Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 17th: Perugia/ Umbria festival

We arrived at the Plaza hotel early in the early afternoon. Our tour guide Bobby briefed the band on how to walk up the hill and reach the festival. The city of Perugia is build on and around a big hill-- there is an elaborate network of escalators, of all things, to help you reach the top. I found his explanation very confusing-- as did much of the band, and opted to stay in my room and get some work done. This is the first time the entire trip that I sat down and wrote something (quite an aberration- considering I practically live in the computer lab at school). I chose to miss a great concert by Bill Frisell--like North Sea, we have artist passes that allow us free access to all of the shows! I chose wisely: one band member got very very lost in the city, for a good 2 hours (and missed the bus to the gig), when he tried to make his way back down the hill. Luckily, he righted himself, and ran into us at the Gary Burton show.
Around 9, we were able to take in a bit of a concert of Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Antonio Sanchez, and Steve Swallow. I recognized the stage: this was the exact place that Keith Jarrett made so famous a few years ago! I wish I could have seen the entire set-- the programming was a little strange-- the first two tunes were both in A minor and were both the same feel-- this being said, they are great musicians and I am grateful that I was able to attend the show.
Now for our concert: I think I played for more people than I ever have in my entire life. We played the 11:30 PM slot (last act) on a stage in an outdoor square. There are several streets that converge at this location: the street and square were packed--If we had to escape quickly, we might as well go down with the ship. I'm not certain as to what 10,000 people packed into a space looks like, so I can't give an exact number-- maybe over 7,000?-- maybe I'll post a picture from the stage at a later time. What energy! The One O'Clock displayed the musicianship it has become famous for-- highlights include a great rendition of Neil Slater's composition "That" (the most difficult chart in the book). Neil was so pleased that he even told the band that they sounded pretty great (which if you know, Neil, is quite an accomplishment-- much preferable to hearing "you are starting to believe your own liner notes"). As the bells range ONE (in the morning) we concluded our set with blazing versions of "Do you have an incendiary device (Got a Match?) and Machito. The crowd applauded vigorously (and was almost all under 30 years old!). In Italy people stay up very late-- the scene was prepped for a huge all-night extravaganza as the square was mobbed with people. The band had its own celebration to undertake: the 17th is Isaac Lamar's birthday, and the 18th is Ryan Hagler's birthday. They received rousing renditions of happy birthday on the way back to the hotel. The band made certain that they partook in an authentically Italian celebration.

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