Columbia Jazz Band European Tour 2014
Coda Connections Feature - Fall 2014

‚ÄčThe Columbia Jazz Band enjoyed another truly fantastic and successful European tour. As the ensemble celebrates its 25th anniversary, a tour to
Europe was the ideal way to mark this milestone in CJB history. The band traveled to southern France and northern Spain July 12-25. The group
departed from Dulles airport with a stop to change planes in Paris, then on to Nice, France. We performed seven times with audiences totaling over 8700
people. Many audiences were standing room only beginning with two concerts at the Jazz a Juan festival at Juan-les-Pins and Antibes, France, on the French Riviera. What a sensational part of the world--the history of the region and the views were amazing.

After the two terrific gigs at the Jazz a Juan festival, we traveled to Arles, France and performed at Etang des Aulnes, a national park for the performing arts hosted by the local choir of Galet-Jade. This event was terrific as the band was really on fire for this very enthusiastic audience. Following
the concert, we were honored to partake of a delightful reception and a memorable meal of paella in a 4-foot pan homemade by our hosts. Delicious!
From Arles we moved on to Carcassonne, France. This medieval town is surrounded by powerful fortresses and our hotel was within the medieval walls. Here, as in each location we visited, we had a local tour guide to take us to the highlights of each region with each and every sight creating a
fantastic memory.

For our first gig in Barcelona, Spain, we made a short bus ride to the Catalonia region where we were the centerpiece of Fiesta Mayor in La Nou de Gaia (at the foot of their castle); the next night we performed at a benefit concert in the city of Barcelona sponsored by city hall where our performance
collected over 100kg of donations for the local food bank. A sensational audience cheered as the band played its heart out. Our Barcelona sightseeing trips included the glorious Sagrada Familia cathedral designed by the brilliant architect, Antonio Gaudi. If you ever have a chance to visit Barcelona, I highly recommend you see the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, described as the "most extraordinarily personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages." I should mention that along the way on this tour, we had the unique opportunity to see spectacular Roman ruins and many art treasures by brilliant artists such as Picasso and Van Gogh, to name only a few.

On to San Sebastian, Spain. For our final two performances, the CJB opened the first two days of the Jazzaldia jazz festival, a world-class international jazz festival on the Frigo stage at Kursaal Terraces. While in this Basque region, located along the Atlantic coast that spans the border between Spain and France, we took a short bus trip to see Bilbao, Spain. In Bilbao, we visited the spectacular Guggenheim Museum designed by the architect Frank Gehry. Interestingly, the band performed a Pat Metheny composition titled "Song for Bilbao" arranged by Alan Baylock. Our stay in beautiful San Sebastian completed our tour in a memorable way.

For our flight back to Columbia we departed from Bordeaux, France, with a plane change in Paris then on to Dulles airport.

Throughout the 14-day tour we all enjoyed great music, great sights, great food, great friendships and camaraderie, great hospitality and a truly wonderful experience in southern France and northern Spain. Our bus driver, Edi was brilliant, maneuvering in the tightest spaces with unmatched skill. Our tour manager, Johan, was also our tour manager on our 2012 tour. Johan is extremely knowledgeable about France and Spain, warm and friendly and he loved our music and perhaps most importantly, kept us all on schedule. The band played great each and every performance. Every member was focused and it was clear we came to play! After all the tour rehearsals, the hard work paid off with superb music!

Unquestionably an amazing trip for all. We had a total of 49 people on the trip, which included our 18 band members. Our tour company was Cultural Tours Consultants. This was our second European tour with this first-rate tour company. Our local (Maryland) tour manager was our bass player, Randy Malm, who handled a myriad of details in a professional manner and our musical director was yours truly, Pete BarenBregge.

Once again, we did Columbia, Maryland proud!

Pete BarenBregge
Director, Columbia Jazz Band