339

Paris Jazz Diary 2010

Patricia Myers By

Sign in to view read count
Travelers who stay in Paris for more than three days without hearing live jazz will miss a vital element of Parisian life. Jazz is as easily available as French wine and crusty baguettes, with performances seven nights a week throughout the City of Light. It's been this way since jazz first entered Paris in the 1920s, when American bands came to entertain the World War I troops and boost the spirit of locals. The enthusiastic reception of America's music convinced many musicians to stay on, and then more came to stay during the Second World War and '50s and '60s. In the 21st century, Paris continues to be a destination for touring and expatriate jazz musicians, as well as its own vigorous European jazz community that values and venerates this nation's gift to the world.
It's easy to find jazz in Paris. Music venues are listed by type in the Pariscope and L'Official Spectacle mini-magazines that are issued every Wednesday, available at newsstand kiosks. There are jam sessions almost nightly, noted in the listings as boeuf.That translates as "beef," the term originating in the 1930s, when French and foreign musicians met after-hours on the roof of the Le Boeuf sur le Toit restaurant to jam; the venue again has live jazz. There also are performances in churches, listed in the concerts pages of the mini-magazines, with tributes to deceased and living jazz luminaries, including frequent jazz manouche—replications of the gypsy-jazz sound of Django Reinhardt.
During my annual visit, I went to more a dozen boites de nuit (nightclubs) of the 30-some regular venues, hearing high-quality jazz from both touring and resident bands. Clubs are varying sizes and types, from the plush Lionel Hampton Jazz Cub at the Hotel Meridien L'Etoile, open since 1975, where I was thrilled to hear Michel Legrand a few years ago, to numerous small caves (underground stone cellars). Music starts later than in U.S., usually 9:30 or 10 p.m. Most have an entry charge, some require drink orders, but not all, and now there is no smoking in clubs or cafés, only at sidewalk tables. There also are many piano bars, most with an upright piano, some with baby grands. (Paris jazz musicians believe a venue isn't a real jazz club unless there is a baby grand or an upright piano). Outdoors, the summer Paris Jazz Festival at Parc Floral costs only park admission of 5 euros. This year, the series staged European bands, rather than touring American musicians of the past.
Most of the top jazz names are booked at two clubs. The largest is New Morning, a huge warehouse-style venue with rows of chairs on two levels, but not far from the stage. It's open seating, so people are on line more than an hour before the doors open. One night, I heard alto saxophonist David Sanborn, organist Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Steve Gadd. The fusion-jazz genius reverted to his influences, performing "The Peeper," in tribute to Hank Crawford, "Let the Good Times Roll," to celebrate Ray Charles, and "Señor Blues," to salute Horace Silver. Sanborn also offered a slice of jazz-pop via Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel," followed by a big-band nod of "I've Got News for You," from the Woody Herman repertoire (DeFrancesco delivering the amusing vocal). Another night there, it was vocalist Roberta Gambarini, whose swinging ballads and lithe scatting produced hearty applause from a packed house. Her second set was revved by a surprise sit-in of trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Other stars scheduled this season at New Morning included Ron Carter, Mike Stern and Randy Brecker, Kurt Elling, Eddie Palmieri, James Carter, and Hargrove.

Another club for big names is Le Duc des Lombards, a classy longtime venue refurbished a year ago with two viewing levels and a light food menu. This year, I heard one of my longtime favorite French musicians, Philippe Duchemin, whose piano prowess is captivating, his agility and creativity truly amazing. Strongly influenced by Oscar Peterson, he solidly delivers The Great American Songbook, along with memorable original charts such as "Take Bach" and "Ballade en Pologne." He also performs at Chez Papa, the River Café, and at numerous festivals throughout Europe. Another combo at the Duc was led by trombonist Francois Guin, who once played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in Paris, and whose performance was a history lesson of charts from gospel roots to Ellington and on to "Birdland," Weather Report-style. "The Duc," as locals call it, recently booked stars such as Phil Woods, Kenny Barron and Charles McPherson.

Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "We Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2016
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "Enjoy Jazz 2016" Live Reviews Enjoy Jazz 2016
by John Kelman
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "String Theory 2016" Live Reviews String Theory 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition 2016" Live Reviews Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition 2016
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2016
by John Kelman
Published: July 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!