SULĘCZYNO

The trip to Suleczyno was not quite as straightforward as anticipated, due to the fact that when Kent, John and Joanna went to pick up our rental vehicles, they discovered that, in spite of confirmation to the contrary, the vans we had booked had been given away. To give an idea of the logistics involved in moving the octet around, we each have a checked bag, plus 2 carry- on bags, consisting mostly of violins, viola, multiple saxes and EWI, music, and mikes, plus extra checked bags consisting of cymbals, electric bass and cello. En route we borrow drum kits and acoustic bass as needed. It takes meticulous research and planning on Joanna and Kent's part to make sure that we have every item we need for every concert, whether in a well- equipped Jazz Club in the middle of a major urban centre, or on an outdoor stage in the woods, which is exactly where we were heading that day. For the car rental agency breezily to inform Kent that they had given away what seemed to be the only vehicles in all of central Poland which could accommodate us, was very much not what he needed to hear at this juncture. After a certain amount of heated discussion, during which Joanna unleashed her best Polish bad self, we ended up with a smaller van and a station wagon, and taking inspiration from Tetris Cabbie in London, we found a way to made it work.

The roads were as jammed as our vehicles, and so we were running late by the time we reached Joanna’s parents’ cottage in Grzybowo, where we gobbled up a carefully prepared dinner of pyrogies that Joanna’s mum had made for us and booked it to Suleczyno.

The Jazz in the Woods festival in Suleczyno is set deep in a forest in northern Poland on an outdoor stage by a beautiful lake. Guest artists stay in a hotel right on the venue. Following the last night of the festival, which is when we performed, there is an epic jam session which traditionally winds up as the sun is rising the next morning! There is seating for over 1000 people on benches in front of the stage, and food, beverages, and craft stands in the woods nearby. This small but mighty festival is a favourite amongst Polish jazz musicians, hosting the likes of Nigel Kennedy, Gary Bartz, Bennie Maupine and Art Farmer in years gone by, and it was a great honour for us to have been invited back to play here for a second time. We had a chance to find the tree which attacked our van during our last visit and inspect the mark we left on it in self defence. Like in Kielce, and indeed all over Poland, our audience was hugely enthusiastic and appreciative. They even had some special applause for Ronda when she entered Circling Back very late, having discovered that her music was in the wrong order, and missing a fair chunk of the piece while frantically searching for it! Also, to Joanna’s great surprise, a number of her buddies from her days in the Music Conservatory in Gdansk showed up to cheer us on. It was also in Suleczyno that we learned that a) there are vipers in Poland and b) Chris (Krzysiu whilst in Poland) is very frightened of snakes. It's never a good idea to reveal this kind of information to your bandmates. Especially when said band mates inadvertently discover, in the charming little market in the middle of the village the next day, a toy stall selling really remarkably lifelike rubber snakes... 
(by Ronda Metszies)