It would be easy to think that a grammar school is known for its teaching of grammar, but the name refers instead to students having to test to get in.
The climactic moment at Bristol came when many students joined us on the stage to play samba rhythm patterns, with the rest of the audience up on their feet, cheering on their classmates. At Bristol, and also at the Torquay Boys' Grammar School, it was remarkable how attentive the kids were, and how much energy they gave back to us, which is always appreciated by musicians.
Playing seven gigs in five days, we bonded more deeply as a group. As the week progressed, each band member's personality became more fully realized on stage. Brandon was on fire in his trumpet solos. Stepping to the front of the stage the last night, Jeff showed a mix of profundity, virtuosity, and humor in his solo bass intro to Samba Over Easy. Aron spun rhythmic tone poems on his congas. A recent addition to our repertoire, Funky River, provided a vehicle for Sam Clark on guitar and Paul Vornhagen on tenor sax to get down to it. Paul and I, when not playing, liked to serve as rhythmic interpreters, expressing through dance the rhythms of the music. The logistics of the trip were a challenge, but the music is a pleasure to play. One audience member, seeing how much we love to perform our original compositions, called our music "joy jazz."
We returned home with the spirit of the British in our hearts. Brits use the word "brilliant" the way some Americans use "awesome." Over the course of the week, we heard many a "brilliant!", a generous sprinkling of "lovely", and only one "bloody hell," which was thankfully aimed at the government rather than at us.
Along with two tours in California, the tour of England made for quite a year for the Lunar Octet. For now, we've returned to our respective homes in Michigan, Ohio, California, Florida, and New Jersey, to await our next convergence.