In part 1 of Jason’s article he covers the first part of the tour up to his two night stint at Paris’s Duc Des Lombards and here in Part 2 we pick it up at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris about to board a flight to London for his gig at Ronnie Scott’s. Enjoy Part two of Jason Miles, Observations on the Road in Europe.
If you missed Part 1 of Jason’s story you can read it here. Now it’s over to Jason.
The flight was delayed and I was getting very very nervous. It was delayed 3 hours for a 40 minute flight. It wasn’t because of the weather. It was because they had to get a handicapped person off the plane with nobody there to help. I have to admit I was very nervous as I couldn’t believe all of this was happening for a 40 minute flight. Finally, we were ready to board and I have to admit I made a very smart move. Sometimes as a leader you have to step up and take things to another level. The night before, I took out the credit card and booked a van to pick us up at Heathrow. We had to first go through customs and get our work permits to play at Ronnie’s. This was the right move as we were delayed again waiting for our permits…It was tense but we got through and the driver was waiting for us. I decided then and there that we needed them again the next morning at 5 am to take us back to the airport.
We went right to the venue and there was the sign in front of Ronnies with the band on the Marquee with everybody’s name and photo. We headed right to the dressing room. Paul Pace came in and gave us a great welcome along with Sarah. We ate dinner right away and hit the stage for a quick line check. We had an opening act and they started to play right as we walked in – wow – talk about tight. The reward was we played 2 epic sets. Everything just felt great. The sound was excellent and band was really tight and we had a great crowd as well.
Some London friends came to visit and hear the music and Jay introduced me to Mike Hobart a writer from the Financial Times of London who came to the show. A great success! We again sold CDs and the box that was sent to me from the states showed up so I have more for the rest of the tour. It’s miserable night with the weather but Gene and I walk to the hotel through 4 different weather changes..
Next morning on to Dresden in Germany to play Tonne Jazz. At the airport I stood back and really appreciated how important Reggie had been to us. Not only is he playing this music on that high level but he is really getting us through these airports and trains with the expertise that a seasoned veteran has. I would be lost without his knowledge of the scene. We headed to Dresden. I looked at my phone and there was a message from Reggie even though he is sitting right in front of me on the train. It’s a link from the Financial Times of London with a review of our show at Ronnie Scott’s and it is off the hook 4 stars and big raves. I am overtaken with emotion and talk to everybody to show my gratitude for making this possible…a great life moment.
In Dresden and we’re at a very nice hotel. We had a small but enthusiastic crowd for the show. It was a terrific place to play with the vibe of a museum and the adage holds true that you give the audience your best whether there are 10,50,500 or 5000 people. The next morning I was confronted with the breakfast of doom at the hotel. Totally amazing! I love that the hotels include breakfast. It was just killing and looking at the portions everybody had…we all knew it. We had a short train ride back to Berlin to play at The Zig Zag Club on Saturday. I took some ‘me time’ and went alone to an Indian restaurant for lunch. Sometimes it’s best to chill by yourself to collect yourself for the next phase.
The Zig Zag club was like playing in a big living room. Great vibe and Demetrious and his wife made sure everything was cool for us. They had a nice hang room upstairs for us and always listen to those in the know what to eat. Tonight it was ‘Pizza and Salad’…excellent. The audience was wonderful and like previous nights we did encores at the end. More CDs sold! I have 12 left for Vienna. Gene is now leaving us and for one night at Porgy and Bess we have Reggies drummer of choice Yoran Vroom. We met over lunch at the hotel in Vienna (incredible Turkey Burger!!) to go over the set and he was confident and ready to go. I took some time to do a tad of shopping and bought some chocolate to bring home to Kathy. The good stuff.
We head over to Porgy and Bess and I loved the club immediately – great vibe, nice people, totally professional crew and it looks like we will have another nice crowd. They have a 9 foot Fazioli piano and I now wish I had the set up to play on it for just a few moments. Yoran totally kicked ass and knew the material. How great to end the tour with a great show, a great crowd at a great venue. After the second set the audience wanted an encore and Reggie sent me on the stage alone to play solo. A rewarding albeit nervous moment that the crowd appreciated. I did a little Tribute to Chick Corea and played ‘You’re Everything’ and ended with an original called ‘Bliss’ which I recorded with Gato Barbieri.
The great saxophonist David Murray was in the house and Jay knew him so he introduced me. He seemed to enjoy the band and after selling out CDs it was time to chill at the hotel before the trip home tomorrow. Several Facebook friends whom I never met before were at the club like Dorit Winkler who took some great photos of the band and shared them with me.
Well, we’re on our way home now. Reggie back to Brussels, myself, Theo and Jay going home through Moscow as we got a good fare to get home that way. It’s the only way to make it work. Of course, drama has to ensue with the possibility of our flight from Vienna being canceled but it isn’t. Theo who is already a real travel veteran in his early thirties alerts us to the move we have to make if the flight gets canceled. I love people with experience. So we are now sitting in the Moscow airport eating a lousy meal..lots of kiosks selling Vodka. A strange ending considering how good the food was this whole trip. On the plane (Aeroflot..Not bad at all!) AirPods in my ears and 10 hours from home. I thought what a great tour this was. Stefany’s patience and persistence paid off as we played at the great clubs with great crowds and audience response. Reggie again kept us always moving in the right direction.
I think with ‘Kind of New’ I am bringing a project with a foot in the past as well as one firmly planted in the future. I learned my lessons well from Miles and other greats who have stood by and helped my musical vision . So many good folks helped make this happen from the cats at Jazz in Europe with their support to the folks at the venues and, of course, the fans. It was great traveling with musicians who are friends and also get it.
Still, there are many more places to play and I hope this was just the start of the European phase of my 45 years in this business. still have the vibe to do this and feel in these times bringing music that is not only engaging but enjoyable as well to the audience is a good path for the future of jazz. As Luther Vandross would say to me..”Never mess with the money that people spend to see you and support you. We put the love out there and get it back….. big time.
Joining Jason on his European Tour were Theo Croker – Trumpet, Jay Rodriguez – Sax, Gene Lake – Drums & Reggie Washington – Bass.
More Information on Jason Miles can be found on his website.
Editor: We thank Jason Miles for his kind words about Jazz In Europe. It’s always been our goal to support artists and all involved with this art form and at the same time provide informative and quality content to our readers. With this in mind we thank Jason for taking the time to share this with our readers.
Text: Jason Miles
Photo Credits: Dorit Winkler, Carl Hyde, Hans Joachim Maquet