our jazz tour of China—it was very interesting. In Beijing it was
so hot I almost melted away and on the Yangtze it was constantly raining.
We were on board of one of the last boats that could pass along there.
Did you know that the Yangtze river is the worlds biggest floating
dump yard? Ii is unbelievable how much dirt and waste is floating
there. Of course you only see the swimming part of it, styropore,
shoes and once in a while a dead pig! First of all it took much longer
(bureaucratic) preparations than our first tour, two years ago and
it was not sure if we’d go or not until just a few weeks before. So
Bruno had to say yes or no to a lot of gigs he had and I couldn’t
keep him on a waiting line until I knew for sure what will happen.
he took this gig - he is working a lot now with this French girl singer
Anne Ducroux who won already the 2nd time the French Grammy and is
very good in business now - and Bruno is her steady drummer, apart
the fact that he is still the main drummer of Toots (Thielemans),
who isn’t doing that much anymore, but whenever he has some gigs,
they are very very well paid of course.
instead of looking for another drummer I decided to go on the Vietnam
tour with the trio, just Uli and Erwin and it turned out as a perfect
decision. We had played already before some gigs in trio, so it was
nothing unusual. Since we played most of the gigs in Asia in real
concert halls, people were really listening and it was a pleasure
to play in a more intimate way than how you would play with a drummer
being in the band. Even in the two club gigs it was very nice, because
we only played two sets and people again were quiet and were listening.
I wouldn’t like to play gigs like in the old Domicile (in Munich)
without a drummer, where people are loud and drinking and not really
listening. I decided that for the future as well, I’ll make it dependent
on the type of a location if I play there in trio or with a quartet!
Also our program was accepted very well, we played a mixture of standards,
jazz standards and a couple of my compositions. On this trip I only
took my tenor and the flute. Unfortunately I had really big problems
with my reeds; it must be from those air–conditioned rooms, or more
probably the change from the warm outside into the cold rooms inside!
The reeds bent and messed up while I was playing!! Can you believe
this?! I have a special ligature for those cases, but it is so clumsy,
so - naturally - I didn’t have it with me (Murphy´s Law).
arrived after a long long flight in Hanoi and fortunately had
a day off to recover - spicy hot Asian noodle soup is the best - and
the other day we gave a workshop-concert in the Conservatory there,
pupils and teachers were very interested and liked it. It was this
Vietnamese saxophone player Minh who runs the jazz club in Hanoi and
is a very sweet
guy who is really trying to bring jazz to the people over there. He
helped us by translating in the workshop and had organized all of
that. The next day we had a concert in the so–called Youth Theatre.
It was an elderly concert hall but with good acoustics, maybe 500
to 600 people. Luckily the sound man has learned something since the
last time we were in Hanoi, he didn’t fiddle around anymore on the
board while we were playing like he did the last time (or maybe it
was another guy?). Anyway we didn’t need much of an amplification,
just a little for my announcements and the flute. This was one of
the series of concerts they were organizing in Hanoi and Ho Tchi Minh
City (the former Saigon) as the 2nd Vietnamese Euro Jazz Festival.
they had one last year as well. This festival goes over a couple weeks
with just one concert a week in Hanoi and HTMC, with bands brought
to Vietnam from the embassies of the different European countries.
Naturally they have no money for that. After this concert we were
invited by the Austrian embassy to a very good meal and wine ...
day we flew to HTMC for our concert there. This concert hall was very
beautiful, sold out with television coverage and all that jazz....
A big success as well. HTMC is much more advanced than Hanoi: you
can see the western influence in the shops, everywhere. Of course
we went berserk, shopping for silk shirts, dresses.....
we went to Bangkok, stayed in the hotel where, in the former Hotel
Bar, the manager (a Jazz lover from Switzerland - when he talked he
sounded like Charlie Antolini, fortunately he didn’t play drums) had
installed a jazz club with nightly live musica Russian trumpet
player (not bad!) with a local rhythm section. Their night off is
on Monday, which is reserved for special attractions, and this Monday
it was us.
other day we had a workshop in the College of Music, which is located
a little out of town, but a brand new building and with an American
guitarist leading the jazz department. He sat in with the last tunes
of the workshop. There were also two Austrian musicians working there
as music teachers in a kind of an exchange program, I knew both of
them already from Austria, and one of them, Günter Innerlohinger,
a trombone player who also subbed in my big band in Salzburg a year
ago, fixed this workshop for us. He is a pretty clever guy, organizing
a lot of things. He brought Derek Watkins to Austria for a workshop
and two concerts with the local big band in Ebensee and Gmunden. That’s
near where I live and in fact that’s where I saw Derek again after
a lot of years.
Thailand the social system of course is completely different from
ours, you have a lot of poor people and also a lot of rich people.
But when they are rich over there, they are rich. Naturally
all the pupils on that music college come from wealthy families, they
drive to school in their own BMWs, or have a chauffeur taking them
there! But still I met some pretty talented students and they all
seemed to be very ambitioned! Naturally there is not such a scene
for jazz there, basically just in the schools, but actually over here
in Europe there wouldn't be much of a scene left either if it wasn’t
for the schools. Then we were supposed to go to Ko Samui, this pretty
island, but there would have been no way of getting the bass back
again. We could have taken it to the island all right, because on
that particular day a bigger plane was scheduled, but not back again
days later it was not possible, but we had to go on to the Philippines!
For this trip Uli had borrowed a flight case for the bass in Vienna
but there were no planes going back from that island big enough to
take it. We told them we were playing for the King's birthday, and
they had an extra conference with Bangkok Airways to make it possible,
but it still didn’t work out.
Bumipol is really of some importance for the Thai people, they really
love him. Well, I said, it couldn’t be that bad in a country
where they have a saxophone player as king! He is also a painter—they
have an exhibition of his pictures there too. Having a dedication
to arts seems to be obligatory for a king over there! Not bad, they
should have that here in Europe - not only for royals, it wouldn’t
hurt bourgeois politicians as well. So we left the bass in storage
in Bangkok and played that birthday reception just as a duo, Erwin
and me, and it was very nice, too. After that we were invited to the
special birthday buffet. Thai food is already known as the finest
in Asia, but what we had there beats everything. Incredibly good!
The hotel was also absolutely incredible. We had bungalows on the
hills around a beach of about 250 square meters, the terrace was almost
a 100 metres long, with beds outside under a mosquito net, and also
a bathtub. So you could lie in the bathtub and have a look at the
course even before in Bangkok we'd been on a shopping spree, having
suits and shirts tailormade.
Manila. One concert in "Monks Dream", the local jazz club,
very nice people. When we came to Manila, we had two days off, so
we went that evening to the club; there was a band with a very good
girl singer playing, all local musicians. The next day we were on
there and were asked to have a session with the local musicians. It
was quite nice, with the singer being the best of all. We finished
the tour playing for the Christmas party of the Philippine-Austrian
Cultural Society. This was a rather strange gig, a big dinner for
all ambassadors and other important people. They were listening, and
applauded, but were possibly bored by it all. Then, on the way back,
we had a stop in Bangkok for a day, stayed at the same hotel as before,
made a city sightseeing tour, collected our tailormade suits and got
the plane back to Europe.
is a rather boring city, completely Americanised: they even don’t
have a language of their own. They speak a mixture of what they think
is English with a lot of words from their (or maybe just from this
particular island) original language. It has a name, but I forget
what it is. The landscape outside Manila is fantastic. We had a driver
with a bus for all the time we stayed and he took us around and made
an excursion to a famous volcano. The crater is filled with water,
so it forms a lake a couple of dozen kilometres in diameter. In the
middle of this lake is an island, which is the actual crater again
filled this time with hot water. So it is a lake within a lake. Fantastic!
back from Asia I was only one day at home, then I had to leave for
Frankfurt to meet Peter Herbolzheimer for a tour of six concerts.
I had big problems with my jetlag, but it turned out to be very nice.
regards our forthcoming trip to Australia—last year a woman from the
Australian branch of Katrin’s organisation came on an European sightseeing
tour and she came to visit us in Strobl. She brought a girl friend
with her who runs a Jazz radio station in Australia and is part of
the organisation of the Wagga Wagga Jazz Festival.
the time we never planned on going to Australia, but of course I gave
her all my CDs and information on my group. We stayed in contact via
email. She said she loved my music and played my CDs on the radio.
of a sudden she wanted me to come to Wagga Wagga and play there with
the local musicians. This came about through a percussion player from
Melbourne, Carlos Ferreira, who has a kind of a salsa band. He wants
me to play with him, and has already fixed two gigs for us in Melbourne.
I’m also in contact with Don Rader, who lives in Sydney. Don tried
to fix some gigs and/or a workshop for us to play, but somehow it
didn’t work out, because it is summer holiday time now over there.
Doesn’t really matter, at least we can see each other again, have
a couple beers together and have some fun. Peter (Herbolzheimer) gave
me the telephone number of Bob Coassin and I tried to call him, but
the number probably wasn’t right. Peter said that Bob has a big band
in Sydney and maybe I could do something there. Dusko (Goykovic) also
asked me to contact Bob. He had sent him a couple of arrangements
and has never heard from him since. I’ll see what’s happening when
we get there.
the way back we’ll stop for a couple days in Singapore, to stay with
Frank Wong, the Chinese Jazz fan and amateur drummer where we stayed
the last time when we played in Singapore. He is already very enthusiastic
about us coming again. I’m sure he will take us around to some of
the jazz clubs we didn’t see the last time. And to those fantastic
beachside Chinese seafood restaurants!