Day 24: Monday, July 27

Headin' home!!!
We left the hotel at 9:30 a.m. to get an 11:10 a.m. flight to Barcelona. At the Ibiza Airport, we bid a tearful adieu to our final bus and boarded an Iberia (uh-oh!) plane. Jesse Heckman left us in Barcelona to head to his apartment in Oslo and we boarded a Swissair (relief!) flight to Zurich where we said goodbye to George Robert. During the four-hour layover in Zurich, the aches, chills, and sweats of some bug hit me and I was down for the count. The nine-hour flight to Newark was pretty tough for me, especially since the movie was a Leonardo DiCaprio double feature. As we flew over the North Atlantic where the 1912 disaster occurred, Titanic was well on its way down and Jeff said, "Here we are flying over that same area. I hate irony." All I could think of was that my flu-ridden body would appreciate a dip in the cool North Atlantic about now.

Arriving at Newark was frustrating because another flight arrived simultaneously at 10:30 p.m. and passport control only had six people on duty for 400-plus arrivees (welcome back to the USA?). It took 45 minutes to get to the outside air of Newark. Jill Goodwin was on the case, meeting us with the van, and she was the epitome of efficient loading and driving. I was home by 1 a.m. Again, not bad--21½ hours to get home. Tom Hamilton and Jim Buckley added another hour or so to get to Scranton, PA, and Jeff, Kevin, and Lew stayed overnight at Newark to catch a morning flight to their homes.

A few weeks later the band performed six nights at the famed Blue Note jazz club in New York City in August where we reclaimed Rick Chamberlain, Jan Betz, George Young, and Ed Neumeister. One evening featured a live broadcast via the Internet, and as jazz writer Ira Gitler was once again in attendance he wrote a summer summary of the PWBB on the Internet for Jazz Central Station. For the week, over 2,000 people heard the band along with the Jacky Terrasson Trio as they paid a $30 cover charge plus a $5 drink minimum plus parking and other expenses/risks. Lead alto saxophonist George Young has been a studio icon in New York for decades, and as many of us were jammed into the tiny band dressing room upstairs, he asked us how the tour went. As Lew Del Gatto gave George an extensive blow-by-blow account, George was aghast and kept responding to the descriptions of the travel by saying "how unhealthy" and "You're all still alive?" Lew then asked the 12 of us who were standing around listening, "And how many of you had a good time?" Twelve hands went up.

And, of course, the band performed for our neighbors and long-distance visitors at the 21st Annual Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts jazz & arts festival in September 1998 . . . in the same lovely little village and on the same stage where it all began for Phil Woods and the COTA Festival Orchestra!

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