summer 2007

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Summer 2007

Lienz, June 29
Couches, July 5th
Greifswlad, July 7th
Travel day,July 9th
Fribourg, July 17th
Birndisi,July 22nd
San Sebastian, July 26th
Eilat, August 26th till 29th
Orleans, June 30
Travel day, July 6th
Vitrolles, July 8th
Fribourg, July 18th
Travel day, July 25th
Gmunden, July 27th

Text: Ed Partyka
Fotos: Anna Lauvergnac


June 29th, Lienz - Stadtsaal AMERICAN DREAMS

After almost two weeks off, enjoying "normal" life and work (teaching, etc...) we were all starting to
get restless and it was time to get back on the road. Our meeting point was the small alpine town of
Lienz. On the journey there from Vienna we suffered several transportation set-backs, including Tobias
missing a train connection in Salzburg and our locomotive breaking down on the way from Vienna.
We ended up arriving quite late, with just enough time to get checked in to our hotels and have a
bite to eat before the soundcheck.












                                                                 The spectacular panorama around Lienz (Osttirol)

 Also on the train was jazz legend Lee Konitz and his new band, made up of american college students.
They were all on their first trip to Europe and it was cute to watch them try to come to terms with
the cultural differences and european prices ("Five bucks for a coke! - wait till I tell them back home
in Iowa") But since Lee is a legendary cheapskate, I guess they had to pinch every penny.
It was nice to see everyone again and hear sll the latest gossip going around. The band played a very
nice concert and then there was some extreme hanging, with a few unexpected people staying up all
night and talking about trumpet mouthpieces while drinking copious amounts of tequila. I also heard
unconfirmed rumours of a 3 a.m. swimming-pool and sauna party after one too many cocktails.


Devise by Adrian Mears 

Ladies and gentlemen, sit down and relax and get ready for the show of your life,
the most amazing extra-ordinary, scandalous, original, extraverted, extravagant band
of individuals your likely to meet for a long time, a very long time. In just a few
minutes time you yourself will be witness to this most transforming, miraculous,
mesmerising, meticulous, engulfing sound, filling your ears with the most amazing
sounds and colours and textures that the mind just boggles and searches for
something steady to hold on to, how can it happen! Brace yourself, sit up straight,
no relax, for it is time to unleash this most amazing, menacing, voluptuous ,
penetrating, power horse of ultimate artistic intentions, come, travel with us
on a musical journey, explode the corners of your mind, fly, sore with us to
the highest plateau of musical conquest, intimate converse with elaborated
and liberated soul secrets of serenity. I give now, in this moment of magic,
ladies and gentleman of Lienz, Osttirol, Austria.
The Vienna Art Orchestra. (Applause)


June 30th, Orléans - Festival AMERICAN DREAMS

Our hefty travel day began on Saturday at 7 a.m. with a 31/2 hour bus ride to the airport in Munich,
followed by our flight to Paris and another three hour bus ride to Orleans (of which almost an hour
was spent by our idiot bus driver trying to get out of the airport parking lot and on to the highway).
After driving for several hours he decided to take a short break at a rest stop without petrol station
or restaurant even though there was one 5 kilometers down the road. We staged a small revolt and
forced him to stop so we could get at least something small to eat and drink. He then tried to forbide
us from eating in the bus - what a total fuck-wit! 
We finally arrived and after a small amount of confusion while checking in to the hotels we were able
to have a bit of time to relax before going to the festival. 



                                                            The cathedral of (old) Orléans

The Konitz band was opening for us and we all went out to check them out. After the trombone player
couldn´t find the form (or beat one for that matter) in the first tune most of our band drifted back to
the catering area for desert or went to warm up. I heard a bit more of the nonet and there was some
nice writing, but the performance never really went anywhere and while it is nice to support young
musicians during their studies, Lee really should have hired some older professionals.


Our set went very well with the exception of problems during the vocal numbers, caused by Anna´s
not being able to hear the rhythm section in the monitors. It was also interesting to hear the soloists
- the guys who were up all night on Friday played the best! I know we are not supposed to be positive
about drugs and alcohol, but maybe there is something to the "jazz life" that adds a certain flavour
and energy to the music that doesn´t exist in the music of folks that never drink, smoke or have sex.


Yesterday was a travel day back home for another few days of normal life before our next block of
concerts and recordings that starts on the 5th. Thanks to Hans Mutschlechner in Lienz and Stephane
Kochoyan in Orleans for two great days and to Ronny and Michi for their wonderful technical support.



July 5th, Couches - Festival AMERICAN DREAMS




Another few days off and back on the road, this time to Paris and then onward by TGV to Couches
and the wonderful festival there.  After arrival we went to the venue for a soundcheck. The festival
people assured us that everything was set up, but when we got to the performance tent we found out
that it wasn´t the case. While Ronny & Michi hurried to get everything up-and-running we smoked and
drank coffee. After the check we had a couple of hours before dinner, which was used by most of the
band to catch up on sleep, since most of us had a very early start that morning.


                                                                                             the terrific audience of couches

Of course the catering and hospitality was wonderful (as it always is at french festivals) and we left for the
concert contentedly well fed and happy. The crowd was great again - we played Elington there a few years
ago - and it was a pleasure to perform for such an enthusiastic group of people. Afterward we hung out at
the beer/wine stand outside and listened to a very good brass new orleans style band play. Of course Adrian
jumped in and then as things slowed down Franck Tortiller took a few of the guys back to his place for a late
night wine tasting session that went on until almost 4 a.m.






                        Ed Partyka                                            Stefan Zimmermann                                  Dominique Stöger

July 6th, travel day to Berlin



                                                                                        CDG, not a very friendly airport

On Friday we had a travel day to Berlin, which ended in tragedy for one member of the band. The VAO is
well known for indulging quite heavily on travel days and Friday was no exception. Things kicked off at the
airport in Paris and continued with bloody mary´s on the flight. Most of the band congregated in a bar in
Kreuzberg and then back to the hotel bar for one last drink.




                                          Wine expert Harry Sokal with his gourmet orchestra in a spanish restaurant in Berlin, Kreuzberg



July 7th, Eldenaer Jazz Evenings, Greifswald - AMERICAN DREAMS




We are very proud to play as well for a young audience      The concert  was remouved to the sporthalle, due to haevy rain

On my way home I stopped for a late night kebap and even though it tasted a little funny I wolfed it down.
I awoke a few hours later feeling horrible and rushed to the toilet, where I spent the next several hours in
agony.  I realized there was no way I was going to be able to sit on a bus for four hours and play, so I decided
to stay at home in Berlin and join the band today when they come back through to fly to France this afternoon.
I´m still feeling dodgy but it´s a huge improvement over yesterday. I´m assuming that the band probably
sounded better without me anyway and half the guys probably didn´t even notice that I wasn´t there.


                                                 the amazing landscape of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, seen by Anna Lauvergnac


July 8th, Vitrolles/Marseille - Festival VISIONARIES & DREAMS

Today we fly to Marseille and perform at the cool festival there before flyong back to Vienna tomorrow
for the CD recording until Saturday.
I met back up with the band at the airport in Berlin and we flew to Marseille through Munich. The Novotel staff was rude and it took them forever to get our room keys organized. After an hour to chill out we headed for the soundcheck. A great open air venue under the trees in a park. Very nice to look at but difficult accoustically. After dinner we had another couple of hours back at the hotel before our late night start. A great accordian duo opened and we then performed program 3 (for the first time in over a month). We managed to remember most of it with only a couple of small problems and the duos all did a great job. Afterward there was the usual french wine and hotel bar hang.


our guys were catched by an anonymus fotographer






July 9th, travel day

Monday´s travel day should have been easy but things started to be weird at the airport. First,
the check-in process was really really really slow and the check-in counter girls rude as well.
Then the security screening was really really really really slow and the security people were rude.
Then they packed over 100 people on to a bus made for half that amount and were really really
really really really rude about it. Sometimes you really have to wonder about certain aspects of
France and French organization. It´s always a pleasure to play at French festivals because the
audiences and festival organizers (and don´t forget the catering) are always fantastic BUT g
etting there and back are always a huge hassle because of unfriendly and unorganized airport,
hotel and airline staff.

When we got to Munich someone asked Lufthansa ground staff about our Mile & More miles from
the flights and after looking into the system it was discovered that the french staff had not booked
any of our miles. Soo the very friendly gal in Munich went though and booked all of our miles in
while we waited for the flight to Vienna.

Our next stress factor occured after arrival in Viena when it was announced that our luggage didn`
make the connecting flight. Once again, ground staff in Vienna was great, but it was the second
time on the tour that they missed getting our luggage to us. A bad trend for the Star Alliance?
We finally got our bags after midnight but this stuff is highly annoying.

Today we start rehearsals for our new CD recording. We will be in Vienna all week working on
"All That Strauss 2", to be released in time for New Year´s Eve and our planned tour to Japan
in 2008. Any concert organizers or promoters in Japan that are interested in booking "All That Strauss"
for concert venue please get in touch with the office soon, as our tour schedule for Jan. and Feb.
is getting quite full already. The band is really looking forward to the trip to Japan and is thrilled
because you can smoke everywhere in public there and eat excellent food day and night (I won´t
even mention the sake and great Japanese beers...)

We´ll see if anything interesting happens this week, if not we´ll be back next week with a report
from Switzerland. Take care and be careful out there!


Recording diary and fotos by Rob Bargad

VAO Recording diary: Porgy & Bess, Vienna – 10-14 July, 2007


Day 1 Tuesday 10 July

12 noon at Porgy’s  – met Jörg the engineer and Natalie the editor and Martin the asst. engineer - 

the recording crew. With them I will sit in the Porgy’s basement recording studio for the next 5 days.

I get set up at my little desk behind the mixing console. I have a pile of scores and of course nothing

to write my notes on. … must buy a writing pad. Mathias begins rehearsing MELK – our first piece.

Little trumpet solo at the end… ok. Jürg and Martin setting levels, etc. More rehearsing – Furioso Polka,

Chineser Galopp – I’m checking solos and cues. The scores are hard to read for me – not so AABA

and a shout chorus like I’m used to… must get the solo cues right for Jörg. I suggest more percussion

in the swing sections – the band is not really into swing congas – but I think about a more ethnic

touch to contrast Mathias orchestral style. Also tell Mario that maybe a rim crack on 4 is not a

bad idea. It works. Claudia the catering lady is so nice – and Mathias’ daughter Naima is helping out.

Also his wife, Eva and Jelena. We eat – faschierte Laibchen (or frikadelle – I don’t dare call them

hamburgers – ok, little meat loafs) with potato puree. Hank brought super hot sauce from France,

and Moroccan harissa. I said I would make some of my homemade chili puree for tomorrow… after

lunch I sit with Henk and Mario and Andy across the street at the Carinthian restaurant. I order

coffee – not as good as the Italian next door – and a strudel –  its not fresh and warmed in the

micro – that restaurant is no good - they cook with no love. I won’t go there again. Then back

for more rehearsing, test recording – we talk about Hammond organs in the booth – I’m trying

to buy 3 from the States, but I’m still waiting for my credit (bank loan) money… The crew thinks

I’m crazy to buy 3 organs and I am. I ask Mario if the crack would work on 2 instead of 4 – I know

he’s not into it… We record Radetzky minus one for Jurai. Meet at 12 tomorrow for rhythm section,

at 1 for the band.


Jürg Peterhans, master engeneer from Switzerland -
working since 20(!)years with us.


Rob Bargad, terrific piano player from
the States, living in Vienna

































Day 2 Wed. 11 july

I wake up and shop for onions and carrots and make 6 jars of hot sauce. Drive to Porgy and  buy a

notebook. Coffee at 12:30 with the crew across the street at the Italian restaurant. Italians don’t

serve water with coffee – I’m sure they think it’s silly. Jörg asks about the Hammonds I bought –

his standard question is – are they in the air yet? I’m still waiting for the money to pay for them.

We go down and start to fix the rhythm section levels… band comes in  - We record the Fledermaus

Overtüre – beautiful clarinet solo from Niko, and sweet solo spots from Andy, Henk and Jurai.

Tobi monstrous on lead. We rehearse and record Radetzky Marsch – I’m missing ALL the cues,

still learning how to read the scores… but Jürg is patient with me. Mario puts the crack on 2

after all. Perfect. Nathalie is a great editor – flawlessly fixing parts on the computer, etc.

Lunch is really nice Beef Goulasch (Hank says his is better) with Spaetzle. I brought my hot

sauce, and the kitchen has piri-piri and sambal – I guess we have enough hot-chili options…

 we get good versions recorded of  Melk, Chineser Gallop, Overtüre – Jurai RIPS the trumpet solo –

great.  Great performances from all soloists – Adrian on Chinese…. These guys are amazing

musicians. Tobi plays his hip-hop piece for us on the house system, then dj’s the best r&b as

usual… Marianne Mendt visits the set… offers me to write an arrangement for one of her

young singers. Nice. Also Sabine and the dogs – Mario has a “discussion” with the dogs. Hilarious.




Leadkiller Tobi                                                  Christoph Pepe Auer, for the first time in the band                   Jurai



Day 3 Thurs. 12 july

Nadine arrives at my place at 8:30. Our date at divorce court is at 10:00. Before 11:00 we are

divorced. Sad but true. But all good.  Again Italian coffee across from Porgy’s to start the day…

Hammond update – I got the money transferred, but still its difficult to send the money – troubles

now with Paypal … my payment is late and one of the sellers is not happy. Blah blah… we record

good versions of Hungarian dance – Robert plays great… Tobi killing on lead as usual. Liebelle  -

Hank puts on the blues touch. Perfect. Wiener Blut and Furioso polka  - Harry is killing of course –

they both need some editing – I left out one section of one of the edited pieces – can’t remember

now… tbut we put it in later. Nice that Matthias trusts Natalie and me to put things together.

I’m still fighting for more percussion. Matthias asks to adjust soloist volumes – and watching

woodwind doubles so they are not lost in trumpets or soloists. Lunch is CHICKEN SURPRISE I

call it – fricassee I guess. Asian flavors, rice. More hot sauce. TIRAMISU – delicious.

More recording… I take the scores and a cd home to study for the run through tomorrow.



                                       Hank                                                                    Christiane & Mario



Day 4 Friday the 13th! July

No coffee date today – Nathalie is outside porgy with her family. Nice.  I wait 20 minutes for a

parking space. New Asst. engineer – Christof… We start with the intro to Wiener Blut – Thomas

Gansch and Joris and Strasser record 2 versions – the second kind of dirty, bluesy – the better

one I think. Matthias also likes it. Then the rhythm section for the intro to Liebesliede Waltzer…

it’s a violin feature – he records later – so we work on the groove and percussion etc. I suggest

more bells in the groove – works fine. Ingrid is playing great. She could PLAY MORE!!! Natalie and

 I edit some things, make a version – listening… recording liebesliede – we leave spaces for the

violin solos. Listening. Lunch is fish with garlic and rosemary – parsley potatoes, tomato salad –

good cheesecake, fruit for dessert. We get the order for the run through – Mathias wants to

re-record the endings for Chineser Galopp and Liebelle – we do Chineser Galopp – ok. Then Jürg

goes for coffee but I forgot to tell him we still need to record a Leebelle ending so we have to

find him while the band waits. Not so nice on run-through day. But no problem. We fix Liebelle –

Hank plays another nice ending. Short break and Jörg and I check cues and instrument changes…

I put my scores in order. Call quick to Cincinnati about shipping the first Hammond – yay. And

the other sellers are ok now to wait for their money. I will have 3 Hammonds this summer. Nice.


People arrive for the run through. We set up in the booth. The performance is great. Mathias likes

3 versions from the live recording – I remember Furioso, Hungarian, and Leebelle... There’s a hang

after but I don’t stay long. Must wash clothes, sleep, be back tomorrow at 2 for final listening and

edits with Mathias and the crew…




     Hans with his family                                                   Jürg and Natalie                         Marianne Mendt & Jelena



Day 5 Saturday 14 July

Italian coffee of course, say hello to Christain Salfellner is there. VERY quiet in Porgy’s. Just Mathias,

Eva, Jelena, Jörg, Natalie and Christof, a new asst. Hank comes by to get his horns and hangs out.

We fix Liebeslieder Walzer, Radetzky. Good to work a bit with Mathias in the studio – hear more

about his writing ideas, etc. In Lebeslieder we figured out that there was some bottom missing –

bass trombone and baritone. Ed’s powerful sound giving that punch and more Hank on baritone

made the section clearer. We cut the song… fine. Finished. Mathias goes home and the rest of

us eat pistachios and talk while Natalie burns the final cd’s. The band goes on tour again Tuesday.


Thanks to Mathias Rüegg and the band for the great music. Thanks to Hank Gradischnig for

recommending me for the gig. Thanks to Claudia, Eva, Naima and Jelena for the food and

love and care. Thanks to Jürg and Natalie and Martin for their skills and patience and

for my Hammond psycho-sessions.


Rob Bargad – July 2007





July 17th  Fribourg, Jazz Parade - AMERICAN DREAMS 

Let´s see now, we left off last week after our return from France. We were in Vienna recording from
the 9th until the 13th. We have a great "All That Strauss Vol. II" in the works, and the band did an
excellent job navigating through mathias´s difficult arrangements. Then it was a couple of days off
for most of the guys. Dominik and myself were off to the North Sea Festival to perform with the Bob
Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra and several band members used the down time to catch up on their
hobbies (gardening and model ship building) and visit loved ones back home. Others decided to
tune-out and still others did naughty things that I can´t tell you about here.



                                                         Welcome to Switzerland
Our next meeting point was very early on Tuesday morning at the airport for our flight to Zürich at
6:55 a.m.  After our safe arrival in Zürich we travelled onward by train to Fribourg, in the french part
of Switzerland. Upon arrival theuptight hotel clerk informed us that we would have to wait three hours
for our rooms to be ready! This elicited a very rude and grumpy response from the band (since we´d
already been up since 4 a.m.) and after a bit of sweet talk from mathias suddenly the rooms became
miraculously available. After a very nice lunch we all crashed out to catch up up on our lost hours
of sleep from the night before.  Soundcheck and dinner were fine and thena few more hours off
while waiting for our very late strat time (23:00).




                                                                    Welcome to Fribourg and the Jazz Parade

The Fribourg Jazz Orchestra opened the concert with Lew Soloff as their guset artist. The band and
Lew played great, but the sound was horrible and distracted from the concert. The band also played
too long, but so do most opening acts.


                                                                           Welcome to Lew Soloff

Our set was plagued by small fuck-ups in time and coordination. The stage set-up was not so great,
with the horns too far away from the drums, wchich led to the band losing a beat (or three) during
the course of the concert. Tobias perfromed both programs from memory because he forgot the
music at home in Cologne. he actuall ymade less mistakes than some of the guys who had their music!
Congrats to Toby for his great work!!!




                                                 And welcome to the band


Strange comment from an unknown person:
u know
u are not superstars
so u should show more respect to other
u guys sucks as persons
just play and shut the fuck up
hope to never meet you again

anita tikita []
Fr 20.07.2007 01:12



July 18th  Fribourg, Jazz Parade - EUROPEAN VISIONARIES 
Wednesday was spent sleeping, in the sauna, or in the old part of the city. We had a mid-afternoon
"European Visionaries" rehearsal and then time to chill out before our performance. The opening band
was an excellent group built around Thierry Lang and four Celli. They started on time, played great
and didn´t play too long - true Profi´s!!!





                                                                                                    Never follow a band leader!
Our set went surprisingly well considering the fact that we hadn´t played Program II in over a month.
The audience was better than Tuesday and the weather was a bit cooler. Afterward there was
drinking and even dancing in the hotel bar and since we had a late flight back to Vienna on Thursday,
most of the band went swimming during the afternoon before going to the airport.
                                               The lovely and peaceful audience of Fribourg
Now we have a day off before travelling to Italy tomorrow for a weekend in Brindisi at the jazz
festival there. I´ll try to send a report from there, if not I´ll be back on Monday with news of the
weekend´s activities.




                                                                   HAT ART (name of a former record company of the VAO)


Cher Mathias Rüegg,

J’étais à Fribourg pour European Visionaries. C’est la troisième fois que j’ai eu l’immense plaisir
de vous voir jouer. La première fois, c’était à Bienne (Centenary Journey) et la deuxième à
Willisau (Big Band Poesie). Une fois de plus, la soirée d’hier fut un enchantement de tous les instants.
(A Matthieu: Du beau son avec Titi aussi. Bravo) Je joins à ce petit message une copie d’une
petite chronique que j’ai faite pour le site (l’occasion aussi de commander "Tango..."). 
Je l’ai un peu corrigée avant de vous l’envoyer. J’espère ne pas avoir écrit trop de bêtises.
J’espère également que vous m’enverrez un petit Feedback et que dans un certain avenir,
je puisse bénéficier de votre enseignement, qui sait... :-) Humbles salutations (et bises à mon
illustre et adorable professeur de trompette)

Denis Tercier



July 22nd, Brindisi  Visonaries & Dreams

Just arrived back at my second home in Berlin after three flights and 1365.2 kilometers in about 8 hours.
We left the great port city of Brindisi this morning at 5 a.m. after performing there last night. We had
to leave because there was no more red wine, grappa, seafood or gelato left in the whole city after our
36 hour stay. The fishermen are back out at sea as we speak and more wine is being imported from other
parts of Italy to replenish stocks.
The venue was a pleasent open air stage which was put into order by several hours of hard work i
n the hot sun by Ronny & Michi yesterday afternoon while we were at the beach and/or asleep. thanks guys!




                                                                             The stage and the view around: very italien!


Our hosts were also terrific and very friendly, as was the nice crowd on hand for the concert.
It wasn´t really a "jazz" crowd, but they enjoyed the music. There was a bit of street festival
groove to the whole thing, and not the militant jazz festival/street fair/fenced-in compound of
Fribourg. There were all types of folks milling about and whole families out for an evening of music
under the stars and fun. It was refreshing to have little kids running around and the band played
in a very relaxed and swinging manner because of the nice vibe. My personal favorites were
Andy & Joris, and the crowd went wild over their country-folk Anna & Nico.



                                                                   The food and the ambience: very italien!!
As mentioned, we had an early start and got one last chance to fly with Alitalia Airlines before
they go bankrupt. The Italian government has been trying to find a buyer to no avail, and after
four flights with them it is understandable. The planes are old and rundown, technically frightening, t
he service is not very good and the whole vibe just isn´t happening. A bit of a pity, but also a
chance for something good to come out of the ashes of another huge government-owned monopoly
that didn´t change with the times and missed the boat, so to speak.




                                                                                                     The audience: very italien!!!
Now we have another day off before the last few concerts in July. We are off to San Sebastian in
Spain on Wednesday and back to Austria on Friday for a last few bottles of red wine before returning
to our homes for a well-deserved three week long detox break before Israel. we also have to recharge
our batteries for the long fall tour, starting October 12th. mathias should have the dates up soon.
By the way, the Strauss Asia tour is starting to come together nicely. We still need a few concert
dates in Japan to fill the schedule, so please, any promoters in Japan that are interested should get
in touch with the office ASAP. Many of the band members have never been to Japan and are really
excited about the opportunity to visit and perform in your incredible country.
I think it was great of mathias to post the critical e-mail from an obviously drunk "fan". We´ve been
talking amongst ourselves the last couple of days and some of the guys think that maybe I´ve been
a bit too hard in some of my statements lately. I´ve gone back and reviewed a few of the past TD´s
and actually, I´ve mellowed out in my old age. I didn´t think I needed to repeat my normal disclaimer
this time around, but in case you are reading these diary entries for the first time here goes:
The VAO Tour Diary is an uncensored account of a big band´s life on the road, both good and bad.
We try to tell it like it is, and if a hotel, airline, waitress, bartender or other "service industry" employee
or company treats  like shit we will mention it here. If an opening band plays too long at a festival or
if a hyped jazz artist doesn´t live up to the hype we will write about it and post pictures/videos/recordings. 
We also talk about our own misbehavior, so if you are the spouse of a band member, you may not
want to read the diary too closely (I do change some names to protect the guilty).


                                                   The autor of the tour diary: very Ed!!!!

If you don´t like it, you don´t have to read it and  maybe you should join the Britney Spears fan club instead: 
We assume that our "fan" is probably referring to the negativity expressed towards the Konitz Nonet.
We greatly respect Lee as a jazz legend, but this version of the nonet just isn´t happening. I´ve
talked to a few friends to find out some more information. Maybe the band had a bad night, it can happen.
I spoke to two concert promoters that have recently had the band and both were of our opinion.
I also spoke to someone who played with the band not too long ago and this person was much more
negative than even I was. Please remember, we are on the road this year more than any other large
ensemble (world-wide) and we hear lots and lots and lots of bands live. We have some pretty heavy
cats in our ranks who have played and/or studied with some of the top masters of the art form.
We are not trying to be arrogant. We are out playing our asses off each and every night and once again
- If you don´t dig it, you can always surf here instead: 
or if you are really feeling perverted: 
If our "fan" was offended by something else we did, let us know so we can rectify the situation
as soon as possible. 
Have a nice day and we´ll report from Spain on Wednesday!


July 25th, travel day

Whew, what a way to end the summer tour! The last few days were a whirlwind of ups/downs,
highs/lows, ins/outs.
 A literal rollercoaster of emotions, feelings and sensations. I really don´t know
where to begin so I guess I´ll start at the beginning...
                                             To be on tour means to be on holidays?? Ask Mario:
After having a day off to recover from Italy we were back at the airport early Wednesday morning
for our flight to Spain via Düsseldorf.  At the airport the  first problems started to arise. Due to a
programming change at the festival in San Sebastian mathias made the decision to play Program 2
instead of Program 3. He sent everybody and SMS and e-mail but at least one person (Adrian) didn´t
read their e-mail all the way through and didn´t have the music to Program 2. As this was mentioned,
someone else realized that they left their music for Program 1 and their concert clothes at home in
Amsterdam (Joris)!  Joris quickly called his parents and had them send his music via DHL and Adrian
decided to try to reconstruct  his parts from the scores and second trombone parts. This panic aside,
we made it  to the beautiful sea-side town of San Sebastian in time for a swim and a wonderful dinner.
July 26th, San Sebastian - European Visionaries
Thursday was spent exploring the beach, swimming pool and shops. Of course we had a soundcheck
as well - it isn´t all fun and games!



                                                               The very romantic Plaza de la Trinidad in Donostia
There were well over 2500 people at the great open-air venue to hear the spectacular Marcus Miller
band that had the first slot on the program. They grooved their asses off! Great! Great! and really
really GREAT!!!
                                  Marcus Miller
Of course this put us into a not-so great position.  What can a big band with an
intellectually challenging and subtle program do to keep the energy level up after such an onslaught
of funk? We did our best but as we played the audience thinned out considerably. At the end there
were still almost a thousand very enthusiastic people left to cheer us on, but it was still difficult to
keep our motivation high while watching the exodus between numbers. Ronny also had a hard time
as the channels of the mixing desk started to go out one after the other. First he lost Nico, then
several of the drum channels. Thank god this happened at the end of the show. by the time we
got back to the hotel it was almost 1 a.m. and some of us went to sleep while others decided it
wasn´t worth it and headed off to the bar to spend the wee small hours of the morning.
July 27th,Gmunden - American dreams
Our 6:30 a.m. departure was a bit late because a couple of folks were late getting back to their own
rooms. We also found out that there was an accident during the night, with Hank dropping a chair on
to Stephan´s brand new laptop, destroying the screen. This was a bad omen for the start of a
very hard travel day...
Our flight to Munich was uneventful, but then the trouble started. Mario, Tobias and myself got out
of the terminal and into the train to Munich central station quickly. We had time to buy tickets and
calculated that we would have time to grab some lunch when we got to the station. The rest of the
band wasn´t so lucky - Because they were a bit slower they were pressed for time and the decision
was made to get on the train withour buying tickets. On these regional trains (S-Bahn) you are required
to buy your ticket and it is based on the honour system: There are spot checks by undercover train
conductors and if you don´t have a ticket you have to pay a hefty fine. Of course because Mario,
Tobias and myself bought tickets we weren´t checked BUT because the rest of the band didn´t,
they were - Murphy´s Law!



mathias was able to talk his way out of paying the fine (for the whole group) but everybody had to get
out of the train and buy a ticket at the next stop. This led to the group´s arrival at munich startion at
13:23 with our train´s departure scheduled for 13:26. It is about a seven minute walk from the "S-Bahn"
to the long distance trains.
We informed the train conductor and they were able to hold the train for a couple of minutes while
 the whole band made a mad dash through the crowded station to get to our track on time. Of course
once everyone got in and the train left the station we realized that Jurai didn´t make it - He got lost
and left behind in Munich!
An alternative transportation option was being worked out for Jurai when the next problem came up.
We had four compartments reserved for the band but when the guys informed a passenger that he
had to move out of the reserved compartment he refused. He was from New Zealand and didn´t
understand the German system (or he was from New Zealand and one of his parents was a sheep).
He got quite unpleasant and even when the conductor came he still refused to move. Finally when
confronted with 10 angry VAO members he reluctantly left and cursed his way out of the car.

A man’s on a driving holiday in New Zealand when he sees a man standing by the road gripping a sheep.
’G’day’ says the tourist. ’Are you shearing?’ ’No, piss off and find your own.’

Then as we changed trains in Salzburg the next problem came up. Stephan realized that his suitcase
was missing. Our train conductor called the other train and they were able to quickly find the suitcase,
which will be sent to Stephan´s house. Thanks god and thanks to the Austrian National Railway! Of
course this didn´t do anything for Mr. Zimmermann´s nerves, which were already shot by the destruction
of his laptop and the other trials and tribulations of the last few weeks. Ingrid really helped out and was
able to calm him down and take care of everything with her great diplomatic abilities.



                                                              The sold out concert at Toscana,Gmunden

After the almost 12 hour trip we finally made it to the lakeside resort town of Gmunden in the stunning
"Salzkammergut" region of Austria. We had enough time for a quick shower  (and ice cream) before
leaving for the venue. A short soundcheck and great devise by Ingrid and we were off and running.
Once again the band proved that it plays best after exactly such stressful and difficult travel days.
The night before we were well rested, well fed and not stressed out at all and played so-so but on
Friday the band was totally cooking after the day from hell. Music is pretty weird sometime.
The ensemble playing was very tight and soloists were all outstanding. The audience was also great
and the organizer told mathias that it was the biggest crowd they´ve ever had for a big band concert -
even bigger than when the Count Basie Orchestra performed!





                                       "Gisela", Europe’s oldest steam boat from 1871 still touring on the lake of Gmunden

Afterward there was a nice reception thrown by the organizers and then it was off into the nightlife 
of Gmunden to celebrate the end of the summer tour and the beginning of a well-earned vacation.
There were many drinks and much frivolity (as well as quite a few hang overs on Saturday morning)
and we were all totally exhausted when we arrived back in Vienna in the afternoon. Some of us went
on to the airport for flights home and others went home to family and friends.  Now I am in my normal
post-tour daze. I´ll need a few days to re-adjust to the normal world and I´m already looking forward
to our next concerts at the end of August and the tour in October.

Thanks to mathias for the incredible music and the incredible planning and thanks to all of our
great fans who support the orchestra and who support this wonderful music we call jazz.



                                                                                 The beauty and the beast



                                                                                                                 And last but not least:





 august 26th, travel day to Eilat,  by Hannes Strasser  


After a one month’s break, the band met again early in the morning at the
Viennese airport, waiting for the plane to
Tel Aviv. Non locals had to take early flights to make it to
Vienna in time.  Despite the totally overcrowded airport,  the uncompareable spirit
of this band of superb players as well as human beings, was in the air once again. Heartfull welcomes,
everybody in good shape, fresh and reloaded!  Many of the guys and girlsdidn’t have holidays at all.
They were involved in different musical projects, performing and recording with their own
projects or writing while others painted their flats. Only a few enjoed the spirit of summer with families and friends.

The plane to Tel Aviv was fully booked, which led to the unpleasant fact that there were mostly only
middle-seats left over for us poor jazz musicians.(a mere ergonomic tragedy for Ronnie and Michi our to

XXXL-sized technicians and Robert our fine tromboneplayer).

Mathias whereas was the lucky one on this flight. Beeing checked in  erraticly on a wrong name at
first, they had  to rebook him into business class!




Arriving in Tel Aviv three and a half hours later, we had to wait quite some time for our luggage,
which strained the nerves of the many smokers  in our band including my humble addicted self.
But there was still enough time left over afterwards, to fill up our nicotine depots, have some drinks
before beeing carried to another terminal for our next plane to Eilat. Extensiv security checking there,
very young ladies in uniform acting absolutely tough and impressivly serious.  

We met drummer Billy Hart, bassist Cecil McBee, pianist Phil Markowicz and the whole Band Incognito,
which arrived from russia. We met a lot more of great Jazzplayers in our hotel later.

The small old plane to Eilat was quite a scary surprise, promising some special features which you
would rather prefer in an amusement park. All promises were fullfilled on our one hour
flight over Jerusalem the Dead Sea. The endless looking Negev Desert leading to the most
southern port-town of Israel at the Red Sea


                                                              a hot welcome in Eilat



Getting off the plane in Eilat at 8 30 p.m. was a climatic shock to all of us. The outside temperature
was 38° Celsius in dry desert air(average rain per year:2 mm!!!). Everybody longed to be brought to
their climatized hotelrooms asap.

Our first impression of the whole festivalorganisation was a highly professional one, nice welcome,
very good all inclusive hotel with a large pool area, spicy  oriental koscher food from the buffet.

The irritating factor however  were the very young waiters: Although a lot of them around none of
them didn’t seem to be sure what he was in charge of.  We couldn’t really figure out why it took
them more than 40 minutes to bring us our drinks for the meal. Same procedure at the bar- a true
miracle. During our stay it got a little bit better and we developed our

individual strategies to get our drinks in time or simply drank water.

The ones of us who didn’t go to bed early, after a long travel day, were served  by Tobi’s Laptop
with some really funny Loriot Videos—great fun at the Pool Terrace.Thanks Tobias!


august 27th, Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love

The day started with a real delicious israely breakfast.
Early in the morning Harry and Stefan our experienced divers for many years, took the chance for an
extensiv diving excursion in the magnificent red sea, one of the most beautiful diving resorts on the
planet.  Harry, being a Masterscubadiver with nearly 400 divings within the last 18 years in regions
like the Galapagos, Maledives, Cocos and other beautiful places encouraged Ingrid and Michi to  join
them for doing a refreshing dive.
Mario, Adrian, Nico, Anna, Dominic  me and some other guys enjoyed the beach next to the hotel ,
snorcheling and watching the beautiful colored fish in the water in a more laid back manner. Mathias
checked out the Underwater Observatory.
Due to the 42°  some guys didn’t leave the protective hotel area, ocassionaly hanging  round pool
trying to make it up to the six liters of liquid per day you need in this dry desert climate and eating
melones. The devastated rest of us relaxed in their climatized rooms.
The stage were we performed
was located right in the harbour with a marvelous view out to the Red Sea, the desert mountains of
Jordania on the horizon and a full moon arising behind those.











                                                             the hottest sound check ever

As nice and relaxed the day was for me until now, - it should all turn around 180° at the soundcheck.
The double bass – a too new looking romanian factory instrument  which was provided by the festival
was completely tuned down. I guess due to the high temperatures.
In my effort to bring it back in tune, the tailpiecerope which carries the whole tension
of the strings tore apart from the endpin. Big shock! The band had to do the soundcheck without me while
I and a guy from the staff were struggling in the back trying to fix this problem.
At the end of the  bassless sound check the problem seemed to be solved, but my nerves
were lying naked . The pick up couldn’t be attached properly which led to an uneven sound. A new problem
I had to solve while playing.Cecil Mc Bee to whome I talked later also told me he
really had to struggle his way through the gig.






 an unconventional dressing room, but at least with air condition


Here is my good advise to the f estival organizers: Please make sure the basses are checked by some
real professional bass players before. Only they know how an Instrument should be set up porperly,
not the guy who sells or rents it.
The devise once again was done by Adrian supporting by myself singing the Bassline behind his soulful gospel song  



Having the pleasure beeing the opening act for the Festival the venue was packed with a good 3000 people
when we performed Duke Ellingtons music. The warm welcome of the beautiful israeli audience  helped us
ignoring some acoustic problems on stage(rhythmsection was too far away from the horns) and the wind
which was blowing our musicsheets away. We bravely made it through the gig, according too the overwhelming
applaus we got the audience seemed to like the music lot. There were of course again some great solos
although this sure wasn’t our best performance and the amount of stupid mistakes due to the circumstances
was unfortunately  too high. Mario and I, wearing the tuxedojacket throuhout the whole performance showed
true professional „contenance“ even in a desert climate.
Although the evening meal at the hotel was excellent again,
it couldn’t really brighten up our slightly depressed mood.
I went to bed before midnight to recover my nerves and to pray for a better instrument for the next day. 
I have only few informations what my bandmates did during night, but some enjoyed a few glasses of red wine
at the pool terrace while others went to see/hear Incognito playing after midnight.

august 28th, European Visionaries

                                                                                         Mario Gonzi & Billy Hart

The day started again with a great israeli breakfast (the most important meal in israel I was tought) 
with lots of tasty salads, cheeses, fruits, fish and a lot more of healthy koscher food. It seemed to
be sort of irritating for some of us what to start with and  also when to finish.
Mario tried to organize for us an excursion to see the dolphins but unfortunately it was fully booked
for the next two days.Decision was clear to go to the beach instead checking out the small coral riff next
to the hotel beach. I unknowingly got into a protected area with an amazingly underwaterview on all kinds
of coloured funny looking fish which got me so involved that I didn’t hear the guard through the
loudspeaker calling me toget out.
Harry and Michi  really went for it on this second day. Although the diving teacher wouldn’t want to allow
at first, Harry managed to convince the guy for getting the permission to dive to a wreck  27 meters
under sea level. So they did, exploring the unkown scenery down at the bottom of craddle of our culture,
viewing animals never seen before and artefacts of an ancient culture dating back a long time. While
Michi stayed outside the wreck Harry went right into it .You could hear all these  uncompareable impressiones
in Harry’s „Newton“ solo at the concert breaking all laws of gravity with ease.




                                                                   our professional divers Harry and Michael

We had to play „Visionaries“ in our second concert in Eilat. At the sound check the first good news
was another bass which was in much better condition. Also we found our individual strategies how
to deal with the wind problem. Mathias made the decision to play the classical interludes which would
give us time to organize our charts with the clips in between.Before our concert some of us went to
see the three tenors Joe Lovano, DaveLiebman, Ravi Coltrane with Phil Markowitz, Cecil and Billy Hart.
Nico with his italian charme managed  surprise a couple of securities  and our folks could
pass 400 waiting people without any problem. It was highly inspiring to hear those giants play.
The very nice and positively motivating devise by mathias before the concert cooled down our doubts and the
insecurities from yesterday’s performance. We were ready to go for a „hot“ performance.
And it really was a great concert, I think one of the best we did with this program. Everybody was highly
concentrated and motivated  to show his best sectionwise and within their solos.  There was no
glimpse of a chance for the wind to disturb us and the bass was working ok.  We had 2000 people in the
audience. Parallel to us Steps Ahead was playing. 
After the concert Anna, mathias, Tobi, Ed and Joris stayed around the Festival listening  to "Incognito",
Conrad Herwig’s Latinband - and having a good time with a good deal of drinks, enjoying the good mood
after a nice gig at a great festival. Some had  a little flirt with one of the beautiful waitresses from
our hotel hanging there too.Harry had a serious saxophone talk with Joe Lovano at the hotel bar ,
Adrian socialized with Conrad Herwig and we other guys tried to get our beers in time from our meanwhile 
nearly perfect bartender.The evening (or morning) ended  for the rest of us in the nearby
American bar. I was blessed with some nice red wine design on my white trousers
created by the incompareable, highly artistic gesticulation skills of a baritonplayer called Hank.
Remarkable „American bar“ story:
Jurai to the young waitresses:“How long have you  open?“
Waitress: „One week!“
Jurai: „ No, I mean tonight“
Waitress: „We have open since one week and we don’t know when to close!“


                                                                                                                                      only the lonely..

august 29th, travel day        

Before we got picked up by the bus at 09.45 some of us went to the beach or to the pool for a brief
refreshing swim after a short night.
 The flight from Eilat to Tel Aviv was easy. Now in the day light
one could could see the dimensions of the desert underneath.

Lots of security checks expected us at the Tel Aviv airport. At first little problems with our hand luggage
and all the horns to bring on
the plane but by distributing them to the non-hornplayers we overcame it. 

Flight back to Vienna was calm and relaxed.Nico and Anna had to hurry to catch the connection flight to Italy. 

All in all the trip to Eilat was really great for the band. We were in illustrous company of great Artists like
Mike Manieries "Steps Ahead",
Thomas Stanko, Conrad Herwig’s great Latin Band, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman,
Ravi Coltrane celebrating John Coltranes music, Birelli Lagrene
and others who all made there musical marks in the last decades. Unfortunately, I guess due to the climate no one of us made it to a jam session. Lovano, and the
cats jammed till about
05.00 in the morning on monday I heard. Next time we will be there too.   
Another remarkable event was being invited by 4(!) ministers to a welcome-cocktailparty. This shows quite
a bit about the standing jazz enjoys in Israel. I wonder if this could happen within an Austrian jazz festival.

The festival with its 4 Stages in the harbour area was perfectly organized.Thanks to Dan Gottfried, the
artistic director of the Red Sea Jazzfestival.
We really enjoyed our stay in Eilat and performing for a wonderful audience. Would be nice to come back some time!





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