Saturday 14th October 2006 : London : I just got home at 2.30pm. No problems carrying on my sax into the cabin. I slept all the way, so hopefully that will help with the jet lag ( which always seems worse travelling east ). I'll spend the rest of the day unpacking and sorting through the piles of mail. That's it for now. The band will be touring in 2007 starting in Australia. I will post the dates on my MySpace site http://myspace.com/ianritchiemusic as soon as they are confirmed. My blog will resume in January ( although I will put up any cool pictures I receive from the U.S. shows from other band members or any of you out there that want to send any to me as and when I get them ) .............
Friday 13th October 2006 : Seattle/London : Had some lunch with Alan and the boys before packing and heading for the airport. Made it through security with my sax so hopefully I'm not going to have a problem carrying it onto the plane. We met up with Eddie, Colin, Robin, Steve and Alfie in the B.A. lounge. Boarding in 40 minutes .........
Thursday 12th October 2006 : Seattle : The day of the last American gig. The Seattle audience were loud and enthusiastic. It was a great way to end the tour. Everyone performed really well and had a great time doing it. After the show there was some shenanigans back at the hotel. We all stayed up far too late. I managed to hook up with my cousin Alan and his sons Andrew and Ian who rather sensibly retired a lot earlier than the rest of us.
Wednesday 11th October 2006 : Seattle : Did a little siteseeing around the downtown and Pike market area. The last band dinner. There will be turns by some of us; Roger has relented and is allowing anyone who wants to bow out, to do so. ( or so he said last night on the plane! )............. Ron found a great restaurant serving some interesting local delicacies ( amazing fish and beef from animals that are the same breed as the type that produce Japanese 'Soba' beef ). Roger and Laurie turned up a little late as they had been to see some of the Who set. Harry kicked off the party pieces with a quiz that proved the entire band are lame brains apart from Roger ( and Dave who came in second ). Richelle recited a lovely poem which she penned herself about meeting Harry and touring with the band. It was both heartfelt and funny. I was up next with a recitation of 'The Tay Railbridge Disaster' by the Great McGonigal. This was kindly received. The highlight spot was definitely Grahams performance of 'Great Gig In The Sky'. Roger played 'Misty' on the trumpet, there was community singing ( mainly 'Irene Goodnight' ), Pat chipped in with some awesome singing and Dave, Trip and Andrew said some nice things about being on tour with this particular group. All in all it was a grand evening.
Tuesday 10th October 2006 : Los Angeles/San Francisco/Seattle : We fly to San Francisco today for the Shoreline Amphitheater gig. This is the penultimate show. I just found out by email that the party pieces have been reinstated for the end of tour dinner. I better get practicing! ..... Flew in around 5.00pm. Got to meet Gina and have a chat before the show. The gig went well with particularly good sound from the amazing Trip by all accounts. Straight on the plane after the show and off to Seattle.
Monday 9th October 2006 : Los Angeles : Had a nice stroll down to Venice. I'm enjoying reading John Twelve Hawks 'The Traveller' and got through another couple of chapters on the beach. In the evening John, Holly and I went to the Harvelle Blues Club on 4th. Some excellent players were doing funk versions of various Stevie Wonder and George Benson tunes. We put our names down for a couple of tunes but bailed out around 1.00am before we got called to the stage. I'm not sure that 'My Baby Just Cares For Me' and 'There's No Business Like Show Business' would have gone down that well in this company anyway.
Sunday 8th October 2006 : Los Angeles : Did a little shopping at the Santa Monica mall then headed on the bus to the Bowl. Another great show. Failed to get Gina and friends backsatge to the after show lig. Met James Guthrie at the party. Had a drink and pizza back at the hotel with Roger, Laurie, John, Holly, Andrew and Nick.
Saturday 7th October 2006 : Los Angeles : Did a bit more rollerblading and ran into John and family on the boardwalk. We had a little lunch in a cafe on the front then I dropped them off in Venice before skating down the beach one last time. I had a bite in a deli on Santa Monica ( hot pastrami on sourdough with a side of potato salad and a beer ) then played a few tunes with the band in the lobby of the hotel. Biff Hannon and Kristin Korb kindly let me disrupt their smooth running set and did a splendid job of making me sound good on 'it Could Happen To You', 'Girl From Ipanema' and 'Doxy' before Holly arrived from San Francisco. We had a glass of wine, some sushi and another glass of wine with Trip in the hotel bar before calling it a night.
Friday 6th October 2006 : Los Angeles : John picked me up at the hotel and took me round to his place in Marina Del Rey. Had a nice chat with Chris and we went to lunch in Venice with Jack in tow. Picked Holly ( little ) from school and John and I set off for the Bowl in his Tr6. It took about an hour in appalling L.A. traffic. John hung out backstage before meeting up with Chris for the show. The gig was spirited if a little rough and ready. I got together with J and C at the after show party. Alan Parsons was there, who I had met previously at the Malta Jazz festival. We discovered that his father had tuned John's ( John Ashton Thomas - composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor ) piano a number of times! Later we hooked up with Andy, Roger and Laurie back at the hotel.
Thursday 5th October 2006 : Los Angeles : I am getting together with Kevin Laffey at Musso and Franks for lunch so I'd better get going .......... Had a very pleasant lunch with Kevin reminiscing about 80's L.A. Got to the Bowl in plenty of time to find a good reed before the soundcheck. The gig was fun, with a number of new visual treats that I hope to have pics of soon .....
Wednesday 4th October 2006 : Los Angeles : A day of in La. I spent most of the afternoon rollerblading from Santa Monica to Venice then back down to Pacific Pallisades. In the evening the local promoter took Roger and the band to a great Italian restaurant on Sunset.
Tuesday 3rd October 2006 : Phoenix/Los Angeles : HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAT! Hung out by the pool for an hour before packing and heading to the venue. After the soundcheck Katie presented Pat with her birthday present from the band. ( earrings ). Had a great gig. For me it is so much better to be hot on stage than cold. The saxophone stays in tune without having to constantly blow down it to keep the metal warm! ( like I was having to do for the last couple of gigs ). After the concert it was straight to the airport and a quick flight to Los Angeles. Roger had a cake organized for Pat.
Monday 2nd October 2006 : Phoenix : Apparently Jon has had some emails about the picture in front of the ice sculpture in Indianapolis. There is speculation that Jon is stoned. This is definitely not the case. I have put up another picture of Jon which does not make him look like a dope fiend! ......... In the morning I rented a bicycle and headed out into the desert. Before very long I decided that a hat and some sun block would be a good idea as the temperature was in the 100's. I found a Seven Eleven where I purchased the said items and illicited the comment 'You're not from these parts are you?' from the shopkeeper. ( see the hat picture ). With my new found sun protection I headed back to the ranch and persuaded Harry to join me on another expedition. We followed the directions to the 'dynamite off road trails' for 3/4 of an hour before noticing the last line of the instructions read 'Park here for the trails'. We bailed out and headed back to the hotel before Harry turned into a beetroot. In the evening I had a very pleasant dinner with Graham, Harry and Carol before heading to the Kazimierz World Wine Bar. Harry bailed but Nicole came along for moral support. The jam was co- hosted by the excellent tenor player Tony Vacca and the equally excellent singer Margo Reed. I had a great time and got to play 'It Could Happen To You' ( one of my favourite tunes ), 'I'll Remember April' and a rip roaring 'Tenor Madness' featuring all the sax players in the house. Nicole seemed to enjoy herself. I certainly did. An early night tonight ( midnight ) as we have a gig tomorrow followed by a flight to L.A.
Sunday 1st October 2006 : Phoenix : A day off in a beautiful resort hotel in the hills above the city. I hung out by the pool with Trip, Ron ( Delsener ) and Harry. Later, Harry and I found a piano in the ballroom and played jazz for a couple of hours. In the evening we had a great meal with Roger and the crew. It was great to have a chance to chat with some of the fantastic people who make the show run smoothly every night.
Saturday 30th September 2006 : Chicago/Indianapolis/Phoenix : The flight to Indianapolis was quick and easy. It helps a lot the we fly on our own chartered plane. Another very chilly gig. The band and Roger were in particularly good form. I have some new parts in 'Beirut' during Snowy's solo that I play with Andy. After the gig it was 3 hours flying time to Phoenix, where we are for 3 days. It will be great to be somewhere warm again!
Friday 29th September 2006 : Chicago : The day of the Chicago gig. The weather was wet as well as cold. Roger was amazing in that no one knew he was chilled to the bone. i could hardly play and the guitarists had a very difficult time. In spite of this it was a great gig. the audience must have been much colder than we were but seemed to have a wonderful time. I considered going to the late night jam ( 1.30-4.00am ) at Green Mill but did the sensible thing and went to bed around 2.00pm. Tomorrow will be a long day as we fly to Indianapolis, do the show then fly on to Phoenix.
Thursday 28th September 2006 : Chicago : It is much colder in Chicago today but still clear. I cycled south, explored Chinatown, continued down the lakeside till the weather started to change for the worse. Turned around and discovered I had been cycling with wind assistance! it took me twice as long to get back to town, so that was my afternoon. After a relaxing bath in the oversized hotel tub i played a couple of games of chess with Harry. We came out even. in the evening we had some Italian food and went to see David Sanchez play at the Chicago Jazz Showcase. This is a great venue with a nice piano and good atmosphere. The band were amazing. David Sanchez plays great tenor saxophone. The tunes were complex, using shifting time signatures. Even Joe Henderson's 'Black Narcissus' found itself with an A section in 7. The band negotiated all this with ease. If you are in Chicago over the next few days, go to the Jazz Showcase.
Wednesday 27th September 2006 : Chicago/Cleveland/Chicago : We leave for Cleveland at 1.15pm ......... Got into Cleveland just in time for the soundcheck at 6.00pm. Onstage at 7.30pm. I had a patchy show but the rest of the band played great as always. I hoped to meet up with my cousin Rick and his wife Nancy and family. Unfortunately the short time we were in town made this impossible. Back in Chicago by midnight.
Tuesday 26th September 2006 : Chicago : Another day off. It's a beautiful day for cycling so I checked out some other parts of the city and went along the lakeside in the opposite direction from yesterday. The hotel messaging system has broken down so it is very difficult to hook up with other members of the band. Ran into Harry in the late afternoon so we went to a local camera store to look at digital cameras. Roger is in the Hamptons but still suggested the band go out for a dinner on him. Trip found an excellent Japanese restaurant by the river and we all had a splendid time.
Monday 25th September 2006 : Chicago : A day off in Chicago. I rented a bicycle and pottered around the city. I had a particularly enjoyable cycle along the lakeside. There is a cycle/rollerblade/running path that goes for 18miles along the Chicago side of Lake Michigan. Had a game of chess with Harry then, in the evening, we went to Cuatro in search of jazz and a bit of a play. Unfortunately the excellent band were not playing jazz so we decided not to sit in. When we got back to the hotel the concierge suggested we make use of the piano in the basement bar, so i got out my sax and we played through a good few standards and bebop tunes. 'Bouncing With Bud' is one of my current favourites.
Sunday 24th September 2006 : Washington/Pittsgurgh/Chicago : Had another turn round the Potomac in a kayak before heading to the airport en route to Pittsburgh. Another enjoyable gig, then off to Chicago. It will be my first time in the city.
Saturday 23rd September 2006 : Washington : Rented a bicycle and did a bit of sightseeing. The Capitol, The White House, The Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument are all in and around an area called The National Mall. The gig in the evening was at the Nissan Pavillion. We stayed in Washington after the shown so had a bite and a drink in the hotel bar before retiring.
Friday 22nd September 2006 : Washington : Harry and I rented a couple of kayaks and had a paddle up the Potomac and round Theodore Roosevelt Island. Very enjoyable. The river is very shallow, so we nearly grounded the canoes a couple of times while trying to take a shortcut through the island. This canoeing definitely gives you an appetite, so I'm off now into Georgetown to grab a bite to eat before checking out some blues later in the evening.
Thursday 21st September 2006 : Toronto/Montreal/Washington : Bags at 1.30pm. Leave hotel at 2.30pm. Takeoff at 3.00pm. Arrive Washington at 4.10pm. ( extract from 'The Daily Pane' ) ........ Montreal managed to outdo even Toronto in the 'loudest audience so far' competition! We had an amusing incident with the follow spot during 'Beirut'. As Andy's opening solo started the followspot was on Snowy. Snowy pointed at Andy to no avail. Roger, who was spotlit himself walked over to Andy to no avail. The operator finally got the point when Snowy walked over to Andy and both he and Roger pointed at the soloist! ( half way through his excellent feature ) ................. Unfortunately I was unable to see any of the city as we fly in and out in one day. I am currently on the plane bound for Washington ( 'round midnight ). Harry is playing a game on his Nintendo DS. Jon is listening to the latest Bob Dylan album from iTunes on his laptop. Most of the rest of the band are reading. Roger is not with us as he decided to fly back to his place in the Hamptons for a days rest before the next show in Bristow on friday. We should land around 1.00am. Apparently we have to go through regular US customs and immigration ( unlike entering Canada where we were met on the tarmac and drove straight to our hotel ) so won't get to the hotel till quite late. A long day, but tomorrow is a day off, so plenty of time to recuperate and find a cool jazz club!
Wednesday 20th September 2006 : Toronto : Slept verrrrry late. I will take things very easy today, so as to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the show this eve .............. Roger suggested I play some additional saxophone parts on the final chorus of 'Wish You Were Here', so I'll try this out at tonights gig. I also have been playing a harmony to the backing vocal parts on 'Sheep', so I'm onstage for most of the tunes in the first set. The Toronto audience were the loudest yet!
Tuesday 19th September 2006 : Toronto : A rest day. I had a wander round town and did some laundry at a coin op in Queen Street. In the evening we all repaired to a great retaurant at the other end of Queen Street and had some fabulous food and a bit of a sing song both courtesy of Roger. After dinner Darryl took Harry and I to the Rex where the local music college were having a jam night featuring members of the music faculty. They kindly agreed to let the two of us sit in on a couple of tunes. Thank you Mark ( great alto sax player ).
Monday 18th September 2006 : New York/Detroit/Toronto : We checked out around 1.00pm and bussed to Newartk airport where we pick up our chartered plane which will be with us for the rest of the tour. I'm writing this on the plane on the way to Detroit ........... The first set went well, though Snowy had a couple of technical problems on 'Shine'. I am waiting to hear Carol sing, then I know it's time for me to be on stage ........ after the show it was back to the airport for a quick flight to Toronto by midnight.
Sunday 17th September 2006 : New York : Our last day in New York. I had planned to go to the Guggenheim but ended up trying to hook up with Carol on the rooftop of the Met. A fantastic view of NY and sculptures of crocodiles impaled with screwdrivers. What more could you ask! They also have a great modern art section featuring loads of great Picasso's and Leger's which I was not expecting. Missed Carol but had a great time with Holly. We walked back across Central Park. Checked out the dragonfly pond which was full of turtles. In the evening I met up with Jason Kaufman, Dan Brown's editor, and had a very pleasant meal before seeing Joe Lovano's last set at the Village Vangaurd.
Saturday 16th September 2006 : New York/Camden : Another wonderful audience. No booing whatsoever during 'Beirut'. We all had a great time. Back in New York I hooked up with Susie, Holly and Tanya and had some great Margaritta's in a bar on Sullivan.
Friday 15th September 2006 : New York/Wantagh : Met up with Di and her colleagues at DDB then it was off to Jones Beach Theatre on a rather rainy friday afternoon. It took us 3 hours to drive the 40 miles out of town. The weather was miserable, but the crowd were amazing. In spite of being drenched they all hung in there and seemed to have a great time. Respect to the spotlight operator who was suspended on a gantry miles above the stage throughout the entire show. The trip back to NY was much faster and I went down to the Blue Note where I had heard there was a jam. I was misinformed however, so had a relatively early night.
Thursday 14th September 2006 : New York : A day off. Had a great dinner in the evening with Tanya, Susie and Holly.
Wednesday 13th September 2006 : New York : Many thanks to everyone who sent me links to the MSG reviews. Popped into FCB to chat to Gregory and Andrew then went straight to the venue. The second MSG gig was storming. The crowd were great and the band were in good form. It was nice to have the boys choir help us out on 'Brick'. Phil Collins popped into the dressing room after the event and seemed impressed by the show.
Tuesday 12th September 2006 : New York : Slept late to recover from last night. Had a great cup of coffee from the Porto Rico Import Co. and updated my blog .............. Once more onto the roof. Later today we will be at Madison Square Garden. Watch out for the pig! ........ Madison Square Garden is quite a place! We had rather peculiar sound on stage, but by all accounts it sounded fine out front. Anyone who finds reviews of the the shows please email me links. I don't see anything in The New York Times today ( either online or in the paper ) but perhaps tomorrow. There was quite a lot of murmuring during 'Beirut' on this occasion, but that was to be expected considering the previous days events. I met up with Tanya and Susie after the show. Tanya apparently got some good shots of the show which I look forward to seeing.
Monday 11th September 2006 : New York : Posted one of my 'Ian Ritchie's SOHO Project' CD's off to Merendino Gaetano in Sicily. Had a blow on my horn on the roof of the hotel which overlooks the Village and has a view of the Empire State Building. I must take my camera up there tomorrow. Later in the afternoon I went to MOMA ( Museum of Modern Art ). I haven't been since I was in New York with Deaf School in the late 70's! It was very nostalgic to see again all those great paintings by Miro, Mondrian, Magritte ( do I only like painters starting in M? ), oh and Ernst, Leger, Seurat and Gris. I remember being in the gallery with members of D.S. who were all art students and being given the background on the painters. Bacon and Pollock were particular favorites of theirs. It was nice to find 'Christina's World' by Andrew Wyeth. ( an eponymous song on the Big Dish album 'Swimmer' which I produced in the 80's ), Adolph Gottlieb's 'Man Looking At A Woman' which I don't remember from my previous visit but is great and Pablo Picasso's 'The Kitchen' which falls into the same category. After a couple of slices of pizza for dinner I hooked up with Harry and we took the subway to 2751 Broadway where Frank Lacy was hosting a jam at Smoke. We caught the last few tunes of his set which were great, in a groovy Eddie Harris kind of a way. Frank is an amazing trombonist and singer with a huge personality. He has previously played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, so it was an honour to share the stage with him and play 'Nardis' later in the evening. I was one of the few horn players there that night so I got to play quite a few tunes. The most memorable ( apart from 'Nardis' of course ) being 'Funny Valentine' and 'There Is No Greater Love'. There were loads of singers ( some great ) and piano players ( Dan was amazing again ) so Harry only got on stage for a couple of tunes. He bailed out around 1.00am but I stayed later and caught the subway downtown around 2.30pm.
Sunday 10th September 2006 : Boston/New York : Trained back to the Big Apple. Got in around 5.30pm. I'm hoping to get in to see Joe Lovano, Bill Frissell and Paul Motion who are playing at the Village Vanguard tonight. I must find out if Harry or Mark Brickman ( lights ) are interested in going ........... I got to the 11.00pm show at the Vanguard. Richelle has arrived from London, so Harry was otherwise engaged. I arrived in time to here the encore from the previous set ( outside the door ). I had a nice chat to Cathy ( and family ) from Houston who was in New York for fashion week. The set was fantastic. This has got to be one of the best trios on the planet. Towards the end of the set they took apart 'Body And Soul' and 'My Little Suede Shoes' in their own unique way. I had a seat near the front of the tiny club and enjoyed every minute. ( more than can be said of Cath and Co. who bailed out a couple of tunes from the end ). I highly recommend checking this amazing band out.
Saturday 9th September 2006 : Boston : Had a wander around Back Bay and South End. I can now say that I have been to Berklee College of Music! ( just for the afternoon ). Bus to the gig at 5.00pm ......... Another fantastic show. A very, very noisy audience! After the gig Harry and I headed to Wally's and caught the last set from a local band. They played a couple of Miles Davis 'ESP' style originals composed by the trumpet player and alto saxist. All terrific players; particularily the excellent Chick Corea influenced pianist.
Friday 8th September 2006 : Boston : Slept late. Had a wander round North End and then went on the bus to Mansfield ( which I didn't realise is about an hour out of Boston ) for and early soundcheck at 5.30pm. The Mansfield crowd were loud and enthusiastic. The gig was great. Does anyone know if there is a 'where did the pig get to? ' website? It is getting hotter and hotter near the back of the stage where all the pyros go off. Graham was looking seriously worried at one point as the flames shot up behind him. Most of us went to an Italian restaurant with Ron, the NY promoter, after the gig. Harry and I are hoping there is still some jazz going on at Wally's after tomorrows concert.
Thursday 7th September 2006 : New York/Boston : I'm writing this on the train somewhere between New York and Boston. Harry is having a nap, recovering from last nights jazz expedition. Graham is regaling Carol and I with stories of his checkered past with Dollar ( English pop duo from the 80's produced by the great Trevor Horn ). Lots of very funny road stories involving the Cottle brothers ( Laurence and Richard ), drink, drugs and cars. We have a night off in Boston before gigs on friday and saturday. Since Boston is home of Berklee music school we are expecting lots of jazz and jamming opportunities! Carol recognised actor Giancarlo Esposito who was sitting opposite us and said hi ........ Harry was unable to hook up with his Berklee contacts, so we just had a bite to eat and an early night. Probably a good idea, as we want to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for tomorrows gig!
Wednesday 6th September 2006 : New York/Holmdel/New York : The day of the first gig and also Roger's birthday. The band presented him him an iPod full of interesting tunes just before we went onstage. The gig was great fun and well received ( apart from some dissent at the end of 'Beirut' ). The lights and pyro are particularily effective on this tour. Andy rocked on 'Beirut'. We headed back to New York after the gig and then Harry and I took a cab to Cleopatra's Needle where the Dan Furman trio were hosting a jam. There were some great players there. Another Dan played the hell out of the piano on 'Oleo' which I sat in on. Harry did sterling work on 'Stella'. We bailed out around 2.30pm and headed back to SoHo ( the other one ).
Tuesday 5th September 2006 : East Hampton/New York : The last day of rehearsal. The band is up to speed. 'Beirut' is developing nicely. The new visuals are fantastic. I won't give away any details except to say that Roger has taken the best effects from the European shows and added a few surprises! My saxophone has survived the trip and is blowing as well as ever. We went to Roger's house in the Hamptons for dinner and drinks ( some excellent French wine ). The evening was very pleasant and ended in a game of charades with the band devided into two teams. I had to mime 'The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice', an obscure Jimi Hendrix song that no one on my team had even heard of. I failed miserably, much to the amusement of all and sundry. We have our final run through this afternoon, then relocate to New York. More from there ........ Rather drizzily in NY. I had a quick wander round the Village and headed to bed around midnight.
Saturday 2nd September 2006 : East Hampton : Woke early ( for a musician ) around 8.00am due to the jet lag. Wandered into East Hampton and had a look around before heading to the studio for the first day of rehearsal. Spent some time revamping 'Leaving Beirut' before running through the set. Everything sounds good and lots of new visuals and surprises for the shows. Wound up around 6.00pm and headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Friday 1st September 2006 : London/East Hampton: I am sitting in my flat in Willesden Green waiting for a car to pick me up and take me to Heathrow. The band are travelling to New York today, then on to East Hampton where we will do three days of rehearsal before the first gig in Holmdel, NJ. I am a little concerned about my saxophone, which I think I may have to check rather than carry on to the plane as I usually would. The extra security at UK airports only allows for one small piece of hand luggage. I am quite worried about how well the sax will fare being thrown around by baggage handlers. I have packed it up in its case in a bag surrounded by foam and will keep my fingers crossed! ................ Arrived safely in East Hampton. My tenor looks ok but I won't know how well it survived the trip until I play it at the rehearsal tomorrow. It was great to meet up with the members of the band again. We will see Jon and Roger tomorrow as they are already in the US. ( Roger doing tour pre production and Jon lives here ).