Paris Jazz Diary
Ms. Howard's club gigs in Paris were sparse this summer because she spent most of the weeks performing at European festivals, including Jazz au Juan at Antibes (near Nice and Cannes), Jazz Fest L'Abbaye de Fontdouce (in a 12th century chateau near Cognac), Jazz Festival du Enghien-les-Bains (where Marcus Miller jumped up on stage to join the band), Colmar (opening for Cedar Walton), Blues in Chedigny (opening for Lucky Peterson), plus a week at Muddy Waters Blues Club in Oslo, Norway. Originally from Indianapolis and then Phoenix, she worked for 10 years in Singapore, Jakarta and Bali before moving to Paris.
Sarah Morrow, an expat from Columbus, Ohio, also spent the summer touring, so her club bookings were rare, too.
Kate Michaels, an American living in Switzerland, presented a vocal tribute to Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe, selecting songs from her films, such as "Do It Again," "Heatwave," and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," and Michaels' CD, Just Marilyn.
The dinner-concert at Le Petit Journal Montparnasse featured the singer's Red Thread Trio of pianist Stephan Kraus, bassist Roland Doeringer and drummer Marko Klotz, enlarged into a swinging little-big band by three French musicians Cyril Moret on saxophones, Jerome Dousautoy on trumpet and Jean-Paul Noves on trombone.
While in Paris, I know I will hear plenty of music of all kinds in the Metro stations and the cars themselves. Whatever the style, when playing aboard the cars, the concept of time is an important factor and not just to keep the beat. Musicians hustle aboard, play a short song or two, then circulate to collect coins for their efforts. When the subway stops at the next station, they hurry from the car and board the one ahead or behind, continually repeating the cycle.
One afternoon the musician in the Chatelet station was Les Theard, a part-time expat from New Orleans. I had previously heard this Sonny Rollins-influenced tenor saxophonist at a house party in Antony, on the outskirts of Paris, and later guesting with bands at Les Fous en L'Ile and Le Sept Lezards. His own combo, including pianist Henri Miezin, is booked for club gigs in the fall and spring by his manager, Colin Gravois, the house-party host and former European festival producer.
I even added my own voice to the Paris jazz experience, but don't worry, I didn't try to sing! I was a guest speaker for one of Patricia Laplante-Collins' weekly arts salons. The topic for my Paris Soirees evening was "Top Ten Jazz Encounters," recalling my interviews and experiences with Dizzy, Ella, Count, Lionel, Buddy, Maynard, Mose, etc. Before and after my remarks, it was wonderful to hear such enthusiasm about "our" music.
It's good to remember that although Europeans decry current American policies, they continue to venerate and cultivate the born-in-the-USA sound of jazz, an international language that surpasses cultural, political and ethnic differences.