Originally posted 5 Mar 2012
11am concert scheduled at the local public university. After last night's triumph, I'm nearly tempted to pull out all the stops on this last day and tell Jeff he may get the taste of "New York, New York" he's been waiting for. But once we get started, I realize I'm still not quite back in my top vocal form, and it's still not worth the risk to push it over the top.
Apparently my 85% is good enough though, 'cause the audience of English students and professors lights up as soon as we start playing - once again proving the infectious nature of good old fashioned American Swing. We do a mix of our French Connection and Route 66 repertoires, and this time Mignon Cardenty is better prepared to lead the folks across the map of the U.S. ;-) She also manages a great coup for Public Diplomacy when she coyly gets the Universities' Deans to dance with her, each in turn :-)
The most pleasant surprise of the morning for us however (besides the ultra-warm welcome!) is when our friend Serge shows up out of the blue and jumps on stage with us and a djembe he's borrowed from our driver, Valentine! Though this was not at all planned, it comes JUST at the right moment to help us take the audience to another level with a few final high energy numbers to close out the concert. We're extra happy at the chance to reunite with our new friend whom we wouldn't have seen again on this trip otherwise. I surprise both Jeff and Serge by spontaneously dividing up the audience on "Stand By Me" to get a classic vocal bass line going while the rest of the crowd sings along on the refrain, and this goes over like gangbusters before we close out, as usual, with a rip-roaring round of "Sweet Home Chicago" where now it's MY turn to dance with the Dean ;-)
Fairly exhausted, and dripping with sweat on this hot and dusty day, we end the concert and open up the floor for a Q&A with the audience. We field questions about jazz, and culture, and education from an inquisitive audience, but at some point it's time for us to go. Mathias invites the Dean up to say something, and the crowd, still caught up in the energy of the concert calls for him to SING - which he does ever graciously by actually cantoring his closing remarks! This puts a smile on my face, to be sure!
Our last meal in Cameroon (unfortunately, not the best :-( ) and then back to the hotel for a leisurely afternoon of packing and resting up for tonight's journey. The Consular secretary had made a plea for us to stop by the Embassy's office while here, and since we have the time to kill, we stop in there shortly before closing time and shoot the shit with the staff. Ed Ghallager warns us of potential delays for the Paris return flight... but in the end we make it through the airport with no undue hassle. We're pretty exhausted after a busy week - and though with such a full flight we don't get the benefit of upgrades nor window seats... we manage to settle in for the short (6 hour) flight and are eager to get HOME where we can drink the water from the tap, and maybe sleep a little later in the morning ;-) All in all, a most EXCELLENT journey!!!