8 December 2005


The band’s return to Poland after our March 2004 tour (which resulted in the Alchemia box set) was exceptional from start to finish. Our performance in Poznan was filmed for Polish television, and I’m hoping to get a copy of that as a visual document of the group in action. The circumstances in Wroclaw felt a bit tough for much of the concert, but by the end of the show the audience was extremely enthusiastic in its response. And to be back in Cracow again was incredible, particularly on the second night when both the concert and the audience were stellar. Very glad that this music was recorded by the Not Two label again as there is some talk of trying to do a special production with the television production in Poznan as a dvd and the Cracow performance as a cd, but we will see. There is always a special feeling for me when I am in Poland, and I hope that there will be an opportunity to bring me back to that country very soon.

Ah, this brings us to the final stretch of the tour- early mornings and LONG train rides. Basically, the band worked on 2-3 hours of sleep a night, with an extra hour of rest here and there on the trains. Thankfully, at this point the ensemble really understood the music, and the new pieces were working well. Whatever energy we had could be completely directed into the performances, not diverted by having to run the material during sound checks in order to figure out how to make the pieces work. These compositions will be recorded in Chicago with Bob Weston next week after a return concert at the Empty Bottle, the first of three Tuesdays during December in our old home.

The last concert of my fall period in Europe was a highlight. The Vandermark 5 played at its highest level and the concert was recorded for future broadcast on Italian radio. This performance was essentially organized around the new work- Some Not All, Reciprocal, Morricone, La Dernier Cri, Aperture, Convertible, and The Ladder. A kind of test, putting them side by side to see if they’ll work as parts of an album. I think they do, and it seems as if this latest material puts the band in a different direction, which is extremely exciting. In addition, the audience at the concert was one of the best I’ve ever played to in Italy. Really a perfect experience.

Then, it was time to board a 4:30am water taxi to the airport, one last bit of absurdity before heading home. Kent and I had to pile the baritone trunk, the bass trunk, the suitcases and our exhausted bodies into a motor boat that sped out over open water to our flight back to Chicago. As we hit the waves and I watched the bass trunk rock back and forth next to the “taxi driver” (who was completely oblivious to what was happening, and probably also half asleep) I assumed that things would end with the bass in the water and Kent swimming after it. Somehow this wouldn’t have surprised me. Actually, nothing surprises me anymore, except on stage.

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