October 26, 2009
as far as one can be certain
from the album fall europe tour 09
train from aarau, switzerland to bolzano, italy
i spent my time in switzerland nearly exclusively inside. the first two days i was recovering from the tour. the third day i was writing music. and the last two i spent in and out of headaches and upset stomach. i think i got sick from the exertion of being on the road, the 16 concerts in the past three and a half weeks, and of course the general strains that life seems to bring. (perhaps i’ll speak more of this later.) the body has a way of staving its needs for a while. and i’m thanking for being in good health throughout all of my performances.
the highlights of my time in switzerland revolve around one of my most cherished friends, bardia charaf. a man of extraordinary talent which surpasses his years, he is a deeply gifted composer and virtuosic saxophone player. bardia and i met six years ago while studying at havana’s instituto superior de arte, cuba’s national conservatory. we hadn’t seen each other since then. but after hearing some of my music, bardia sent me some pop and electronica backtracks of his own. a stellar jazz and classical musician, i was shocked to see bardia working in more contemporary styles, and a little miffed he hadn’t told me sooner! (his response was that he found “fun boyz,” and “moody,” to be so good, he didn’t want to give me just anything. :) ) the tracks possessed his usual vigour and brilliance, whilst reflecting his persian and arabic background, and intimacy with cuban music. bueníssimo! i couldn’t pass up the chance to see him in europe and hopefully develop some of these tracks with him there.
i had the pleasure of landing in baden mid-way through one of bardia’s concerts. walking into the jam-packed pub between songs, the show stopped for a moment as bardia peeled himself from the piano and walked over to give me a hug. a dramatic moment befitting us both, i think. bardia and his multi-cultural cast of musicians (venezuelan, colombian, cuban, and brasilian) expounded his triumphantly chorded tunes with über-rhythmic fire through the night. but it was bardia’s inability to stop playing hours later, long after the concert was over, that really struck me. i saw in him the same fire and delight for life that i possess, unrelenting, verging on madness. i felt a little less alone in that moment. perhaps this is the source of our strangely powerful brotherly love, i wondered.
in the end, my need for recovery made our collaboration slow-going. but as far as one can be certain in this life, we parted with the knowledge that this was just the beginning.