The bus departed at 10 a.m. and the printed itinerary indicated a three-hour ride to Bayonne, France. Would we manage to turn that into six hours? No, the trip took three hours as planned. Through the sound system on the bus Steve Gilmore and Bill Charlap finally treated us to the recording of the singer "Bow Tie." An indescribable experience other than that I think traditional holiday selections were the original intent. During the listening session a remarkable occurrence: finally, after over two weeks, the BOTB was stone silent! No comments, no observations, no nothing. This is how remarkable (and drastic) this recording is. "Bow Tie" must be experienced to even attempt an explanation.
We arrived at the hotel in Bayonne and were elated to see Bill Dobbins (Evan's father), the accomplished piano performer/composer/transcriber formerly of the Eastman School of Music and now director of the amazing WDR Big Band in Germany. He had just finished performances in Spain and drove up to hear the PWBB at the ninth Jazz-aux-Remparts, a six-day event with 24 sponsors held in three venues around town. We performed in a huge tent near the seventeenth-century fortification (rempart = rampart). The concert was going very well, and halfway through, as the band prepared to perform Goodbye Mr. Evans, Phil's 1980 stunning memorial to the great pianist Bill Evans, Phil spoke French to the audience, discussing the passing a few days ago of important French tenor saxophonist Guy Lafitte. Phil dedicated this performance to Guy's memory and renamed the piece Au Revoir Monsieur Lafitte for this performance. Phil proceeded to play the heck out of this miniature symphony. This is one more example of where Phil has dedicated this haunting melody to an important person's memory as he did at COTA in 1996 with Goodbye Mr. Lehr in tribute to Bob Lehr, owner of the Deer Head Inn for 40 years. Six hundred people paid $27 to hear the band and a French jazz group.