Justin Stanton at the North Sea Jazz Festival
Because of the exchange rate and the high price of internet service in Europe (10 euros for 14 minutes, almost a buck a minute), the postings from the One O’Clock Lab Band’s tour through Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy have been thin the past several days. The Art&Seek Blog has been following the University of North Texas jazz group on its European invasion, via freelance photographer and UNT student Michael Climents’ photo postings on Flickr and some of the blog posts from band member/trombonist Sara Jacovino.
But then boom — reports from the Netherlands, Amsterdam and the North Sea Jazz Festival. Check them out on the jump.
Posted by Sara Jacovino.
Today we made yet another long drive in Peirre Luigi’s autobus— this time from Ruddesheim, Germany to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The band departed from the hotel at a rather early hour and therefore everyone was tired and eager to sleep on the bus. This trip afforded us plenty of time: at least 6 hours (consisting of castles and at least one hour of people not knowing when to be quiet). In retrospect, 6 hours is a very brief amount of time considering that we drove to an entirely different country (the 4th in a week!).
We arrived in Rotterdam around 2 in the afternoon -just before our sound check at 3 for our gig at 4.The venue is an off-festival stage of the North Sea Festival, located right on the banks of the Rhine. Unfortunately, just as we started playing, it started raining– this is not uncommon for Rotterdam, apparently it rains over half of the days. Although the audience became soaked, the band was kept dry under a great band shell/tent/tarp. The band took full advantage of the radio truck that was there to record us. We produced a pretty great live recording! The response was good from the people who actually stuck around through all of the rain. Let me tell you, we played a burning set (higher, faster, louder).
The rest of the day provided the band with free time to explore the city. I ended up at this great Indonesian restaurant named Bazaar— some great ethnic food, although I’m not really sure what I ate–some type of meat, I’m sure.
Some general observations about Rotterdam in general:
1. The language, Dutch seems endlessly complicated. It is also strange because my honest first reaction to the language is that a Dutch person speaking sounds like an American making up foreign words (the pronunciation sounds like American English– plus a lot of throat-clearing). You shouldn’t worry about speaking Dutch, everyone speaks English from a very young age– and I mean great English. People switch between Dutch and English effortlessly.
2. Watch out for the bikes. There are thousands of bikes chained up everywhere– easily 500 within one block. It seems to be the primary mode of transportation around the city. Biking makes so much sense! The infrastructure is amazing– there are bike lanes on every road (which include stop lights, lines, etc.). The roads are crazy: filled with bikes, a sprinkling of cars, and a metro that runs right on the street (walk at your own risk). Crossing the street feels oddly like playing a game of Frogger— avoiding crowds of pedestrians, bikers, and motor vehicles. This city is VERY densely populated- there are tons of people everywhere– Remarkably, there isn’t chaos (people don’t Jaywalk) and the city is clean (thanks to many street-cleaning crews).
3. Rotterdam is a huge port city: there are bridges, channels, boats, and water everywhere. I saw a fair amount of houseboats.
4. There are “no smoking” signs everywhere. Inside my hotel room, I counted at least 6 obnoxiously large signs. The country of the Netherlands just banned smoking inside all public locations. This policy went into effect less than 2 weeks ago, so the people are now trying to enforce that policy. It seems to be working– don’t get me wrong though, people smoke everywhere else. There are cigarette butts everywhere (disgusting)– like I said, good thing for the street-cleaners.
5. There are hardly any police officers…anywhere. I saw only two my entire stay in the country (both on bikes). Apparently it works for them;there is hardly any crime (some petty crime) and I felt very, very safe.
6. Dutch people are very tall! Hildegunn tells me that they are the tallest in the world.
7. The architecture is very cool/modern.
8. I have a new favorite snack: Stroopewafel! This is hands-down the best snack item I have ever tasted — and I would bet that at least 10 of my band mates agree. A stroopewafel is shaped like a flat disc about 5 inches across. The cookie resembles a sandwich, the inside is a caramel substance while the outside is similar to an ice cream cone. I will definitely be hitting up Whole Foods and searching for those when I return home.
On the Mississippi Stage at the North Sea Jazz Festival
Posted by Sara Jacovino.
The North Sea Jazz Festival takes place in a massive convention center in Rotterdam (2 years ago it was moved from The Hague to its current location). This is, by far, the biggest jazz festival I have ever been to or played at.
The One O’clock played early in the day at an outdoor stage– in fact, we were the first act of the day. It was a blessing that we played so early because we were actually the ONLY act going on at that time. For the remainder of the day, there are about 10 stages going on simultaneously and have at least 4 MAJOR acts occurring at once. The sound check was great and for the first time on the tour, the band felt very comfortable playing with the sound set up. We played an hour long set that was very similar to the set that we played a few days earlier. The band performed far better than we had at any other stop on the tour — and that is a good thing, too, because the plaza was packed. The set was high energy and the crowd wanted more when we finished playing. I hope I make it back there to play again someday.
After our performance, the band was left with a bunch of backstage passes and access to all of the concerts of the day. My first stop included a Brad Mehldau concert. This festival is packed with so many great artists that I actually had to skip a great Dutch radio band and a Kenny Wheeler performance in order to check out this show (yes, they were all going on at once). The hall was huge and the audience sat in silence and listened intently to everything he played. It was an amazing performance.
We took advantage of the back stage passes and were able to catch Mehldau after the concert (a very nice guy — on a side note, he speaks pretty good Dutch). Other concerts that I was able to take in were: a group featuring Randy Brecker, a bit of a show of clarinetist Anat Cohen (sister of Avashai– trumpet), Antonio Sanchez, the WDR Big Band featuring Maceo Parker (which was in an arena-like setting that must have held at least 15,000 people), and a concert with Branford Marsailis.
All this in one day of the festival (at some point, I’ll post a list of all the people I didn’t have time to see).