31 May 2006

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The Tentet played their last two-set concerts of this tour on the 24th and 25th, in Salzburg and Dachau. After this we travelled to Bergen, then we’ll head to Stirling; both of these are festival gigs and that unfortunately means only about an hour of music for the band. I really struggled on the first set in Salzburg, one of those nights where every choice felt like a mistake. It seemed like I dragged the music down every time I tried to contribute. The second set went better, probably due to the adrenaline derived from my frustration. In any case, the band was swinging hard and beyond my interference anyway with another great audience in attendance.

Dachau proved to be extra important in my case because Peter gave me one of his La Voz clarinet reeds to use. I’d been bugging him for most of the tour about clarinet details on how to build the instrument’s sound. His tone is like a Sidney Bechet to Ab Baar’s John Carter, but both of them get that horn to really speak at all dynamic levels. He was probably sick of my questions at that point, and most likely suggested trying his reed brand as a way to get me to stop bothering him. I’m glad he did so, however, because when I tried playing with those reeds my tone really opened up. Another step in the right direction for the clarinet, and god knows each one helps.

Glimpses:

Ruined shoes, dirty clothes, lack of sleep but travelling in good company… Wolfgang in Wels ends the night’s conversation by stating, “I am completely sure that I have no idea…” Some real beauty walks by in a nice pair of slax… The understanding sets in that you’re really on tour because it becomes easier to sleep vertically than horizontally… Seeing the complete logic behind Paal putting wet sox in a shopping bag so that they can dry while we catch the trains… Watching some laughing kids walk to school across a concrete bridge above a railway station until they’re out of view, trying to remember what that felt like… A sudden realization that, other than for a few days in Chicago, I will be living out of suitcase for another month… Sitting at another cafe, watching the afternoon’s parade of insanity go by, exhausted and sleepless…

-Ken Vandermark, Bergen.

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