Chasing Music, Newport Edition: Day 1

This truly goes down in history as being the best birthday ever. Again, thanks everyone for wishing me well. It means a lot.

So, after about 10 hours of traveling time total (note to self: direct flights are good, kthx), I made a landing in Santa Ana, California.

I don’t think I have words for what it felt like to make the descent into SoCal. You know how I always say that NYC is home, and possibly the only home I’ll have? I may have to amend that statement by saying that I have to live in SoCal for at least two years. It just feels welcoming. Even from midair, if I get the feeling that I just plain need to be somewhere…I tend to listen to that.

So, when I am off my flight, whom do I meet with but Joy, Lory, Lisa, Char, and Anita? And Len & Julie? And Renata? And my new client and Lemonade star Brad Rambur? And Bruce Nazarian? All people whom I have connected with, but never thought I’d ever meet face-to-face. Until, well…now. Again, I don’t think I have words. There’s a certain magic to being surrounded by people whom I bonded with across the miles, and to have them on my birthday…what better gift is there? What better gift can there ever be than to have my friends?

But land in SoCal I did, and first thing I did was get the first wristband. One quick talk with Bruce, and I run like hell to the Jazz Amphitheater for the first show: Euge Groove & Mindi Abair.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me just say this point blank: California knows its smooth jazz. If there is a shining example of a jazz fest that riles people up, that gets them dancing, that gets the energy sky-high – Newport Beach is it. I have not seen so many people pack a hotel with just the expectation of great music since I went out to Berks last year. To say that they have absolutely killed it is an understatement, completely. From the Euge’s newest Seven Large disc to Mindi’s tried-and-true Be Beautiful, there was never a dull moment with those two. The crowning jewel on that show was Euge’s tenor and Mindi’s voice on Grover’s Just the Two of Us. Euge’s mastery of soul-playing blends very nicely with the shade of soprano that Mindi’s singing happens to be.

… And at around that time, I went zonk. Yes, awake too long. Flying does that. :)

And soon to come, just wrapped, Day 2!