semi-exclusive patron pack. Sort of as if Jazz at Lincoln Center was promoting our shows. I'm a big supporter of J@LC, but our band performing there would be like Gary, Indiana hosting the Oscars, dig? So, when we saw that we were scheduled to play big 2,000 and 3,000 seat classical music halls in a co-bill with the Gary Burton/Makoto Ozone duo, we got a little uh, worried. A few days before we left the USA to start the tour, we found out that our German promoter had finally gotten around to listening to "Vertical Vision." Needless to say, he freaked out. It was not the "classic jazz" he assumed it would be. There was a mad scramble to find smaller, kinder halls that were more acoustic-friendly to electric sounding music. It didn't happen in time. Consequently, our show in Dusseldorf was cancelled due to "low ticket sales", our show in Frankfurt went ok. Just a moderate ok. Frieburg is where our worst nightmares came true. When we walked out on stage and saw tails and furs and opera glasses (well, almost...) in the audience, all I could think was "we're screwed!!!" I knew "Technicolor Nightmare" would literally kill someone in the audience, so I wondered how I could somehow sneak the band's sound on this crowd. So, we opened with Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew." (Yeah, real good choice, McBride!) Man, those folks ran out of there like someone set off a stink bomb!! Ironically, I wasn't offended. I wasn't offended because those people were made to believe that we were coming to play "classic" jazz. Had I heard Gary and Makoto play thier wonderful classical/jazz set, and then heard these big dashiki wearing, corn row wearing, tye-dyed t-shirt, keyboard and pedalboard totin' psuedo-jazz-rock brothers playing this crazy mess, I would have left, too!! So, Frieburg, I'm sorry you were led on. After Frieburg, we played in Stuttgart. Another moderate ok. Fortunately, our show in Berlin was moved to the SoulTrane club. It certainly helped boost our spririts. We had a great time and a great crowd, but then again, of course it was cool. It was Berlin! After Berlin, our final concert was in Hamburg. It was again, ok. I can't wait to go back there in another venue. I love the town. Lots of friends. Thank goodness they were there. After Hamburg, we came back to the USA. WHEW!!!!!

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