We arrived at the Hotel Ochsen in Muri for our last concert of the tour after a considerably laborious journey – a drive from Nové Mesto, Slovakia to Vienna, Austria, then a flight from Vienna to Zurich, Switzerland, and another drive from Zurich to Muri. I have always wanted to play at Musig im ochsen. Hundreds of jazz greats have performed in the hotel venue and the concert host, Stephan, is a legend in NYC. A well-loved musician himself, Stephan has a generous heart, a passion for music, and a marvelous collection of instruments. For years, I have watched faces light up as my musician friends detail their visits to Muri and the exceptional hospitality they received from Stephan and his family. I am eager to report: the stories are all true!
Muri is serene. Cows and sheep graze in the green pastures, goats wander the cloister grounds, and snow-covered Alps surround the pastoral scene. It truly is a world away from New York City’s crowds, noise and endless concrete, not to mention the city’s dirty streets and subway. I did not see a single piece of trash on the ground in Muri.
The concert was exciting and emotional for me. Between songs I quietly reminded myself to savor every note, to be fully aware of the fleeting magic of this last concert. We played to a full house of attentive listeners who applauded us back onto the stage for an encore. After the concert, I sold CD’s and had a chance to chat with local music lovers who frequent Stephan’s concert series. We had an intimate after party in the hotel cafe where Stephan opened a beautiful bottle of red and we toasted to a two-week tour well done. The band compared notes with Stephan on their favorite jazz musicians while I sat listening, enjoying hearing the band speak in English for a change!
The next morning the band and I savored a traditional Swiss dish prepared by Stephan’s wife, Miriam. Älpermagronen is potatoes, cheese, and pasta with caramelized onions on top and applesauce on the side. It was mouth-wateringly spectacular! I reluctantly stopped myself form taking a third helping.
As I was departing Muri, I received a Facebook message from Petr, the jazz promoter in Kladno. It read “You’re leavin’ on a jet plane, don’t know when you’ll be back again, oh babe, we hate to see you go.” Oh Petr, I hate to go!
But off to the airport – The band had to go back to Vienna to retrieve our tour van and drive our gear four hours back to Prague. I was flying to JFK by way of a one-day stop in Madrid. When the time came to say goodbye to my band mates, my eyes welled up. After hugs all around, I waved goodbye to Tomas, Lukas, and Roman. Once they were out of sight, I turned into a puddle. I will always carry joy and gratitude for such talented and special musicians who brought their gifts to my music and this incredible tour.