Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Out and About - Jazz in the Summer in Paris and Jazz Festivals near Paris

With the weather in Paris and summer coming on strong I'm going to suggest more Jazz festivals and also some events that are happening in venues where you can get out and either be in Parcs in Paris or see Jazz outdoors.

First, for the diehard Gypsy Jazz fans there is the Django Reinhard Fest at Samois Sur Seines

Its about a 40 minute drive from the city, and if you plan it well, you can combine it with a trip to the fabulous Chateau of Fontainbleu.

Then, from the old to the new (ish) John Zorn will be doing a whole series of concerts at the Cite de La Musique . To get his sound back in your ear, here's a brief video of the work of Man Ray with soundtrack by Zorn.

the Cite is a venue I adore, since its right inside my favourite parc in Paris - the Parc de La Villette... a kind of post-modern playground where real submarines are parked in the middle of the grass. Get out there on Sundays if you can to see the many Samba bands that set up in the afternoon!

and finally - this is inside, but it should be amazing - on July 4th the Studio Ermitage presents the congolese poet Loscony with the extraordinary Bobby Few with Rasul Siddick, Tom Mckenzie, King Blaise, Chansse Evans and Eddie Allen...among others...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weill Inspirations

When I first started working on my CD of the songs of Kurt Weill inspired by my show Whiskey Bars, I knew I wanted to do the gorgeous Speak Low, but the coaches I saw in New York all advised me to do it as this shlocky uptempo musical theatre thing. And it made me itch - probably because the words are so heartbreaking... I couldn't see myself believing in an interpretation of these words

Speak low when you speak, love
Our summer day withers away too soon, too soon
Speak low when you speak, love
Our moment is swift, like ships adrift,
we're swept apart, too soon

as some bouncy fingersnappin' uptempo thing. So I was delighted to stumble upon a strange recording of the amazing bassist, Charlie Haden, jamming on this song with a recording of Kurt Weill, the man himself, apparently taken from some rehearsal where he was coaching the song. And it's heartbreaking. (ok...the video itself is kind of kitsch...but it was the 80's.... however the song is gorgeous... hell, anything Haden ever did is gorgeous...)

so Stan (my amazing pianist) and I decided to do it as slow as possible and just let all those beautiful words and harmonies just flow out. This is live from the show...

and you can hear the version from the CD here... or here - on Amazon, or itunes..


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jazz Festival Season in Paris is Fast Approaching

Jazz Festival season is almost upon us in Paris, along with the summer weather, or almost summer weather, depending on what bit of odd early spring weather global warming is forcing on you. But rain or shine there will be a lot of great music in Paris over the summer months. This is the first post about upcoming festivals. Mostly links to their sites where you can explore their programming -

ongoing is the Les Couleurs du Jazz from the 6 to 29 juin 08

also ongoing is La Defense Jazz Festival I'm not a great fan of the neighbourhood and the immense glass boxes that it celebrates, but hell, if some of the corporate money goes to fund starving jazz musicians then I'm a fan! And even fund some non-starving artists like the amazing Herbie Hancock, who'll be performing on the 29th!

and finally in a venue I adore, in a neighbourhood I love, don't miss upcoming shows at Jazz Au Zebre from the 17th to the 20th of June... it should be a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Leonard Cohen World Tour...

honestly... he was... just amazing... 73 and brimming with charisma and charm and honesty.. it was a totally brave concert... he could have walked out and coasted on his hits and just walked through the evening, but he made it extraordinary...

Friday, June 06, 2008


Why does this kind of freak me out... just checked itunes and and the CD is up there as well... available in whole or by single song download... i guess that something about being a part of the apple empire and actually participating in this 'new economy' is very odd... I had enough trouble with the old economy, much less the new one...

anyway... for those who swing that way - its now searchable, listenable, viewable, buyable on

Apple iTunes
Inprodicon (whatever that is...)

Brave New Days - My Jazz in Paris available around the world

At last the digital age. My CD's go up on sale for downloads at CD Baby. You can just click on a button and the songs will arrive in your computer - no clumsy jewel case, no CD to get scratched - it is all virtual. I feel so light and modern and new... I'm thinking of following the example of Jane Siberry and changing my name, renouncing possessions and travelling the world with nothing but a macbook and a great set of clothes.... but then I'd also feel a bit too much like a character in a William Gibson novel...

anyway, I digress... the songs are available at

My first CD  features 14 songs from Weill's early works with Brecht to his last unfinished Broadway show: Huck Finn. The pianist is the wonderful Stan Cramer. This CD came out of a collaboration between Stan and Bremner on a show of Kurt Weill’s songs that has since toured across the world. Critics have said…

The second CD is new arrangements of Standards and Al-Rock Classics from the Talking Heads, Velvet Undeground, Ron Sexsmith, Leonard Cohen etc etc

"Bremner Duthie has a voice of power and inner beauty that commands the whole space..... One feels seduced by the sheer power and beauty of this performance"
-- Musical Stages Magazine: London, England

“And my god, does he ever sing. Bremner's performance is jaw-dropping-my jaw literally dropped-as he not only sings beautifully but actually performs the songs beautifully as well. " --View Magazine, Hamilton , Ontario

"When he sings, his voice is like a big, dark, sultry room --full of emotive and expressive possibilities. Even when Duthie sings in languages other than English, the passion and subtext come startlingly alive." -- The Georgia Straight, Vancouver

“For many of us, our first exposure to Kurt Weill was on Bette Midler's early albums. Since then, such performers as Ute Lemper and Teresa Statas have become great interpreters of his music. Add Bremner Duthie, the star of 'Whiskey Bars' to that list. He delivers a stunning, stirring rendition of "What Keeps a Man Alive?" and his 'Mack the Knife' is done slowly and seductively, because it's a song for a bad boy. – Stephen Lavigne, Minneapolis Web Reviewer

“Bremner Sings Weill is a 15-song collection of some of the best work of German-born composer Kurt Weill, most famous for his collaborations with writer Bertolt Brecht but who also worked with such lyricists as Ira Gershwin and Oscar Hammerstein. Duthie - with fabulous accompaniment by pianist Stan Cramer - savours each word as a succulent morsel. With Duthie's comforting, soothing baritone voice, this is music to satiate the soul.

Thanks to his background in opera, and talent for cabaret and broadway song styles, Duthie "pays close attention to text," as the expression goes. Indeed, he treats every song as a script and each is quite scenic - none more so than his unique and pleasing interpretation of Weill & Brecht's "Mack The Knife". His vocal presentations also range from celebratory ("Bilbao Song") to mischievous ("Apple Jack") to soft and gentle ("Speak Low"), and then immediately to passionate and with gusto for a trio of tunes ("The Song Of The Big Shot", "What Keeps Mankind Alive" and "Alabama Song"). If you're at all interested in the music of Weill, this is a CD to add to your collection. If you're not familiar with his work, this CD would make an excellent primer. Bremner Sings Weill ... he also sings well ... exceedingly well, as a matter of fact."
Robin Chase, Winnipeg Web Reviewer


Mack The Knife
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Three Penny Opera)

(lyrics by Rodger Fernay)

Bilbao Song
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Happy End)

You Gentlemen Who Think You have a Mission
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Three Penny Opera)

Alabama Song
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Mahagonny)

I'm a Stranger Here Myself
(lyrics by Odgen Nash, from One Touch of Venus)

Je ne t'aime pas
(lyrics by Maurice Magre)

Lost in the Stars
(lyrics by Maxwell Anderson and Alan Paton, from Lost in the Stars)

My Ship.
(lyrics by Ira Gershwin, from Lady in the Dark)

Speak Low
(lyrics by Ogden Nash, from One Touch of Venus)

The Song of the Big Shot
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Happy End)

Nowhere to Go But Up
(lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, from Knickerbocker Holiday)

Apple Jack (backing vocals: Stan Cramer)
(lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, from Huck Finn)

Moon Faced Starry Eyed
(Lyrics by Langston Hughes, from Streetscene)

One Life to Live
(lyrics by Ira Gershwin, from Lady in the Dark)