Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Monday night jazz jam open mic in Paris

Monday is a great night out for Jazz in Paris, the City of Lights: it's open mic Jam night almost everywhere in Paris and that means free entry AND some great young musicians coming out to share their talents with seasoned musicians leading the jams... OK, almost free: the price of a drink at each jazz bar – but 5 euros for a beer in Paris seems a good deal for such an opportunity.

Tonight I checked out three of Paris’s classic jazz bars: Sunset/Sunside (two clubs in one: Sunset downstairs and Sunside upstairs), le Baiser Sale (right next door), and le Caveau des Oubliettes (over on the left bank). Sunset had Michael Cheret on Sax leading the jam, with Pierre Perchaut on guitar, Mathias Alemande on bass, and Philipe Soirat on drums. An assortment of young horn players sat in over the course of the evening, but the one to watch was a young Hungarian, Gabor Bola, on baritone sax who did an extraordinary job on a couple of John Coltrane tunes.

After that I headed over to le Baiser Sale where the percussionist Francois Constantin usually leads a vigourous Latin-based jam session from his set of Congas. However, tonight, although the idea of inviting the African keyboardist Cheik Zidiane Seik seemed like a wonderful idea, somehow things never really started to swing, and the lack of other players in the audience waiting for their chance seemed to back me up, so I headed across the Seine to le Caveau des Oubliettes.

We're in a heat wave right now in Paris and so it was a beautiful, warm stroll at almost midnight crossing the river in front of the beautiful Conciergerie. The Caveau des Oubliettes is a tiny, vaulted basement which hosts jams almost every night of the week, and on Mondays this month they are being hosted by William Chabbey trio (photo above). Chabbey plays a blues and funk based jazz guitar and was backed up by a Hammond and drums. It's the first time I've seen him play and I was impressed by his ability to switch between styles and flirt with blues, rockabilly, funk, rock and roll and still keep improvising with a clear jazz voice. He's clearly popular with the young French players since almost everyone in the audience was clutching a glass of red wine in their hands and a horn propped up beside them as they waited their turn. I caught the last metro home, but they were going on for another set...

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