In the following blog I will describe my experience touring this summer with the JM Jazz Orchestra in Europe. The JM band is an international big band featuring 18 selected musicians from 14 countries. We first met for a week of rehearsals at Groznjan-Croatia (a beautiful small village on the top of a mountain). The rehearsals were great, everyone sight reading and playing was inspiring, it was a real pleasure to get to know so many wonderful musicians from different parts of the world and to meet and work with the great trombone player and an inspiring person – Luis Bonilla – as our conductor.
On one of the the days after we finish rehearsing, Govani (one of the two alto players) invited us to play in a gig he had at a bar in his hometown Trieste, Italy that is not far from the Croatian! border were we stayed. The gig turned into a really fun jam session. Our first concert was in Lovran-Croatia. We got to Lovran in the morning and since the concert was in the evening we had some time to spend in the city. It is a beautiful city; the buildings are connected to each other, colorful and decorative. We also enjoyed the beautiful rocky beaches that Croatia is so famous for. The gig itself was pretty good, first concert is usually not perfect but it made us know what we need to work and be focused on for the following concerts.
On the next morning we started to hit the road. Our first destination was Basel – Switzerland.
The whole tour was on a bus, this first ride was supposed to take about 9 hours but turned into a 12 hours one after we got stuck in a traffic jam on an Italy highway while we didn’t move at all for about 2 hours. Since all the cars were stuck we just went out of the bus, ate launch on the highway and some people took their horns out and stated playing. Some people even left their cars and joined us. The rest of the ride was very beautiful, we were crossing the italian and swiss Alps Mountain and had some really nice views.
We spent the night in France close to the swiss border because our concert was in Basel on the next day. I gave my music folder to a friend that was supposed to bring it to the gig but when we got to the sound check we realized that there was a misunderstanding and he didn’t bring it. I had to go back to France where our things were and bring it before the concert starts.
Taking a cab was too expensive and our bus already left. I was looking for a solution while Amadis Dunkle (a great trombone player who invited us to come to Basel and played with us on the concert) suggested me to take his bikes saying it’s about 30 minutes ride each side. I couldn’t resist the opportunity and did the way from Switzerland to France on the bicycle. It was a very fun experience. I got back right on time, we played the gig and everything was great. On the day after, we packed our stuff on the bus and started heading to our next destination: Germany.
At noon we got to a small village which was built around a really nice castle in south Germany close to Stuttgart. We spent the day visiting the castle and walking around and had a fun concert there. The German production people took a really good care of us.
On the next morning we were heading to rotterdam in maybe the most important concert we had during the tour, in the North Sea Jazz Festival. It was a unique experience for me since I knew this festival for many years and always wanted to go there. We have been there for only one day (out of 4 festival days) but it was enough for me to see most of my living heroes playing live such as Brian Blade and the fellowship band, Lee Konitz, Ron Carter Trio, Chaka Khan, Dee Dee Bridgewater with the New Orleans big band, The Bad Plus Trio feat Joshua Redman and the amazing Wayne Shorter with his quartet. Wayne has always been one of my biggest heroes and watching him playing was incredible and inspiring. On our concert everyone were focused and motivated and we had a great concert together.
The day after we launched early to head to Brussels-Belgium in order to play at the Brussela Jazz Festival. It was an afternoon concert so after it was over we had a free evening to spend in brussels which was a fun experience.
After having some breakfast we started our long 17 hours trip back to Grojzan, Croatia where we first started our tour. We had our final concert there in the “Jazz is Back” festival and on the next day I had my flight back home to my hometown Tel Aviv, Israel after a year away.!
To sum up, I am truly grateful for this experience. I had some great experiences playing on big and important stages and festivals, being exposed to such amazing musicians from different cultures and backgrounds really inspired me and maybe most important I made friends and bonds with amazing people from all over the world, friendships that I’m sure will last for many years.
Thanks for reading if you got till here!!