Paris Jazz Diary 2006
I caught American ex-pat Sylvia Howard at several venues, her classy style in perfect harmony with the plush Bilboquet restaurant-jazz club. Her sets with the Philippe Milanta Trio drew SRO audiences nightly for a full week. She puts her individual imprint on every song, in particular "That Old Black Magic, "Georgia, "Angel Eyes and the Nina Simone hit "In the Dark.
This summer I added two venues that were new to me: Swan Bar, launched two years ago by former university lecturer Lionel Bloom in the Montparnasse area, where. Howard also performed, as did Manda Djinn (who has created "La Bakeer, a scripted Centennial birthday tribute to Josephine Baker). Also appearing at Swan were the Theard twins, tenor saxophonist Les and pianist Lowell. Louisiana-born, they also fit perfectly at my second newbie, Blue Bayou, a Louisiana-style restaurant where former New York saxophonist David Murray guested with the pair, as did pianist Henri Miezen.
A special treat toward end of my summer stay was hearing former Phoenix tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, now based in New York City, who was in Paris to perform with two bands. The first was drummer Daniel Humair's trio at Sunside, a free-jazz experience that featured the reedsman shifting from high-screaming to low-growling contrasts, along with multiphonic murmurs. Later in the week, Malaby performed with [bassist] Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra at the Jazz a la Villette festival.
Despite the global reputation of the French as smokers, several jazz clubs now have signs that request no smoking during the sets, or only at the bar area. Although many have admission charges, there are many more that do not, especially for jam sessions.
Le boeuf is the French term for a jam, and I've had many discussions (in English and French) to try to find out why. No one seems to know the origin. I've explained that the word "jam in English is logical, because making that foodstuff requires a mixture of ingredients (musicians), and it has to "cook until it's "hot. I did find out, consulting a Larousse French dictionary, that there is a slang expression, C'est boeuf! that means "It's terrific. Ah, but which came first, the jam or the slang? No one seems to know. I continue my global sleuthing.