Que lindo, how beautiful my Chile.

Finally home! My little home in Chile. My folks have had a sweet little house in Chile for the past 20 years. A bedroom, bath, kitchen, living room and a small courtyard with figs, grapes – a little slice of heaven. First thing I did was buy 20 empanadas (like a pita pocket but about a million times more yummy) – lunch and dinner for the next week…MMMMMMM a delicious meal…only to be found in Chile.

Met up with by best buddy and amazing jazz drummer, Alejandro Espinosa. He wants to jam, so we head to his friend’s place. Pancho ‘the frog’ has a nice pad, plenty of instruments–we start to jam. Greg [Fundis] listens to a tune and Alex plays, Alex hangs while Greg plays, slowly folks are showing up–a few fine Chilean ladies–and in a few hours beer and wine is flowing and barbecue – a real BARABACOA (none of this cooking with gasoline like we do in the US, but real wood coals) and in no time AMAZING food: sausages, beef, chicken, veggies, salad, AVOCADO, FRESH TOMATOES. ALL OF THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER MIND YOU and so much love it hurts. All hangin’ and sitting in the kitchen, stools and chairs improvised, laughter, love and swang. Thanks you all. Amazing how good the music gets when we are all happy and at peace. And when our tummelos are full!

Next, The Flat Earth Ensemble spent a week in Frutillar, Chile performing and jamming at the first international jazz festival “Jazz en la Patagonia”.

After a week hanging in Santiago, visiting friends and family, Alex [Austin, bass], Greg [Fundis, drums] Shiva Ghoshal [Chile], and I headed down to Frutillar for the jazz fest. What a trip. USA, take a step back here comes CHILE!!!

Teatro del Lago is a gorgeous state of the art concert venue and arts complex, on Lake Llanquilue just across from the volcano OSORNO and 7 other dormant volcanos. Surrounded by nature, this concert hall sits on the edge of the lake and is the latest of the fantastic creations of the ever growing, ever modernizing Chilean state.

My job, as assistant to Director NEA jazz master Paquito D’Rivera was to make sure all went smoothly–and take the blame for all mistakes!

Luckily, it all worked out. I am 1/2 Chilean and fluent in Spanish so communication was less of a problem. This first day of the fest Greg, Alex and I were in charge of a kiddie concert…for 1000 children! Greg explained and showed the kids that percussion from Africa was the root of jazz. The kids played body percussion, and groooooooooved to Greg’s lovely enthusiastic adorable American Spanglish.

Then we were off to New Orleans where I, aka “PAKI Kallaway”, sang the urdu version of Minnie the Moocher–complete with audience ”hideehideehideeho” call and response. The kids and the band had a blast. Each night the trio set up the jam session, and I got to play every night with Paquito’s groups as well as with the Flat Earth Ensemble. A special welcome to newest FEE family member Shiva Ghoshal AKA “ The Repeater”!

The jam sessions were especially revelatory. Teatro del Lago, the ‘Theatre on the Lake’ is a state of the art performance facility, usually dedicated to classical performances. This was their first jazz fest. The administration was lovely and very helpful, yet there was certainly a learning curve for all:

Staff: “WHO will play in the jam session????”
Fareed: “Uh, who ever shows up to jam”
Staff: “What songs will you play??”
Fareed: “Uh, whatever we all know?”
Staff: “When will you rehearse”
Fareed: “Huh?? Who?”
Staff: “What instruments will be needed???”
Fareed: “Boing!”

But in the end all went amazingly. With Paquito Drivera and band watching and a sold out house at the jam session, the great Freddie Cole gets up to sing a tune with us, which he calls “My One and Only Love” in C, thankfully I know it, and looks at me and we hit! To the shock and joy of all present, we swing, SWANG! This tune, and audience and staff are on their feet–digging the true spontaneity of JAZZ. NO rehearsal, no special effects, just respect, talent, tradition and LOVE. Nothing like it. Nothing better.

The next night, Freddie and I chatting about the good old days on the south side of Chicago–clubs like The Other Place–music 7 nights a week, 7 sets a night. Hungry? Order a catfish sammich on white bread from the kitchen. John Logan, Vonsky, Curtis Robinson, swinging. That night Freddie sings, “On the South side of Chicago”. He told me later he sang that inspired by our conversation. I’m probably the only one who tears up. Thank you Freddie Cole. Maestro.

Now we are heading back to USA, our hearts full. Thank you Teatro del Lago, thank you Paquito, Thank you Jazz.