Roy Ayers: My Life In Travel

'The beach in Sarasota is so beautiful and quiet I can write music there'


First holiday memory?

On 4 July my parents, three sisters and I would celebrate by going for a picnic down on the beach or in Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

Best holiday?

In Sarasota, Florida. I stay in a resort there every year. The beach is gorgeous and there aren't too many people around.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Jersey. I was only there for two days but I thought it was beautiful. My favourite place in the States is Sarasota because it's so quiet and I can write songs there.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That people around the world are very similar, with an appreciation for good music. I travel the world a lot and I feel like a music doctor, because people say my music gives them happiness.

Ideal travelling companion?

My wife, but she's a teacher so she can only travel with me during the summer. My musicians are great companions.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I like beaches because I love the warm sunshine and being on a beach gives me good thinking space.

Greatest travel luxury?

My CD and DVD players to keep me company and so I can listen to music when I'm on the road. I also take a small computer that I write music on.

Holiday reading?

I don't read that much, but my favourite author is James Baldwin. I knew him and his brother and I now live in their old apartment in New York.

Better to travel or arrive?

I enjoy flying and train travel. I don't really like driving any more, but I like seeing the countryside pass by when I'm on a journey, especially in the UK because it's so green.

Worst hotel?

A hotel I stayed at about four or five months ago in Birmingham. It was supposedly a four-star hotel but you couldn't receive phone calls in your room and to dial out, even for a local call, you needed a credit card. I couldn't believe it and I asked my agent not to book me into a hotel like that again!

Best hotel?

The most beautiful hotel I have stayed at was in Istanbul. I can't remember the name but it was a former palace, and it was absolutely stunning with old walnut wood and the most amazing decoration.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I like to jog along Riverside Park in New York up to 174th Street, which I do at least twice a week. I occasionally walk around Central Park, which is nice because everyone else is jogging.

Best meal abroad?

Any meal in Italy, the food there is really excellent. Unbelievably, I had a fantastic meal in Moscow. I think the chef was trying to make us feel at home.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

If I'm in England, I stop at a store and buy some McVitie's Digestive biscuits. You can't buy them in the States and I really love them!

Dream trip?

I haven't been to places like Egypt or the Middle East or China, so I'd like to visit them at some point.

Favourite city?

London. It's my number one market, I sell more records there than anywhere else in the world. I love the spirit and I love coming over to visit.

Where next?

To England to play in London, then down to Florida in August. I'll probably be back in London just after Christmas, which I'm looking forward to.

Roy Ayers will be performing at Bacardi B-Live on 31 May at the ICA in London ( www.bacardiblive.com)

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