The next morning, Tim Daisy and our Polish hostess with the most-est, Ania, were going to play basketball to win a bet over who was the better player. Dave, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and I tagged along, as well as some other friends who were at the gig the night before, including the club manager who had been yelled at by the ghost. The other guys from the quintet were just going to watch Tim, but pretty much everyone else who was there wanted to play, so I joined in to help out Tim so the game could be three against three. The other guy playing with us dropped out after a few minutes, so Dave decided to play too. Basically, I figured we were going to have our asses handed to us; I haven’t played basketball since high school, and according to Dave, if he “never had to move faster than a slow walk,” he’d be happy. Never underestimate the power of a working band, however. That morning in Sanok, next to a beautiful river, on a basketball court built primarily from potholes, which lay under the watchful eye of a leftover Russian tank, and against all reasonable odds, the Vandermark 5 was victorious.
The band hated to leave, but in the best interests of our health we had to say goodbye to Poland after a farewell night in Krakow and at Alchemia. The first stop after this was Graz on the 4th of December, which was made a pleasure because of the many friends who made the trip to see and hear us. We then traveled back to Germany to play in Schorndorf on the 6th, then back to Austria to perform in Oberndorf on the 8th. Our tour concluded in Wels on the 9th, and the band played one of its strongest and most focused concerts of the trip that night. During the soundcheck we made a few final adjustments to the pieces, completing the arrangements and putting the music in place to record after our return to Chicago. Aside from the festival concerts I’ve played in Wels, this was the best and largest audience I’ve ever had the chance to play for in that city. Afterwards, everyone celebrated with the crew and audience, the night was also a post-festival party for all the people worked there in November, and I had a great time spinning tunes with Christoph Kurzmann after the quintet’s gig. Would never have guessed he’d play a cut by Johnny Griffin and Lockjaw Davis, but it just goes to show that you can always be surprised, and that on some nights, despite what you may be told, life is a circus.
Goodbye James Brown.
-Ken Vandermark, Chicago, 12/27/06
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