The Sentimental Journey Big Band was originally formed in the mid-90’s when Len Noble, a retired lawyer, moved from Toronto to enjoy the sunshine and chinooks of Calgary in his leisure years. Shortly after establishing in Calgary, Len connected with other local musicians and decided to re-form a small jazz band that he had led back east called “the Group of Seven” and renamed it “Noble and Company”. The band got together on Saturday mornings in the auditorium at Cedar Villas Extendicare, to jam and practice and regularly entertained a faithful following of the residents of the Villas for years. The musicians ranged in age from 23 – 82. The band performed for various organizations and groups including private groups and seniors’ residences, playing music from the 30’s to the 50’s. In 2005 Len’s failing health resulted in his withdrawing from active participation and turning over his extensive music library of big band dance arrangements to Dick Skoog, the lead trumpet player, in the hope that the group would carry on.
Not long after, the band was fortunate enough to have Jack Innes join the group on trumpet and to take over the musical leadership of the band. While regular Saturday morning rehearsals continued, the location of weekly practices changed to Varsity Acres Presbyterian Church in NW Calgary. The band also updated its name to The Sentimental Journey Big Band as a fitting description of the band’s presentations. The band continued to entertain listeners and dancers alike with music that brings back memories of years past, when the big bands, like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Mark Kenny and Guy Lombardo, played the dance halls of New York, Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver and local bands provided regular entertainment throughout Alberta and the prairies, in both large and small centers.
Currently the band is comprised of by 18 – 20 local musicians from all walks of life, some who still have ‘day jobs’ and some who are retired lawyers. engineers, nurses, biologists, entomologists, accountants, teachers etc. The band is led by Drew Smith, a retired music teacher from Ontario, who joined the band in the trumpet section in 2006. Drew has steadily updated the band’s music library with arrangements by band members, past and present, like John Hughes, Jack Innes and himself, as well with commercial arrangements of more contemporary tunes that complement the bands swing era repertoire. The band’s musical presentations have been very enthusiastically received by audiences at private parties, weddings, celebrations, anniversaries, as well as seniors’ events.
The Sentimental Journey Big Band offers a varied, upbeat and balanced evening of good, lively, instrumental and vocal music, for listening and dancing, or just plain old reminiscing. For many years our big band sound was accompanied by the rich deep alto voice of Ruth Evans. Ruth's recent passing brings us a new sound with the soprano vocal stylings of Marina Theron. Drew and other band members like jazz harmonica player Bob MacFarlane, share in the vocal selections and the overall result is a dynamic and engaging presentation that encourages the audience to catch the spirit of the event and to join in the fun with the band.