Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Week With Chick Corea: Part 4 -- Getting There

Table Of Contents
A Week With Chick Corea: Part 4
Chick’s first ever 5-day Master Workshop with John Patitucci (bass) and Antonio Sanchez (drums) held at Cranwell Resort in Lenox, MA from August 27 - 31, 2012

Getting There

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I flew Southwest Airlines on Saturday, August 25, 2012 from Portland, OR to Denver, CO where I changed planes and then flew the rest of the way to Hartford, CT.

Leaving Portland

I arrived close to midnight at Bradley International Airport and found a LazFly shuttle to take me to the La Quinta Inn, in Hartford, CT to crash before picking up my rental car the next day to drive to The Berkshires. *cough* *cough* -- I had to change rooms at the La Quinta because the first room they gave me reeked of cigarette smoke even though it was supposedly a non-smoking room. Apparently they put the non-smoking rooms directly above the smoking rooms and the smoke rises through the walls and ceiling into the rooms above. Not cool. The hallways reeked of stale smoke too. Oh well. They moved me to another non-smoking room on a smoking floor(!) but assured me that no one was smoking below me. I breathed a little easier once I got inside the new room.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The next day, I slept in after the long day of travel and three hour time difference jet lag and realized that they didn’t have a fitness room or gym (though I guess I could have gone to a nearby Gold’s Gym but decided to try delaying my workout till I got to my next hotel later that day). I also realized that I’d missed breakfast but by then it was time to catch a shuttle to Budget Rental Car to pick up my rental vehicle. The LazFly shuttle driver was a cool guy who was quite interested when he found out I was going to spend the week studying with Chick Corea. Had some good conversation with him on the ride to the rental car lot. The guy at the rental car front desk tried to hard sell me all sorts of upgrades and extra insurance. Got talked into a larger vehicle though since I knew I’d have luggage from three people the next day.

I drove from Hartford, CT to Lee, MA using my trusty GPS that I’d brought with me. Man, navigating strange new lands sure is easier these days. There were all sorts of detours on the drive to The Berkshires and back to Hartford the following weekend that would have gotten me totally lost with the printed directions I had and no good printed map at my disposal. The GPS was a lifesaver on several occasions this trip. I was slightly worried about using the toll roads (turnpikes?) on my route, but for some unknown reason, whenever I stopped to pay tolls, they just took my ticket and told me there was no charge. Don’t know if it was a special feature of the rental car that included the cost of the tolls, or maybe I just didn’t drive far enough to warrant a toll payment? Whatever. I was happy not to spend any more cash than necessary.

I arrived at the Super 8 in Lee, MA where I had reservations for the evening before the start of the workshop. I was starving since I hadn’t had lunch or breakfast, and since it wasn’t time to check-in yet, I wandered down to a cafe/deli down the street in search of some espresso and lunch. Apparently the East Coast is a little different than the Pacific Northwest, and I was sorely disappointed to realize they only had regular brewed coffee available and no espresso machine. But they had food and I needed the caffeine so I took what I could get, had lunch, and then headed back to the motel.

My reservation info said I could check-in as early as 3:00pm but my room wasn’t ready when I got there. I had wanted to try to work out before the Tanglewood concert that evening but they didn’t have a gym or fitness room either. They offered to let me use the staff restroom to change into my workout clothes, so I took them up on that and went for a long walk through town. Started receiving some Facebook chat messages from Scott Erichsen who was amazed I was out walking in the heat. It was warm and humid that week and he had just come from Australia where it was wintertime instead of summer. I got back from my walk, checked in to my room, showered, and changed for the concert. But the heat and humidity and recent physical activity left me drenched in sweat immediately, so I’m not sure my shower did any good.

I met Fernando Giuffrida and Scott Erichsen in the motel lobby around 5:30pm. To save some money, we decided to eat at a pizza joint down the street instead of paying the ridiculous prices to buy food at Tanglewood. Wow, those Tanglewood food prices were insane! Simple to-go sandwiches for the cost of a gourmet dinner at a fancy restaurant. The pizza joint had decent food but really slow service. We eventually got our food. I don’t remember the last time I ate with someone who was blind, though I remember I had a friend during college who was blind. Anyway, it was interesting to discover the challenges that eating can present to a blind person. The rest of us sighted people don’t realize how many things we take for granted.

After dinner, we drove a few minutes to Tanglewood, parked, and eventually found our way to Ozawa Hall with plenty of time to spare before the start of the concert. We were all sitting in separate seats but decided it would be easiest to meet up again at Scott’s seat after the show so he didn’t have to navigate a strange venue in a crowd of people.

I was psyched to see this show with Chick and Gary Burton plus the Harlem String Quartet. Chick and Gary’s album from the early 1980’s called Lyric Suite for Sextet is one of my all time favorite albums. Chick has written quite a bit of beautiful and interesting compositions and arrangements for string quartets over the years but rarely tours with a string quartet, so this was certainly a treat for me to hear and see that night. Plus, I’d heard about Tanglewood for years, but had never been there, so I was excited to finally see this mythical venue at long last.

Fun story: In an amazing coincidence, I ran into marimbist Mika (Yoshida) Stoltzman aka Mikarimba. She’s a great musician who has been performing recently with Steve Gadd and Eddie Gomez. She also is a huge Chick Corea and Gary Burton fanatic and even had the good fortune of having Chick write a piece for her to perform on marimba called “Marika Groove”. Here’s a preview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlM9l5zyI7A). She’s one of my random facebook musician friends and it was fun to see her and I was amazed she even recognized me as I walked past her to get something to drink before the concert and heard her yell out my name! BTW, I also ran into some of the other workshop attendees at the concert. It was fun to get to meet and see some of my new classmates!

Here’s a short promo video about the new Hothouse album with Chick Corea and Gary Burton:


Here’s some info on the concert we saw that night:

Featured Performers

AUG 26


Sunday, 8:00 PM

Chick Corea and Gary Burton Hot House Tour

with the Harlem String Quartet


Ozawa Hall Lenox MA

$19.00 - $63.00

Chick and Gary Burton perform material from their new album Hot House, exploring their unique takes on "standards" - by composers from Kurt Weill and Antonio Carlos Jobim to Thelonious Monk and Lennon & McCartney. The multiple Grammy-winning duo also adds the Harlem String Quartet, expanding their legendary chamber-jazz repertoire on Chick's composition "Mozart Goes Dancing" and classic Chick & Gary tunes.

Here’s a good review of the concert that evening:

However, that reviewer seems to think that Chick Corea is conservatory-trained. However, Chick only spent a few months in music school before dropping out. Chick is mostly self-taught but people don’t seem to realize that!

Here’s another review of sorts for that same show:
Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood
Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood
Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood
Chick Corea and Gary Burton
with the Harlem String Quartet
Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood

We drove back to the Super 8 in Lee, MA after the beautiful concert and agreed to meet for breakfast the next morning before heading over to The Cranwell Resort for the workshop registration.

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