13 July 2012

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A few days off during a gap in the Getachew Mekuria concerts began with the long drive back to Amsterdam from Paris on the 11th of July (listening to music on the way, I realized the apparent impact of Paul Gonsalves on Ab Baars’ playing during a recording of “Mt. Harisa” from Duke Ellington’s, Fair East Suite; Ab’s amalgamation of Von Freeman, Frank Wright, and Gonsalves- combined with his own expressive imagination- has resulted in one of the most original voices in contemporary Jazz).

The group celebrated the success of the first half of the tour with an incredible Ethiopian meal at Kliene Africa in Amsterdam, with the new Getachew/Ex/Friends album blasting over the stereo as all of us hung out after the restaurant closed. On the 12th I spent time catching up on work at the “Villa” of Terrie Hessels, getting clothes washed, etc. In the evening we spent time listening to old Getachew Xenical recordings; his commentary was fascinating (“Music is open and closed,” meaning that parts of the songs/arrangements are specific and inflexible, others (such as solos) are completely free and improvised from performance to performance, resulting in a music that combines expertise and improvisation to spectacular effect. Much of the night we listened to Getaches’s work with the “Police Band” from Addis, stunning music that, for some strange reason, has not been reissued. On the final day of the break I went to Amsterdam to visit, “Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition,” at the Eye Film Museum with Arnold de Boer and Jeroen Visser; quite an amazing show, fascinating to see Kubrick’s organizational methods, and the collection of photos, letters, etc. A small highlight was the discovery that Peter Seller’s voice for Dr. Strangelove was based on Weegee’s, who had been on the soundstage of the “War Room” taking publicity pre-production shots for the film.

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