2012: My Ridiculous Year In Review

I hesitate to write this, but 2012 may have been the most tumultuous year of my life. (Dear 2013, please don’t feel you have to break any records.)

Toward the end of 2011 I met someone who in 2012 turned out to be one of the great loves of my life. By the end of the year, she was gone, we were finished, I was in Alabama and my show was over. I also spent half the year without a home of my own, and several months of it traveling more than 13,000 miles on Greyhound buses.

From Bushwick and more – Dec 2012

JANUARY

New Year’s Day 2012 included an interview for my former show, The Jazz Session, and a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in my former city with my former girlfriend and our former roommates. (Sensing a trend? So am I.) I did a lot of interviews in 2012, including with some major names in the jazz world. January was a good month for drummers – I spoke with Jack DeJohnette, Matt Wilson, Barry Altschul, Aaron Staebell and Deric Dickens. I also gave a talk at the annual JazzTimes conference. My topic was musicians telling their stories. You can hear the entire thing here (and see part of it, too).

From Trip to PA: Feb 4-5, 2012

FEBRUARY

Early in the month, I went to State College to visit my sons. For various reasons, my visits to PA were usually quite short. This one was just overnight. Back in NYC, I interviewed Charles Mingus’s widow, Sue, and saw great shows by Pete Robbins, James Shipp, the Mingus Big Band, Tim Berne’s Snake Oil, Peter Eldridge & Matt Aronoff, Enrico Rava, Ken Filiano, Vernon Reid, Myra Melford, Jeremy Siskind and The Wee Trio. (In one month!) I also went to a Vegan Shop-Up at the wonderful Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn. I met DJ Soul Sister and Jeff Albert for the first time in person, and interviewed jazz giant Jimmy Heath at his Queens apartment.

From Warm nights, warm days in Brooklyn

MARCH

The month started in fine style with a show by Matt Wilson’s band at Dizzy’s. I’ve never been a huge fan of that club, but I do love me some Matt Wilson, and his show was hugely entertaining and musical. A few days later I traveled to Jersey to interview Billy Hart. I also saw a show by one of my favorite singers, Trixie Whitley. I went to State College again, this time for my son John’s sixth birthday. My sister, Gretchen, went with me. Carmen Staaf and I got together for the first of a few sessions of my poetry and her piano playing, although we never ended up doing a gig. I also hung out one-on-one for the first time with my friend Sally, who would go on to become an indispensable part of my life. On the 18th, a gang of us got together at the apartment my girlfriend and I shared to read Walt Whitman’s “Song Of Myself” (the 1855 version). It was a moving experience, as it always is. I went to Albany for one day to visit my doctor. My partner and I went to see Nellie McKay perform a show about Rachel Carson at some ultra-swanky place where we clearly didn’t belong. The show was worth it, though. We also went to another vegan shop-up. Oh, and I took my sister’s cat to the vet. Although this trip was no big deal, Chloe would go back to the vet later and be given a few months to live. But by the end of 2012, it turned out she was fine. I still don’t understand what happened.

From Trip to PA: April 26-28, 2012

APRIL

I went to a CD release party for Theo Bleckmann’s album of Kate Bush songs. It was so good – a real show, not just a performance of the songs. I took an extended walk around Washington Heights, one of my favorite parts of Manhattan, and talked with a friend about my role as a father. I saw Natalie Cressman play at The Jazz Gallery, months before she would become the final interview I conducted for my show. For the first time ever, I showed up at an interview without my recorder (the aforementioned Theo Bleckmann), so I had to go back home. I took the self-guided East Village Poetry Walk, which I can’t recommend highly enough. You can download the guided tour here. I saw my pal Josh Rutner play gospel music at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan. It’s the “jazz church.” I interviewed Dave Brubeck’s son Chris in the Teddy Roosevelt Room at the Museum of Natural History. I went to a tribute to the poet Philip Larkin. Paul Simon was one of the readers, making it the only Paul Simon performance I’ve ever attended. I went back to State College to see my older son, Bernie, play saxophone in his first school concert. On the last day of the month, I interviewed one of the smartest people around, guitarist Vernon Reid (of Living Colour, etc.). Other shows I saw in April: Romain Collin, Jo Lawry and Kate McGarry.

From Daryl Shawn & Todd Reynolds at The Firehouse Space, May 2012

MAY

In May I met and interviewed vocalist Maria Neckam, whose album Unison was one of my favorite records of the year. I saw my pal Jill Knapp in New York, who would become my first host in June at the start of my tour. I interviewed my good friend Nicky Schrire, whose Freedom Flight was another of my faves. I also heard her perform at Rockwood Music Hall. At the beginning of the month, my girlfriend and I learned that we would have to move out of our apartment. She moved in with her parents, but I had nowhere to go and no money. So I decided to go on tour instead, taking The Jazz Session and my poetry around the country. At the end of the month, my friends Andrea Wolper and Ken Filiano hosted a farewell dinner for me. I did a ton of interviews in May, and also saw shows by Gregoire Maret (whose final song with Raul Midon was one of the live highlights of the year for me), Daryl Shawn and Foolish Hearts.


Me, somewhere.

JUNE

On June 1, my girlfriend accompanied me to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, where I boarded a Greyhound for Wilmington, DE. I stayed with Jill for a few days and had a great time with her and her partner, Matt. I also interviewed the guitarist Judith Kay. Then I went to State College to spend a couple days with the boys before heading south. I ended up doing an interview there, too, because Barry Kernfeld, the editor of the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, lives in town. On the 5th I went to Shepherdstown, WV, where I gave a poetry reading and interviewed Jeff Cosgrove. On the 7th I went to Washington, DC. I attended a tribute to the poet Gwendolyn Brooks at the Library of Congress and met poet Sandra Beasley, whom I subsequently interviewed at a nearby coffee shop. I was also briefly naked in the Library of Congress because I was very overdressed and stripped down in the men’s room so I could put on cooler clothing. Certainly a career highlight for me. While in DC I did a freelance interview for an education company, and jazz interviews with several musicians. I saw a show by saxophonist Brian Settles. On the 10th I went to Richmond, VA, where I stayed with drummer Scott Clark and then with guitarist Scott Burton. I interviewed both of them, too, as well as educator Doug Richards. I read poetry at Chop Suey Books and saw a show by Janel & Anthony, who were kind enough to come to my reading. On the 14th I traveled to Charlottesville, WV, where I met my Twitter pal John Mason and heard John D’earth play at the club that launched Dave Matthews’ career. I was interviewed on WTJU and I did two interviews for my show, too. On the 16th I took a long bus ride to Nashville. I did a poetry reading there the following day and conducted several interviews, including with Jeff Coffin, saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band. I spent most of my time with Jeff and fellow saxophonist Evan Cobb, who has a great dog. I heard the Nashville Jazz Orchestra perform and saw fantastic shows by The Time Jumpers and the comedy/country team Doyle And Debbie. I did another radio interview, too. On the 20th, I went to Knoxville, TN, where I interviewed pianist Donald Brown. I also took a canoe trip on the Little River and did a poetry reading. On the 23rd I took an insane bus trip from Knoxville to NYC to see my girlfriend. Then on the 26th it was back down south, this time to Raleigh to meet Twitter pal David Menestres. From there it was on to Atlanta, where I interviewed jazz organist Matthew Kaminski at his day job – as the organist for the Atlanta Braves. On the 29th I traveled to Auburn, AL, at the suggestion of Twitter pal Patrick McCurry. I did a poetry reading at The Gnu’s Room bookstore on the 29th and was interviewed there for public radio on the 30th. Little did I know the role Auburn would play in my future.


A second line in New Orleans.

JULY

On July 2 I realized a lifelong dream when I traveled to New Orleans. I went to Jeff Albert’s Open Ears Music Series and also went to several second lines to commemorate the death of Uncle Lionel Batiste. I spent a week in New Orleans before heading back north to New York to see my girlfriend, then to State College to spend time with my sons. I stayed in State College from July 18 through the 25th, when my debit card was hacked and I had to travel to NYC to get a new one. I returned to State College the next day and stayed till August 3.


This happened in August.

AUGUST

I spent the weekend of August 3 in beautiful Tarrytown, NY, with my girlfriend. Then it was back to State College until the 7th, when one of my relatives by marriage, um, caused my plans to change. In somewhat of a scramble, I went back to New York, where my sister and my friends Daryl and Deborah were kind enough to give me places to stay. While I was back in NYC, I saw shows by Keith Ganz, Aaron Parks, Josh Rutner & Twelve Gates, Fay Victor and Jersey Band. I also did a solo two-day meditation retreat. At the end of the month I flew to Detroit as a guest of the Detroit Jazz Festival.


With my friend Mike and his son Jack in Mississippi.

SEPTEMBER

I spent Labor Day weekend in Detroit at the Jazz Festival. I MC’d a few shows, including one by the wonderful David Binney. I interviewed Geoffrey Keezer and Donny McCaslin, and did my third interview (the first one face-to-face) with Sonny Rollins. After the interview, Sonny and I and our mutual friend Terri spent an hour or so talking about life. It was beautiful and humbling. On September 4, I took a bus to Windsor, Ontario and then a Greyhound to Ottawa to stay with my pals Renee Yoxon and Craig Pedersen. While in Ottawa I did a Skype interview with the Upaya Zen Center, where I planned to go stay after my tour. I also interviewed bassist John Geggie and journalist/pianist Peter Hum. And I locked myself out of the house briefly. On the 9th I took a train to Montreal, where I met and interviewed Twitter pal (and pianist) David Ryshpan and stayed with David’s friend Sarah MK. The next day was my 39th birthday, so I treated myself to a little boat trip. Sarah and her friend gave me a little cake and sang to me, which was lovely. I also saw music by the Kalmunity Collective. On 9/11 I went back to NYC, where Jonathan Matz, a listener to my show, kindly offered me a place to stay. I had a small birthday dinner with friends. I met the guitarist Joshua Maxey for pizza. I saw shows by the DIVA Jazz Orchestra (with the wonderful Nadje Noordhuis), The Respect Sextet and Anat Cohen. And I did the final interviews for my show. On September 21 I got back on a Greyhound bus and went to Jackson, MS, to spend a week with my friend Mike Roberts and his family. Mike and I were union organizers together, and he’s one of the most important people in my life. While I was there I was accepted to the Upaya Zen Center and made plans to go there in October. On the 28th I went back to Auburn to stay for a couple weeks.


The Gnu’s Room in Auburn, AL.

OCTOBER

In early October, Tina Tatum offered me a non-paying job as the assistant director of The Gnu’s Room. I accepted, canceled my trip to Upaya, and decided to live in Auburn. I went to State College for a few days to spend time with the boys, then headed back to Alabama. I did a poetry reading at The Gnu’s Room on the 12th and attended the store’s fall music festival the next day. On October 19, I posted the final episode of The Jazz Session. I saw quite a lot of music and heard several authors read. Late in the month, my girlfriend and I had our come-to-Jesus conversation about the end of our relationship. At the end of that same week…

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With my pal Marie, who plays in a band called HeY!ALLigator.

NOVEMBER

…I missed Bernie’s 10th birthday, the first of my sons’ birthdays I’d ever missed. Between that and the break-up, I was thinking I’d made a horrible mistake. By Monday, though, I decided I needed to stick it out in Auburn for a while and take a shot at rebuilding my life. So I made a one-year commitment to myself to stay. I went hiking at Chewacla State Park and at Lake Martin. I went to a Diwali celebration at the university. I saw lots of music at The Gnu’s Room and heard Katie Martin perform several times. I went to Thanksgiving at the home of Tina & Kelley (owners of The Gnu’s Room) and made another Thanksgiving dinner with a friend. And I did the first interview for a new podcast series based at The Gnu’s Room. And at the end of the month I had my heart broken in what turned out to be the real end of the love story.

From Christmas In PA (2012)

DECEMBER

In December I was hired by the College of Human Sciences at the University of Auburn to do web work and create content for the college’s various sites. My first full-time job in two years. I also signed the lease on my first solo apartment in two years. Thanks to some help from a very generous friend, I was able to fly to State College to spend Christmas with my sons. I met several new friends, too. As the year ended, I worked at The Gnu’s Room while the university was closed. I moved into my new place on December 27. And on New Year’s Eve I was on my weird built-in couch relaxing with a cup of tea.

So there you have it. Twelve months of change, travel, love, loss, music and discovery. Who knows what 2013 will bring?

Tour Diary: L’histoire de Mon Anniversaire

(September 11, 2012) ON A TRAIN FROM MONTREAL TO NYC — I spent my birthday in Montreal. The first birthday in 39 years that I spent without my close friends or family. But you know what? It turned out OK, thanks to a beautiful city and two very generous people.

I awoke fairly early and found a cash machine so I could figure out whether I had any money or not. I did have a bit, as it turned out, which was a nice surprise. I spent some time in a cafe to catch up on email messages and site updates. Then I went to the historic part of Montreal, which used to be the heart of the city and is now primarily a tourist destination.

I strolled around for a while admiring the buildings and the old cobbled streets. This was the first place I’d been in the city where as many people were speaking English as French. Judging by their accents, they were mostly American tourists from the Northeast and Midwest.

After a short downhill walk I spotted the river and made a beeline for it. Wherever I travel, if there’s water, I try to get near it. There was a marina with both small private boats and larger tour boats, and I walked down a ramp to get to the series of docks that ran between the boats. I walked out to the very end of the longest dock and enjoyed the play of sunlight on the water:

After a while of that I decided to head back and walk around town again. On the way I noticed people boarding a very long tour boat that looked like a spaceship or some sort of giant bug. It’s bow had a long, pointy snout with a glass canopy covering it. It was filled with dining tables with four chairs each. There was a bar on the bottom deck and another canopied dining area on the upper deck, plus an open-air terrace in the stern. I looked at the price, decided I couldn’t afford it, and continued walking.

I got as far as the ramp and turned around. “I’m in another country on my birthday by myself, so I’m going to take a ride on this boat, by gum!” I thought to myself. Or words to that effect. I paid the fare and boarded. The boat took a 90-minute trip along the river and past several of the small islands near the city (which is also an island). Our guide had an amazing vocal delivery — his native French was delivered in a melodious singsong, but his English was spoken with an exaggerated singsong that sounded like someone was artificially — and randomly — changing the pitch of his voice as he spoke. His voice and choice of phrases inspired a poem, too.

Here are some photos from the ride:

After the boat cruise I hung out in a Starbucks for a while then eventually made my way back to Sarah MK’s place. She was still teaching a lesson, so I went for another walk near the University of Montreal, which is in a very pretty neighborhood. When I got back, Michele, Sarah’s student, was still there. She asked whether I spoke French and I said no. It turned out, though, that she was only distracting me, because seconds later Sarah emerged from the kitchen with a piece of cake with three lit candles, and she and Michele sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It was the highlight of my day, and yet another example of the completely unexpected kindness I’ve encountered on my tour. Thank you, Sarah and Michele.

We ate cake and chatted for a while. Michele is a massage therapist in hospitals. She works exclusively with cancer patients. Her work sounds both difficult and rewarding. The three of us talked about being present in our lives and also about music.

After Michele left I interviewed Sarah for The Jazz Session. That interview will be posted in early October. Sarah will be performing in NYC on October 10 at Sugar Bar. If you’re in the area, go see her.

This morning I arose early and took the subway to Montreal Central Station to catch my train to NYC. I checked my bank balance again and discovered I had no money at all. So there remains the question of exactly how I’ll get from Manhattan to Brooklyn. But I think with the change in my bag and the few Canadian dollars I have left, I’ll make it. I’ll probably write a book at the end of all this, but it sure won’t be a how-to guide for travelers. Although maybe I’ll publish a pamphlet that says DON’T DO WHAT I DO.

The northernmost house in this part of New York State:

Gorgeous sunset:

I’ll be in New York for a week or so, I think. I’m scheduling some interviews while I’m there. Then I think it’s on to Mississippi and Alabama.

POEM: caught in the St. Mary’s Current

caught in the St. Mary’s Current

the guide’s singsong voice
like the constant winding
of a siren calls our attention
to the left or right of the captain
to see the sights of Montreal
owned by American multinationals
sold to save what the city itself
can no longer support
it’s 800 kilometers to the Atlantic
250 to what the guide calls
“salted water” as if God had
seasoned it to his taste
we cross the angry current
named after the Mother of Christ
the part of the river no ship can
navigate without being torn
asunder by concealed rocks
in the stern are two men with
identical haircuts and sunglasses
either lovers or brothers
they haven’t said a word
a cup of Earl Grey is cooling
on a metal table on the deck
a birthday treat

10 September 2012
Montreal

Tour Diary: In French, No One Can Hear You Scream

(September 10, 2012) MONTREAL — It sometimes amazes me that I’m still standing.

Take tonight, for example. Here’s the scene: I’m in Montreal (I’ll fill in the rest of the day later), and I left my host’s place to find a bite to eat before meeting a Twitter friend to go see music. I knew the surroundings of one subway station a tiny bit, so I got off there and walked a block or two. I’ve mostly been eating pizza for the past week cuz it’s cheap, but I was feeling like it was time for a break from what my friend Jack Mindy calls “nature’s most perfect food.” There was a sushi place down the block. I had $5 in my wallet but I was pretty sure there was a decent (for me) amount of money in my bank account. So I went in and ordered.

I ate my small amount of veggie sushi, drank my tea and asked for the check. It came and I took out my bank card. In this restaurant, the server brings a little card reader over to the table. She slid my card through, then handed me the machine so I could put in the tip. I handed it back. Then the lottery began. Round and round it goes, where it stops … DENIED. Oy.

I’ve had difficulty with my card at other places in Canada, so I was hoping it was just that. I went to the ATM in the front of the restaurant and tried to take out enough money to pay for the meal. I tried $40. Nope. I tried $20. Miracle of miracles, $20 came out of the ATM. The bill was $28 and change. (Much more than I expected, fool that I am.) I had $5 in my wallet and I remembered that I had two $2 coins and a $1 coin in my pocket. So I paid in cash, left a tiny tip, apologized for the tip, and exited into the Montreal night with $0. There was some chance a PayPal transfer would be in my bank in the morning, and I have a Starbucks card with some money on it, too, so one way or the other I knew I could eat in the morning.

And there you have it. That’s how I travel. The thing is, I’ve been in this exact situation — far from home, completely broke — so many times in the past two to three years that I’m just used to it. That’s probably not good, but it’s better than panicking.

After the sushi fiasco, I met my Twitter pal David Ryshpan and we went to Diese Onze, a club that has jazz seven nights a week. David is part of the Kalmunity collective, a large and impressive group of musicians of all kinds who collectively improvise music together. On the bill were David on piano, Jahsun on drums, Eric Hove on saxophone, Mark Haynes on bass, and Malika Tirolien on vocals. Their set was totally improvised, but completely melodic and funky and danceable and fun. Like a great R&B band with no set list and tons of creativity. I was impressed. And Malika? Damn. She had an incredible voice and an equally good ear.

I stayed for a set before fatigue got to me. I went back to the place where I’m staying and chatted for a while with my very talented host, the singer and songwriter Sarah MK.

/ / /

And now, back into the past a bit…

I spent the past five days in Ottawa with my friends Renee Yoxon and Craig Pedersen. Judging by the time I spent with them, they’re two of the hardest-working musicians on the Ottawa scene.

Ottawa is nice. I walked eight miles the first day from their house to downtown and back. Lots of lovely architecture downtown, although for some reason I took no photos at all. I also did two interviews while I was there, one with journalist and pianist Peter Hum and the other with bassist and educator John Geggie. You’ll hear both of those in the next couple weeks.

While I was in Ottawa, I desperately needed a book of poetry. I can’t quite say why — it was just one of those things. I went to several small bookstores but they had almost no poetry books, so I went to Chapters, which is like Barnes and Noble. I spent a looooong time deciding before eventually buying a paperback copy of the collected poems of Philip Larkin (not the huge new one that just came out). It’s a book I already own at least one copy of, but sometimes you just need some Larkin to carry around.

One other smart thing I did in Ottawa was to lock myself out of the house with no shoes, wallet or phone. I went on the porch to read and to write a poem and forgot that the door locked automatically. Luckily Renee and Craig came home between gigs and let me in.

I took a Via Rail train from Ottawa to Montreal. It was a two-hour trip through very lovely countryside. An attendant came down the aisle with a refreshment cart, too, just like on Amtrak. Cough.

Montreal is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in. I came here once before in 2000 with a fellow union organizer. We had a day or two off from our campaign and we were in Concord, NH, so we hopped in a car and drove up to the city. I remember how much I loved it then and I feel the same way now. It’s like going to Europe without flying. I’ll write more about the city in a later installment.

When I arrived, David Ryshpan met me at the station and I interviewed him right there. Then I went to a coffee shop and mixed my Sonny Rollins interview, which you can listen to here. I took the subway to my host’s neighborhood, turned the wrong way and took a 40-minute walk around a very big block. As I later learned, if I’d turned the right way I would have been to her front door in three minutes. Well, at least I wasn’t carrying a 40-pound backpack. Oh wait.

Three Montreal observations: When the subway doors close, they play the first three notes of “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds.” The subway doors open and close before the train has stopped. School crossing guards are called by the awesome name “brigadier scolaire.”

French tip: In French, all the letters are silent. (Thus the title of this post.)

Today is my 39th birthday. I think I’m going to go walk around the old part of the city.

POEM: I just want to go home, that’s all

I just want to go home, that’s all

I just want to go home, that’s all
sit on my futon couch reading a book
poop in my toilet with nobody listening
I want to walk from the bed
to the bathroom with no clothes on
drink tea out of my own mug
fill up my rice cooker then listen
for the click that means it’s time
to make avocado and cucumber rolls
eat them with my own hashi
on a plate I brought back from Japan
I’m tired of saying “on tour”
when I mean “homeless”
I even threw away my bed because
it didn’t fit in my tiny UHaul storage space
it was a comfortable bed, even at the end
when all that was left was my mattress
stacked on top of your mattress

5 September 2012
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Tour Diary: 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival … And Canada!

(4 September 2012) TORONTO, CANADA — I’ve managed to eke out another week of the “Jazz Or Bust” Tour, or, as it’s now known, the “Desperately Looking For Places To Sleep” Tour. My search for a bed is taking me out of the U.S. this week to Ottawa and Montreal. I’m on a layover in Toronto as I write this. Before I say more about that, here’s a look back at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival.

I have to say that my recap of this year’s festival will not be nearly as in-depth as last year’s. This year, however, I recorded interviews at the festival, which I didn’t do in 2011. In fact, two of the three people I spoke with became third-time guests: Sonny Rollins and Donny McCaslin. I also spoke with Geoffrey Keezer, who is technically a second-timer, although his first episode hasn’t aired yet because the album it’s tied to hasn’t yet been released. (It’s a solo piano record, coming next spring.)

Donny McCaslin played in my two favorite sets at the festival — his own gig with his new current working band (Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre and Mark Guiliana) and his duo set with Keezer. McCaslin’s band played music from his forthcoming CD Casting For Gravity. It was full of everything I like about live music: passion, guts, energy, joy, intelligence, and RAWK. The music leapt off the stage and surged through the crowd like a herd of wild horses. I saw strings of 19-year-olds bobbing their heads and air-drumming to Guiliana’s otherworldly rhythms. Lindner has always been one of my favorite keyboardists, ever since I first heard him with Claudia Acuna about 10 years ago. He’s got such a great ear and knows how to use sound to enhance and skew the audio landscape in exciting ways. And, as I said on Twitter, Lefebvre is like the lovechild of Jaco’s chops and John Wetton’s monster 70s sound. It was more like a rock concert than the “typical” jazz show. And I loved it.

Keezer and McCaslin’s duo set was another highlight. First of all, they started with Rush’s “Limelight.” If you know me, you know that hits all my spots. They also played a tune of McCaslin’s called “M” that really grabbed me with its intricacy and exuberance. They both seemed to be having such fun on stage, and that definitely was reflected back at them by the large outdoor crowd slowly baking in the sun. Keezer is a dazzling pianist, but not dazzling for dazzle’s sake. He’s just so good that you can’t help but come away feeling like time listening to him was time well spent.

I also heard a few songs by Cecil McLorin Salvant, a French-American singer whose name I’d never heard before but who impressed me with her command of her instruent and her very real, gut-level feeling for the material she was singing, particularly a version of “John Henry.” I first heard her voice while I was eating in the food tent, and the people around me stopped talking to listen. That’s the sign of a good singer.

David Binney has been a guest on my show, and he fielded a band that made me feel like I was back home at the 55 Bar — except with more sunshine. Binney was joined by Jacob Sacks on piano, Eivind Opsvik on bass and Dan Weiss on drums, a quartet of New York’s finest. Binney is one of those rare soloists who can bring a crowd shouting to its feet. The whole band sounded inspired. Toward the end of the set they were joined by saxophonsit Chris Potter, who would share the main stage later that evening with Pat Metheny’s Unity Band. Potter and Binney were a wonderful front line, challenging and supporting each other.

I caught the Unity Band at the main stage. The music didn’t grab me all that much (although I generally like Metheny’s writing and playing), but what did make me happy was the intense love shown by the crowd for Metheny. I wonder whether any other jazz artist commands such a truly passionate following among such a diverse group of fans — even non-jazz people. When I asked that question on Twitter, folks suggested Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock or Charlie Hunter, but I’m not sure I find any of those names convincing. There’s just something about the ubridled love that Metheny’s fans throw at the stage that puts me more in mind of Clapton devotees than Herbie fans.

Here are a few more photos:

A massive triple big band from Michigan State University that would have impressed Stan Kenton with its size:

Seas of people digging the music:

David Binney’s case, backstage (I just like this photo for some reason):

My quiet space in the hotel:

I should mention that, just like last year, the festival brought me there and put me up in a hotel. Huge thanks to everyone who made that possible. It really is a wonderful festival in a great city.

This morning I took the tunnel bus from Detroit to Windsor and caught a Greyhound to Ottawa. I’m staying in Ottawa till the 9th, when I leave for Montreal for two days. Then I head back to NYC, where a kind member of the show has offered me a futon for a bit. Then I don’t know what’s going to happen. If you’d like to help out, please join The Jazz Session.