Day 22: Saturday, July 25

Phil Woods has definite ideas about the curriculum he would use if he were to teach at a college.

"I would charter a bus and get all the kids and I'd have them get their printed music arrangements together and their music stands. I'd get uniforms for them. Have them get all their crap together, pack it and get on the bus, close all the blinds, and just drive around the campus for 8 hours-- don't go anywhere, no visual delights to intrigue them. Get off the bus, set up, pick out a set of tunes, tune up, put their uniforms on. That's it; they're not going to play any music. Pack up, back on the bus another eight hours, circle some more, then have a talk with them: 'All right, now, who wants to do this? Because this is what it is.' It's an exaggeration. I admit it doesn't have to be that way, but it's just an exaggerated reality, because they're not getting any reality in school."

Phil Woods quoted in the 1993 book The Jazz Exiles: American Musicians Abroad, by Bill Moody, pages 111-112

The bus left at 6 a.m. sharp for a three-hour drive to the dreaded Rome Airport. The George Coleman Quartet was also on the bus and they had taken over the BOTB. These gentlemen were quite talkative and loud. No problem for me since I suffer from the curse of not sleeping well on moving vehicles, so the four of them, myself, and fortunately the bus driver were the only folks awake on the bus. We arrived at the Rome Airport with time to spare so that we could spend some additional time in hell on earth. It was the first weekend day of the vacation season when most of Italy goes someplace for August and this place was a disaster! A bazillion people were rushing around and the people at our airline of force-upon, Iberia, seemed to know nothing. The PWBB didn't fool around when checking baggage and we had it scientifically lined up immediately where it stayed for one hour and fifteen minutes. We too didn't move for the same amount of time until some fool from Iberia started moving our luggage away from the check-in station for some intended purpose that was not in anyone's best interest. We were not happy about this, which means the BOTB crew was reveling in the darkness of these events (even though we weren't in a bus, the attitude was transportable). Once this cretin was stopped, we waited a while longer (hang rating: -5.17) and finally walked to the departure gate to find that (you guessed it) the flight was delayed! We eventually boarded the plane and finally . . . arrivederci, Roma, and on our way back to Madrid, but wait! It gets better! Of all the airlines we flew on the tour, we finally found one where most of the flight attendants didn't speak English! Not that the rest of the world should speak English just for us, but couldn't they get one person who could learn to say, "Sir, you can't put that friggin' instrument in the overhead!" in English instead of grabbing it from us. Approaching Madrid later than scheduled, they read off the wrong departure gate for our connecting flight. The band rushed to the connecting flight gate to find that the flight was . . . you guessed it! This flight was delayed! A few minutes later Chick Corea and his latest acoustic ensemble Origin arrived to make the same flight to Bilbao, Spain.

Arriving in Bilbao, the band boarded a small bus for the one-hour ride to San Sebastian, Spain, a city of 180,000 in the Basque region of northern coastal Spain. We arrived at our hotel and got up to our rooms at 8 p.m.--14 hours from hotel to hotel. Not bad! Fortunately, the temperature and humidity we experienced in Spain four days earlier had dropped significantly. The midnight performance was at the 33rd Donostiako Jazzaldia Festival on the harbor. An island, a hillside, hotels, and casinos were brilliantly illuminated around the water and the reflections on the water were an astounding backdrop at the performance site. The hillside contains a large white cross, not unlike Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This was a six-day event with more than 20 government and corporate sponsors. Over 3,000 people attended the midnight concert.

During this performance, George Robert was testifying on I Remember Bird, and in the middle of George's improvisation, Phil encouraged him to take us higher with a verbally enthusiastic appeal to George's degree of cleanliness, Swiss nationalistic pride, and his mom. This was one of the most appreciative audiences of the tour, and no matter how tired the band might have been, these people earned an encore (even the BOTB agreed). Jordi was leaving us tonight and asked everyone to go with him to toast the end of a successful tour. Once again, Jordi paid the bill, showing his classy and sincere appreciation, and the band returned to the hotel after 2 a.m.

 

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