Matt Bianco Tour - Sardinia / by Elaine Crouch

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We were going out for 4 shows over 2 nights at the BFLAT Jazz Club in Cagliari. The trip out was via Rome and a brutally early 7:25am flight from Heathrow. This meant everyone's alarms were set for around 4am. This is known as “f*** off o'clock” in touring parlance and on one nighters is often two days running.

Mercifully all the flights were on time and I dodged the airport baggage taggers and got the sax on board all flights without a problem.

The Miramare Cagliari - art hotel, maison de charme was a funky boutique hotel with very stylish and all completely different rooms. It was quirky but very nice.

We had a full (by Matt Bianco standards) rehearsal of about an hour (another hobby horse of mine: bandleaders, don’t kill the gig with a long rehearsal on the same day before the show!!), to give Rob Barron and Steve Fishwick a heads up on their first gigs with the band. The guys did a great job. The rest of us were the “Gravity” CD team: Sebastiaan de Krom, Geoff Gascoyne, ELISABETH TROY and Mark Reilly.

The club was fairly small and the staff were very welcoming and hospitable. It was situated away from the harbour where our hotel was and in a modern concreted block. The interior was much more stylish than the exterior!

All the shows were full and well received and I think we played better and certainly with more energy on the second night.

On the second daytime I went for a run, trying to find a coastal route, but due to dock security I couldn’t get near the sea and ended up running along main roads through barren industrialised areas. So I decided to go for a walk in the afternoon and researched the Lonely Planet online. I learned that the most spectacular views in Cagliari were to be had from Il Castello, which I Googled. It was a 4km walk, and it took me to a run down, shut restaurant by the same name in the least picturesque landscape imaginable.... the pitfalls of blindly satnav following!

Before our flight home we just had time to do lunch. Not really Italian style, as we had to explain we only had an hour. It was worth it - the food was a reminder that Italy really rocks when it comes to cuisine. The restaurant was called Ristorante Antica Cagliari and I highly recommend it, especially for seafood fans (Geoff is not one, he was saying “it’s all bloody seafood on this menu!”)

Thanks to Sam Sollai for the photo.