Istanbul NOT Constantinople...
I can't believe that in a little more than two months our little jazz ensemble is heading to Istanbul. We are now getting gigs in that city with a day trip and concert lined-up in the ancient city of Nicea, too! (That's Iznik in contemporary Turkey - a city first noted in 312 BCE.) What's more, next Friday night we're doing a show and one of our new friends from the local Turkish Cultural Center is going to join us on the traditional ozan.
NOTE: If you are in town, please come to join us Friday night at Baba Louie's on Depot Street in Pittsfield. We start at 6:30 pm and will play three sets until 9:30 or 10 pm. In addition to our Turkish friend, a few local rock and jazz musicians will be setting in for some surprises, too. It will be a KILLER show.
Tonight we played a small concert - with conversation about peace-making through music - at a local mountain inn for about 40 people. It was delightful to be with like-minded souls who were interested in both the tunes and the mission. What's more, we were able to generate some serious dollars for our travels - and make some smokin' music on tunes like Brubeck's "Take 5," "Tenor Madness" by Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia" and "One Note Samba" by the father of Bossa Nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim of Brazil. We rocked/funked out, too, to Joe Zawinul/Cannonball Adderley's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy." And Dianne cooked on the sweet and sassy "C'est Magnifique!"
Part of me still can't believe that this trip is happening. Three + years ago when I first met Andy - leader of the Jazz Ambassadors - we hit it off talking about music and how it can bring people together. We also wondered out loud if we might ever be able to collaborate on a music and peace-making trip to a Muslim country as a small but tender antidote to the hatred and stupidity that so often dominates the American public arena when it comes to Islam. Since then, our church has done three in-depth studies into Islam and helped raise money for Greg Mortenson's work in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And since December, my church buddies have been coming out in serious numbers when the Jazz Ambassadors play local gigs to show their love and support.
And now it is getting close... Who would have ever imagined an "Arab Spring" of democracy and people's revolution in Tunis, Egypt, Libya with serious ripples in Syria, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen? Who would have ever thought that our little jazz band was sensing something of the Holy Spirit in action? And who would have dreamed we would have received such incredible local support? It is humbling and energizing and I am a very grateful man.