On the morning of Friday the 18th I walked with Christof Kurzmann to the huge castle/fortress in Belgrade near the meeting of the Danube and Sava rivers, remarkable and beautiful in the sun. Afterward I went to the airport with a driver to pick up Peter Brotzmann and Mats Gustafsson to then head to Novi Sad for the first concert on the Sonore tour. I think our last performance together took place during the Tentet tour last April, in London at Cafe Oto (which became the recent album on Trost). We played a single set in Novi Sad which went really well, open and fluid. About 15 people walk out but the rest stay showing their enthusiasm for the music. I went to bed early to try and sleep as much as possible, it would be the only real chance to sleep in the next 10 days and I hoped to make the best of getting as much rest as possible while I had the chance; of course the plan fails and I woke up early, unable to get back to sleep.
Thankfully, we had an easy travel day, about 90 minutes back to Belgrade to play at the Ring Ring Festival, but the driver got lost and “solved the problem” by pulling a U-turn on a highway bridge. I was unfortunately awake for this. In addition, he punishes us for having to sit through our concert the night before by playing the worst Jan Garbarek album I’ve ever heard, over and over until we arrive at our hotel, which appeared to be leftover from Tito’s heyday. The concierge could have played a cameo in a later Fellini film. Sonore opened a double bill with the band QUAT (Blume, Lovens,Van Hove, Vandeweyer), playing an acoustic set on the floor to a completely packed room; our reception is over the top positive, performance exceptional.
Though QUAT looks like a strong group, it was necessary to eat and Mats and I had to dj at a performance by laptop musician Svetlana Maras in the “under construction” Museum of Contemporary Art, so no chance to listen to the other group. The circumstances at the museum were pretty much a train wreck, it was unclear if the dj sets were about creating a party atmosphere and the music Mats and I wanted to play seemed at odds with Maras’ concert. From there it was an hour nap at the hotel, a cold shower in a stall the size of a gym locker with a ripped curtain that directed water all over the bathroom; then a taxi to the airport at 4:30am, a Lufthansa plane Frankfurt where we got a “Lufthansa train” to Koln (that’s a new one and completely ridiculous), to another train to Herne, Germany. After a night and day like that I didn’t expect that the show on the 20th would go well but the organizer, Ulrike Kassler, was extraordinary, really made us feel welcome and made sure that we could relax and focus on the concert. In addition, Jost Gebers of FMP was in the audience- it was an honor to play for him and the evening finished with a very late meal that included the band, Jost, and his wife, listening to Jost and Peter exchange stories. Encore from Ring Ring:
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