7 March 2012

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Busy days on tour and off- Free Fall performs in Rijkevorsel, Belgium at a great club called De Singer (March 3rd), and in Vic, Spain (March 4th) in a great club called the Jazz Cava; 2 sets in Belgium, 1 in Spain, both concerts really strong and with great responses from the audience. The directors and staff of both venues were absolutely great, very welcoming and enthused, making the band feel right at home. When touring is like this you realize what a privilege it is to be a musician. On the 5th the trio flew to Berlin to stay for a few days, working on new material and enjoying some extra free freedom. Got visit one of my favorite bars, Konrad Tonz, with friends on the night we arrived, and the good times continued over the next couple of days. Still managed to get a couple of solid rehearsals in with Free Fall at Haavard Wiik’s place, worked on a two brand new pieces (Stendahl Syndromes [Wiik]; Asymmetric Face [Vandermark]), and reviewed the most recent additions (Sysophean Labor [Wiik]; 88, and Sleep [Vandermark]). Saw the Arnold Newman exhibition at C / O Berlin, which was truly great; and watched 2 classic Bunuel films, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” and “Belle de Jour;” can’t believe it took me 47 years to see them… Perhaps the most significant news during the two days in Berlin was the fact I sorted out a major gaff regarding my trip to Brazil at the end of the month. As I sat on the plane taking off from Chicago on February 24th, I realized that I had failed to get my visa to travel to Brazil on March 21st. This visa is mandatory for U.S. citizens visiting that country, in response to the U.S. government demanding the same thing from Brazilian citizens. So, after arriving in Europe, I started working on how I’d get the visa while overseas. The best option was to apply in Berlin because I’d have 3 days to get the paperwork completed, and according to the website for the Brazilian embassy in that city, the visa could be processed in this amount of time. No dice- I submitted the paperwork, but they wouldn’t accept my bank card or cash to pay for the service, and their own bank was closed that day for some reason. It was suggested that I get a temporary passport from the U.S. embassy and leave my actual passport with the Brazilians, then flying back to Berlin to pick it up after my tour with the Resonance Ensemble. It turned out that you can only visit the U.S. embassy in Berlin with an appointment, and they were booked until the following week. Option 2 was getting the visa in Amsterdam in the days before leaving for Brazil, but I then found out that the embassy for Brazil is in Rotterdam. I thought of postponing my departure to the 23rd, which would give me 5 full business days to process the visa in Rotterdam, but when I called the embassy they told me that if I applied on Monday it would take until the following Monday for the paperwork to be done. Dead ends everywhere. I skyped Christof Kurzmann, who had coordinated the music in Brazil, to suggest a) pushing the concerts back several days so I could leave Europe on the 27th; b) have the organizers in Brazil contact Rotterdam to see if they could accelerate the processing; c) find another musician to fill in. Christof called the primary organizer, then phoned me back, “Look at your passport and the visa from your first trip to Brazil.” I did- it was valid for more than a decade! Good thing I didn’t get another one… Free Fall performs my piece, “Two Ninety One,”