And by the time they're five...

Working with small children is a very interesting experience. They are so open, so interested and oh sooo easily bored and done with you! Who knew I would ever do the C-Jam Blues (in about five hundred variations) with a group of two-ear-olds? And the five-year-olds - don't even get me started! They are essentially done with life, have seen it all and just want to go on plotting the end of the world, which I realized when I noticed them leaning back with folded arms, drawing on their cigarette, with a derisive look in their eyes that clearly stated, "is that all you've got?"

Characters

One of the glorious things when on the road is the encounter with people who, in their sweet and sometimes disturbing uniqueness or cliche-fulfilling ways make your day, or night, depending. There was the chain smoking sex therapist, who kept on lighting up enthusiastically despite a complete loss of voice. The very drunk species of southern Bavarian "Stammtisch" inhabitant who had already been nudged towards the door by the be-dirndled waitress but kept trying to string a sentence together to fling at our poor but very sweet bass player; who, on his way out of the "Wirtshaus" spontaneously, and, well, in a very trainwreck-like fashion, serenaded me with an umpah band song that I had never heard, mimicking what looked like a broken clarinet. It was difficult to say... Or the lady on night shift at the hotel, who, at 1am, blessed us with an outer stream-of-consciousness monologue while we had a night cap at the hotel bar (very generously poured, I might add), and did NOT stop until we left, claiming she could speak various German AND Austrian dialects which, to my apparently deaf ear, all sounded the same (oberpfaelzisch, I think). But my favorite kind of "character" came in the shape of the jazz club owner, who, in 1986, moved to his present location precisely to run a jazz club in the basement of a commercial building, and whithout whom the place would definitely no longer exist. Who just loves to talk about jazz, recordings, musicians who have come through, the state of the business, more jazz recordings (oh Sarah Vaughan live in Kopenhagen! - must get my hands on that one!), meanwhile wielding first a broom, then a microphone cable and later a dish towel, keeping the customers lubricated and us musicians happy with his musical punctuations, thoroughly upbeat manner and, well, interesting coffee. Thank you, Eugen! I hope you stay with the jazz community for many more years!

when old friends sing together

Berlin: Shared Night at B-Flat. My friend Alexa and her husband Jens host this night once a month, on the first or second Monday of the month, sharing the stage with another, invited, act. Except last night it was a somewhat unique constellation. It was in fact a congregation of old friends who had met fifteen years prior as music students in New York City. Struggling, searching for their voice, their identity, trying to stay afloat in the ever chugging maelstrom that is spitting out the ignorant and devouring the hopeless. Each one of us was hesitantly trying to assemble a musician's life, not quite knowing or recognizing all the pieces of the puzzle, searching for his or her particular way through an undulating maze.
Now, fifteen years later, in Berlin, things are different. Alexa Rodrian, Beat Kaestli and I arrive here slightly bruised by life's daily challenges, somewhat tired and worse for wear after years of pushing, creating, living, becoming partner, wife, mother. But also with a clear sense of who we are, as artists, as friends, as human beings. Each one of us raises their voice, their own, unique voice, and in the end, we come together in a song or two that bears witness to our deep disparity as beings and personalities that nonetheless blend to a true, ringing harmony.