Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

September/October 2010: Allan Harris

Soundtrack for Summer

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The Jazz on Wheels band has had a great summer. We’ve played in school yards and city parks—and even on a barge—to crowds that range from toddlers to elders. The kids have danced and added spice (from lion roars to tambourines), and even those whose dancing days are behind them have grooved along in their wheelchairs.

The band is a good mix of newcomers and veterans this year. Sheena Rattai has been tearing it up on vocals—she’s a superstar-in-training, with personality and musical intelligence to burn. I’m also thrilled that we have two new drummers. As most people know, I’m very picky about drummers, and I think there’s a huge future for both Lucas Sader and Allan Suban. Newcomer Niall Bakkestad-Legare is a truly gifted young sax player. I’m always excited by his creativity and taste.

They’re backed up by a whole load of experience. The fact that we actually have veterans is worth celebrating, and this crew is excellent. Will Bonness on keyboard, Simon Christie on trumpet, Shannon Kristjanson on sax/flute, Jared Castle-Sitas on trombone, Amber Epp and Anna-Lisa (when she can shake free of Solomon) on vocals—these musicians have loads of musicality and great ease on stage. I always look forward to a chance to play with them.

We have two more gigs to round out the season. On September 1, we play at Rossbrook House, a place that’s become a personal favorite of mine over the years. Every year, I get to hook up again with some kids who’ve been coming to hear us play since we started in 2006. They start out a bit reserved and watchful, but by the end of the performance, there’s usually a bunch of them up participating. It’s great to see them relaxing and having a good time.

The Sherbrook Street Festival is our last outing. On September 11, Sherbrook becomes a pedestrian zone, and people can wander through the neighborhood shops and cafes as well as enjoy the stage shows and street vendors. We were there last September—it was one of the highlights of our year.

Communities are made when people gather and get to know one another. The Jazz on Wheels band is more than happy to provide the party soundtrack!

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