SOPOT

Our final stop on tour was in Sopot, Joanna’s home town, where we played at the Sopot Molo Jazz Festival. Sopot is a beautiful resort city, with endless white sand beaches, an extraordinary wooden pier extending far into the sea, and countless hotels and restaurants (even one which was Mexican... or at least trying to be!). A Polish Dixieland band positioned on the back of a vintage flatbed truck led a parade down the main street, gathering an audience inits wake, before depositing everybody at the main stage where we played that night. It was a marvellous way to end the tour, and true to all of our performances in Poland, we were treated exceptionally well by the event promoters, put into the hands of exceptional stage and sound crews, and received with great enthusiasm and warmth by the audience which, like the others throughout Poland, did the European clappy thing at the end of the evening. Also, we had a fog machine on stage!!! We wound up the whole thing going for a lovely meal together at a good Polish restaurant and celebrating Jamie’s birthday, before heading back to our hotel to participate in the last jam session, pretty much until it was time to leave for the airport.

The benefits of doing such a tour for a group like ours are profound and long lasting. Not only does the group bond closer together as we find ourselves doing such unexpected group activities as getting lost in foreign countries and fending off thieves in the middle of the night, but the experience of playing in so many different acoustical spaces, adjusting to all of the different stages and circumstances we find ourselves in and having the opportunity to play night after night together, rather than a few individual performances separated by months in between, all combine to bring our ensemble playing to a much higher level. During our last tour, we felt the ensemble become a family. We even were all rechristened by Joanna with Polish names. This time, we were able to expand that family to include Jamie (Janusz), Clayton (Klejtus) and Barry (Barus). We were also able to build upon and expand some of the relationships we founded on our first tour and to bring our music (which not only included Kent’s original compositions and fabulous arrangements, but also new pieces by Chris and by another Canadian composer, Harold Birston) to an ever-widening audience in new countries. We are deeply grateful to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Edmonton Community Foundation and the Edmonton Arts Council, without whom this tour would not have been possible. 
(by Ronda Metszies)