11 Days in Jamaica – Day 2

Sunset Jamaica Grande. (c) Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

Friday June 15, 2007

Our first day playing. 12:30 downbeat. This trip I’m holding down the baritone saxophone chair. Last year I played baritone in Jamaica for the first time. For me, the best word to describe playing bari is “fun.”

I had a good-sized breakfast to start the day. Then a quick run up the 10 flights of stairs to my room. If I can run 6 to 8 floors without stopping I feel good. Today I did all 10 floors before my legs turned to lead. Not bad.

The hotel staff was wrapping up setting up the PA system when I arrived at the gig. So we were able to start on time. The first tune on the first gig is the first chance we have to see how the whole band sounds together in the open air and heat/humidity of the Caribbean. Today we sounded very good right off the bat. By the second chart we had locked in. This trip featured a very hot sax section and it was living up to the billing. We were tight, very balanced.

Midway through the set, our lead alto player, Rory, took a solo. He was on fire! Burning! I was enjoying it so much I almost missed my entrance.

All too soon the first set was over. Last year after a gig playing baritone, I was worn out. Walking the few feet to dinner was a chore. I felt like a boxer who had gone the full 12 rounds, walks back to his corner and collapses, spent, onto the stool.

Not this year. This time I felt energized after the first set. I was ready to go a few more rounds. My year-old Cannonball bari sounded incredibly good. It roared. It soared. Floor-rumbling bottom end. Notes in the staff sounded like a bowed bass. 3-hour set? Bring it on!!

Something happened during the break. Maybe it was too long. Maybe we ate too much. I don’t know. But whatever happened, that chemistry the band had during the first set was gone.

Lunch in the Grande Palm Courtyard was just about over. No use rushing to put my axe away only to come back down to a closing buffet. On a whim I went over to the Jamalicious Café. They were serving one of my favorite Jamaican dishes; curry goat. How good was it? Let’s just say there was a whole lotta lip-smackin’ goin’ on.

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