Well, I guess a little explanation is called for. That was the last day of my tour with the Billy Vaughn Orchestra in Japan, nearly three weeks of traveling all over, on bullet trains and locals, buses and taxis, and even one plane trip to save time over the ferry. We finished the tour in Osaka, and the morning after our last performance began early, a 6 AM departure from our hotel. We had an early flight to Narita (Tokyo), a long layover, then a flight back to the States. I had arranged with the contractor and the promoter to fly separately from the orchestra, to San Francisco instead of Los Angeles, because I had a very special event lined up -- a live Blue Note recording with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra and jazz guitar great, Kenny Burrell, in celebration of Kenny's 75th birthday. Other luminaries were to include Hubert Laws and Joey DeFrancesco.
I caught the flight to San Francisco International Airport, where I was met my my wonderful sister, Mikie, and her husband Charles. They drove me to Oakland, where the recording was to take place that evening at Yoshi's Jazz Club. In the course of the flight, I had crossed the International Date Line, where it was still July 31 on the eastern side, so the date didn't change after 24 hours; it remained July 31. We got to Oakland, had lunch, and then I went on to a sound check, dinner and a change of clothes, and two sets that evening which were recorded with a live audience. By the time we finished at midnight, my day had lasted 40 hours! By the end of the evening, I was fighting sleep and trying to keep from falling off my chair, but I wouldn't have missed that event for anything.
I definitely slept well that night, but the next day had to bum a ride to Santa Cruz, where we recorded an additional night at Kuumbwa, a local jazz club. From there I rented a car and drove home to Los Angeles, where I repacked my suitcase and headed off to Hawaii for another trombone adventure. Whatta life!
Kenny Burrell turned 75 on July 31, 2006. That night he finished a five-day run at Yoshi's in Oakland and then the next day played with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra in Santa Cruz. This CD commemorates the occasion with performances from both nights, presenting Burrell’s sparkling guitar in settings that range from an intimate trio to fronting Wilson's 17 –piece band. The material reflects Burrell's long career and broad associations. Among the small group tracks, there's a beautiful quartet sequence of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," J.J. Johnson's "Lament," and Miles Davis's "All Blues," each demonstrating Burrell's consummate lyricism and absolute mastery of the mainstream modern. The big-band tracks pick up on associations with Duke Ellington, including the elegant "Sophisticated Lady" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," with the 88-year-old Wilson providing a sparkling foundation that has Burrell and company soaring. Best of all is the extended "A Night in Tunisia" with a septet that has organist Joey DeFrancesco and flutist Hubert Laws. --Stuart Broomer