Days 1 and 2: Saturday, July 4, and Sunday, July 5

Jim Daniels and I were on a reconnaissance mission. We were to travel from Stroudsburg, PA, to Vienne, France, one day before the other sixteen musicians to set up the music stands, microphones, etc., for the first performance of the 1998 European tour of the Phil Woods Big Band (PWBB). We left Newark Airport around midnight, getting us to Zurich, Switzerland, at 1:35 p.m. This was fine because it was already midafternoon in Europe and our jet-lagged bodies were that much closer to the evening sleep. We had a three-hour layover, so I took my trumpet mouthpiece and credit-card-sized pitch tuner to a deserted part of the departure area to practice softly. Bad move. After about 20 minutes a uniformed airport employee approached and commenced shrieking. I assumed that I appeared to be doing something wrong as this person reminded me of the Charlie Brown TV specials where Snoopy's tiny bird friend Woodstock is complaining a mile a minute in a language that only Peanuts' characters can understand. I pointed to my mouthpiece and said "musique!" to no avail. I then pointed to my tuner and said "nonincendiarie!" as the employee proceeded to get a colleague/supervisor who then made a vain attempt at caring. I rejoined Jim sheepishly in the crowded waiting area.

The connecting flight to Lyon, France, was on a Swissair subsidiary crossair (remember that name!) and featured continuous champagne and sandwiches as we passed over Berne, Geneva, and the beautiful snow-covered Swiss Alps. I think we eventually landed, and as Jim and I retrieved our luggage we suddenly realized that we had no idea as to how we would get to our hotel. While standing on a long line waiting to be searched, I spotted a person near the front of the line holding up a paper. We thought: Could it be? Yesssss!!! The paper had our names on it. Christoph flashed a mysterious orange card, taking us entirely around the Customs cavity search. He quickly loaded us into a new Peugeot (a corporate sponsor of the first gig) and kept flashing that magic orange card so that guards would raise gates. Out on the highway he tailgated anything he could at 100 kph as Jim regretted taking the front seat. The next day, another driver informed us that Christoph's nickname was "Trouble." That evening, Jim and I walked a couple of miles up the Rhône River and at 21:00 met saxophonist Jesse Heckman in the hotel lobby upon his arrival from Oslo.

 
 

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