The tour with Pandelis ended in Linz, at the Bruckner Haus, probably the reason the whole trip was conceived in the first place. Pandelis was offered the concert more than a year ago and were paid about three times what we received on the other dates (it’s necessary to keep in mind that this was a major institution/concert hall and the other places were regular club dates). That fee helped to cover the majority of the transportation costs (planes and trains). Part of the bonus on this show was that we were playing a double bill with Haavard Wiik and Hakon Kornstad. For some reason the concert was called, “The Monk In Us,” which no one bothered to tell us about ahead of time. Thankfully Pandelis and I had been playing a few Monk tunes on the tour so we had something to offer that was prepared, but anyone that was expecting an all Thelonious Monk program would have been severely disappointed. Before the concert the four of us met for dinner at a museum café nearby. Haavard and Hakon had faced a long day of travel, and were looking at an early morning to boot, but were in good spirits. It was great to see them to sit at a table with two of my favorite piano players. While we were eating Haavard told us an incredible story about an incident in Nepal:
=Did I tell you about how I knocked over a dwarf in Katmandu?
=Well, I was in Nepal playing a gig…
“This isn’t one of those dumb music jokes, is it?”
=No, it really happened.
“What were you doing in Nepal?”
=The band had been sent there by the Norwegian government as part of their outreach program to teach underprivileged kids about music.
“I’ve heard that the U.S. is working on a similar program…” said Pandelis.
=And as part of the visit the group played at an outdoor festival. Well, the entire time we were onstage their was this dwarf who stood right next to the left side of the piano keys and kept talking to me in Nepalese.
“That must have been helpful.”
=Yeah, I kept saying, “I don’t understand, sorry!” and things like that while I was playing, and no one came to get him offstage. I was going a bit nuts trying to concentrate. Well, we finished the concert and the audience wanted an encore and when we came out to play he was there again, but this time really close to the piano, basically right next to me and yelling stuff I couldn’t possibly understand into my left ear.
=So my solo came up and I kind of lost it a bit, he was crowding me so much that when I did a sudden left hand run my arm sort of slammed into him harder than I meant to..
“Haavard, you’re kidding!”
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