The battle with jetlag has begun! I woke up this morning at 5am, already a bit of a successful first night, considering I had 6 hours of unbroken sleep. So, I set out to explore the city by foot after a hearty breakfast. I wandered my way to the old city, walking through the meandering small narrow streets, soaking in the relaxed atmosphere on this clear, cool morning. I was quite surprised to find similarities to parts of old Montreal and Quebec City in the way the buildings seem to lean inward over your head as you negotiate the small alleyways of Old Stockholm.
From there I walked to the Djugården to see the Vasa Museum, One of the most impressive and popular museums in Sweden. The museum displays the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. It was brought back to the surface in 1961.
After a long walk back to my accommodations and a well deserved nap, I went to have dinner with my compatriot Joe Williamson, who's been living in Stockholm for almost a decade with his wife Johanna and his two daughter, Joyce and Grace. We spent the evening reminiscing about the Vancouver music scene in the early nineties. Joe was the first bassist I hired to play in my very first band, Et Cetera, a septet composed of some of the most talented and adventurous young musicians in the city at the time Joe on bass, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, Saul Berson on alto sax, Ian MacIntosh on tuba, Tony Wilson on guitar, and Brad Muirhead on trombone. Joe moved to Amsterdam in the mid 90's, and then on to Berlin before settling in Sweden. In each city he resided, he has managed to get involved in the music scene and to collaborate with a veritable who's who of the international creative music scene. In addition, he is one of those individuals with the gift of language. He's taught himself Dutch, German, and Swedish. He is also one of the few musicians I know who have always had a strong sense of where they "come from". His playing is imbued with a deep understanding and respect for the tradition, while consistently transcending genres, making him one of the truly original creative voices to have emerged from the Canadian west coast.
Tonight is the first concert of my tour. I will be performing at Glenn Miller Café with Joe and a couple of Swedish musicians; Drummer Jon Fält, and pianist Mattias Risberg. I met Mattias last year when he visited Vancouver on a Swedish/Canada cultural exchange residency. Like Lisa Ullén, Nils Berg, and Mats Äleklint before him, Mattias immersed himself in the Vancouver music scene by meeting and playing with many of the musicians there. After sharing a few espressos at Milano coffee shop, and playing at my VCC studio, we agreed to pursue opportunities to work together again. It's thanks to Mattias that I was able to put together enough dates to make this tour happening. In reciprocity, Mattias will be travelling to the Canadian West Coast again in June and July to perform with me in Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Cumberland, BC. Although I have never met Jon Fält, his reputation follows him everywhere. Whenever I mention his name, the reaction is the same; he is one of the finest musicians on the scene here in Sweden, and has collaborated with pretty much all of the most important players around. I'm sure it'll be a real treat to work with him this evening.