Friday, July 10, 2009

A Song a Day - Court and Spark

today's song is track 3 on the album - Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell

Court and Spark is the amazing Joni Mitchell album where she begins to seriously indulge her interest in Jazz, weaving jazz chords and harmonies into a pop setting. It went to the #2 spot on billboard in 1974 and stayed there for a month. Its a beautiful album. But, oddly enough, the musicians who I worked with in France, being serious, serious jazz guys, had never heard of it, or heard this track. Which left us free to start afresh, so to speak. The word street rap was thrown around (in a very thick Parisian accent) and the guitarist edited down the chords to a basic blues progression, and then we come up with this arrangement - which, oddly enough, features serious jazz musicians taking a jazz inspired pop song and simplifying it and taking aspects of rap and blues and layering those on top. I'm still not sure what I think of it - one day I love it, since I get to hear the bones of the song anew, and the next day I think - 'what the hell were we thinking...'

you can always hear more from the album, and buy digital downloads of individual tracks at, or pick up a physical version of the CD by emailing me or dropping by

Monday, July 06, 2009

Jazz in Paris and live jazz clubs in Paris for the last weeks of July

A quick run down on another festival and an update on what's up with the clubs in the next two weeks. We've had a blast of hot weather in the last two weeks, so either the cool paris jazz club basements have been great to escape into, or the clubs that feature a little bit of air conditioning (not a standard feature in Paris) have been very popular!

A couple of upcoming highlights
Sophia Domancich is playing at L'Archipel on the 11th of July (,
17 bd de Strasbourg – 75010 Paris Metro Strasbourg / St Denis)

- you can hear her new work HERE.

Sophia has spent years in the jazz world, often working with West Indian and African singers and has jammed with players like Bobby Few and Steve Lacy. She's spent a decade working with some of the top players in the British Scene. I like her work a lot - its dramatic and almost orchestral and filled with emotion without being sentimental or losing any sense of musicality. She'd be a top pick for the upcoming week.

And we might as well keep things in a feminine note - ongoing at Sunset/Sunside there's the American Music Festival (which, confuses me since that's mostly what they play at Sunset Sunside, but whatever...) featuring Monica Passos, who is actually riffing on Brazilian and south american forms - she's an upbeat funky samba inspired singer currently based in Paris - check out her work HERE

Or watch her shake her circus thing here -

And ongoing in the summer festival update - I live up in the 18th Arrondisement in Paris, which is where real people live in Paris (I know, I know that's small minded and biased....) and we have our own wonderful fest up here 'Music and Gardens'

If you want to get out into Paris and see the Parisians in their most relaxed and community orientated I recommend this highly. Great music, families, wine and cheese and lovely settings in the old parks of Montmartre. I'll post the complete schedule in our 'What's On' Page, but check out Elise Dabrowski, in the Jardin of the Museum of Montmartre at 5pm (17h) on the 11th of July - its free, its lovely, and you get the added advantage of wandering through some of the most beautiful streets in the city.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Song a Day - 'Again'

today's song is (logically enough) track 2 on the album - Again by Lionel Newman

I fell in love with the song when I heard Mel Torme's version. I love the long and complex melodic lines and the enigmatic, ironic text. We were playing around with this and finally Thierry (who is from Madagascar and has played with Brazilian bands) suggested a slight Samba rhythm on the drums. Benoit joined in and suddenly we had this uptempo lilting version.

Apparently the song comes from a 1937 gangster movie called roadhouse, which is described as a 'noir cabaret'. I have yet to find a copy, but I'd love to see it one day.

you can always hear more from the album, and buy digital downloads of individual tracks at, or pick up a physical version of the CD by emailing me or dropping by

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Paris Jazz Clubs and Live Jazz in July

So its the season of festivals in Paris, but the jazz clubs in Paris and the live jazz in the city in the smaller venues won't be cooling down until August, when a good portion of the city closes down and heads for the countryside.

I'm just back from doing a run of concerts outside the city, so I'll start by giving a list of the festivals coming up - I'm super busy with rehearsals so it'll have to be one a day - and in a few days I'll start catching up with what's on at the clubs. Don't forget you can find a fairly comprehensive list of venues and their websites and contact info on our VENUES page.

All right then - festivals

First and foremost is the wonderful Paris Jazz fest going on right now in the lovely Parc Floral - here is a link to their English Language site. Its on every weekend, and I'm going to post the complete listings on our 'WHAT'S ON' page.

don't forget that its normal practice to come out to these festivals with a blanket, a bottle (or two) of wine and a picnic... I remember the first time I came to an outdoor festival in France and there was a security check - being from north America I assumed they were searching for alcohol - in fact the two security guards pulled my bottle of red out of the bag... and then complimented my taste in wine, and put it gently back and waved us back in....... ahhhh, nice to live in the land of the civilized...


Song a Day

putting up a song from the new album every day.

today's song is the lovely 'Lover Come Back to Me'

This slow interpretation was a reaction against the many versions of this song which are upbeat and bouncy, even though the words are totally desperately tragic. We took the first words of the song, 'The Sky Was Blue', as the title of the album - enigmatic, and kind of bittersweet.

you can always hear more from the album, and buy digital downloads of individual tracks at, or pick up a physical version of the CD by emailing me or dropping by

Monday, June 01, 2009

I'm Big in Japan

I'm just going to take a moment away from Jazz in Paris and Paris clubs. Since last night I googled to see if my new album of standards' digital distribution had been set up yet by my distributor - the wonderful indie group cdbaby - and instead found this eye popping page.

[ 前の作品 | 次の作品 ]
The Sky Was Blue
トラック 試聴 購入 / 価格
01: Lover Come Back to Me
試聴 試聴
02: Again
試聴 試聴
03: Court and Spark
試聴 試聴
04: Chelsea Hotel No. 2
試聴 試聴
05: Secret Heart
試聴 試聴
06: Pale Blue Eyes
試聴 試聴
07: Some of These Days
試聴 試聴
08: Whisper Not
試聴 試聴
09: Angel Eyes
試聴 試聴
10: Love Me or Leave Me
試聴 試聴
11: Sweethearts On Parade
試聴 試聴
12: Heaven
試聴 試聴
13: Court and Spark (Slight Return)
試聴 試聴

I can't really describe how much ridiculous pleasure it gives me to see the first commercial appearance of the album be in Yen and Japanese (see the actual page here )

I know the price because on tour in Japan I only ever figured out a couple of letters, but the sign for Yen ( 円 ) was the obvious one to need to understand. To memorize it I thought of him as a shy little character with one foot turned in awkwardly. I still find him a cute, endearing little guy. The price for one track is about the price for the pair of Japanese socks I'm currently wearing (don't know if that has any existential meaning)

So, I'm now expecting the big phone call from Tokyo. Hopefully the album will go to #1 with the harajuku crowd so I can tour smokey bars filled with folk who look like this:

or this

or this

meanwhile the album is now up for sale in a more comprehensible format at itunes and directly from cdbaby (just click on the links to get there), and you can listen directly to all the tracks at Myspace. No physical discs yet... just the ethereal digital realm...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jazz in the Paris Jazz Clubs in the last weeks of May

Well, I know its hard to persuade yourself to go into the dark confines of a Paris jazz club in these beautiful spring days, but there is a lot of live jazz going on in Paris, so I'll try and get you off those evening outdoor terraces. Just thank your lucky stars that the new no-smoking rule is being observed nowadays - those jazz clubs used to be dark and very, very smokey

Alright - last week I recommended a few free-jazz events - so this week perhaps we'll stay in the more traditional world.... but I want to encourage folks to explore a bit, so first I wanted to post a couple of events out of the centre of town. The north of Paris is a wonderful area to wander in - filled with artists and trendy stores and also very multicultural - so here is one little interesting evening...

this sounds like its going to be a beautiful and interesting night of music -- Tristan Mace and Walter Thompson -

I recommend you check out Tristan's myspace page here or Walter Thompson's site here. Tristan plays the Bandoneon, made famous by Astor Piazzola. And Thompson has developed a sort of performance like gestural language for creating music with small ensembles. And the space 'La Regard du Cygne' is a lovely intimate little theatre. Its up on Belleville in a wonderful part of town in the north of Paris - lots of great little restaurants all around. Get off at the Belleville metro and walk up the hill - its about 15 minutes walk, but just a great funky, stylish neighbourhood. 23rd of May at 8pm at Regard du Cygne, 210 rue de Belleville, Paris 20ème (click here for a map) (closest metro is Jourdain or Place des Fêtes)

Again up in the north of the city around Belleville, at the Studio de L'Hermitage there is a jazz vocalist - Maria Maccarini - who is doing Cole Porter classics from a fun pop point of view -

you can hear her work here at myspace . She's playing on the 18th/19th/20th at this venue at 8 rue de l'hermitage (click here for a map)

Next up - Back in the centre of town Sunset Sunside offers a CD launch from the amazing label ECM (known almost as much for their wonderful design, as for the music within the CDs). Jeff BALLARD on drums,Larry GRENADIER on double bass and Mark TURNER on tenor sax. 22nd of May at 8pm, 25 euros. Its nice stuff - hear it at myspace Here's their own blurb

"Fly is a new thing. The trio has the intimacy of a close up conversation and the depth of three free minds exploring and expanding on each other's ideas. Uncluttered creativity." - Chick Corea

Sky & Country is the ECM debut of the highly-regarded collective trio that drummer Jeff Ballard has memorably described as “an intimate band with teeth”. Modern jazz history is not short on highly charged sax/bass/drums trios, including those of Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler and Sam Rivers, but Fly is differently cast. Equal rights for all instruments is one goal. The saxophone seeks parity with bass and drums, and its refusal to fill all the space with sound brings another set of tensions into play. As writer Nate Chinen observed in a JazzTimes article, “This is music that that expands and contracts, effortlessly and dramatically and that balances the cerebral components of group improvisation with the more gut-level element of groove.”

and finally at Duc Des Lombards on the 21st of May, there's this lovely Japanese singer: Emi Oshima (click to hear).

I was startled to hear this great stylistic sound, sung in flawless English and French - I was on tour in Tokyo a year ago and had my share of stilted versions of standards in quirky English. But this is really lovely - very smooth and with nice arrangements. (venue details on our 'venues' page)

click over to our 'what's on' page to see our top recommendations for this month and enjoy the lovely spring weather.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Live Jazz and Jazz Clubs in Paris in May, '09

There is so much going on in live jazz in Paris and all the jazz clubs around Paris. This should be cool (for those who like some outside and free sounds)

The Kris Wanders Outfit
Kris WANDERS saxophone
Johanes BAUER trombone
Peter JACQUEMYN double bass
Mark SANDERS drums

wednesday May 13th at Instants Chavirés
12 euros
Les Instants Chavirés - 01 42 87 25 91 - 7 rue Richard Lenoir - Montreuil (M° Robespierre)

Click HERE for a Map

One of the most powerful tenor saxophonists, Kris Wanders was at the birth of European Improvised Music in the 1960's.

A member of the seminal Globe Unity Orchestra his collaborators of the time included Peter Brotzmann, Louis Moholo and Fred van Hove, Willem Breuker, Kees Hazevoet, Peter Kowald, Stu Martin, Han Bennink, Gunther Hampel , Irene Schweitzer, Joost Buis, Johannes Bauer, Dave Liebman etc… Now a resident of Melbourne, Australia,

Its just outside the 'walls' of Paris (that is, just beyond the huge highway that surrounds the city). But the metro will get you there in about 15 minutes from the centre of town, and personally I would take the metro to the next stop and walk back along Rue de Paris to get a taste of the new artist suburb that is Montreuil.... a very working class district which is being colonized by graphic designers, writers, dancers etc etc etc... very different from the centre of town.

And now I'm going to have to insist that you check this out - its a festival taking place in my favorite theatre in Paris, and maybe the world. The Bouffes du Nord was a run down space that specialized in wrestling and porn when the famous theatre director Peter Brook found it in the 70's. They renovated it.... a 'little' bit... and left it as a beautiful, state of the art, crumbling ruin of a modern theatre. And now every year 'Le Voix est Libre', on the 12th, 13th and 14th of May, takes it over and shows all sorts of variants on jazz and improvised musics. I'm going to post the complete schedule on the 'what's on' page

They really mix it up - world musicians jamming over vivaldi, and all sorts of different approaches to the improvised music. But it can be an unforgettable evening. Also, Bouffes Du Nord Theatre is right beside the Sri Lanken district of Paris, so arrive early to eat some wonderful south Indian food, or traditional french meals in the theatre restaurant.

and finally for those with a yearning for something more 'straight up' I'll point you towards the concert with the wonderful Archie Shepp at the Duc des Lombards. He's on stage from the 13th to the 16th. Things might get a little outside since he's playing with one of my favourites - Dave Burrell. Check out our venues page for addresses and websites

and enjoy the spring weather....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

the ides of April - Springtime in the jazz venues of Paris

A quick rundown on the next couple of weeks in the jazz clubs of Paris and live jazz in Paris. First things first though - Hurry! Hurry!! Get to the city quick! Because it is April. And it is Spring! In Paris! Its such a beautiful month here. You just can't go wrong with April in Paris (the song was right!) So grab one of those cheap flights and get your ass over here - it'll be worth it!

and now, Jazz Clubs and Bars and Cellars and Festivals in Paris ---

First - how can I pass up the chance to pass the word on about a fellow Canadian in Paris.

The lovely Ndidi O is a British Columbian singer (hailing from Burns Lake... now that's a tiny little town) with a Nigerian heritage. You can hear her at myspace and she'll be singing on the 28th and 29th of April at Duc Des Lombards and then in a few other venues around town

And before that (also at the Duc) there's the wonderful James CARTER Quintet featuring Corey WILKES ( James Carter - sax ; Corey Wilkes - trumpet ; Gerard Gibbs - piano ; Ralph Armstrong - double bass; Leonard King – drums)

They're playing on the 21st - 25 Euro a ticket... Check out our venues page for address and phone numbers, and here's a clip of them at the Vienna Jazz Fest

Now - if you want to get off the beaten track then I totally recommend this little fest

its deep in the heart of the African neighbourhood La Goutte D'Or up in the 18th. Not the most touristy of areas, but one of the most interesting places in Paris. Names after the light white wine that grew in the vineyards of the hills outside of the old city walls, now its a mishmash of working class homes, subsidized housing, fashion districts and artist lofts. And the Lavoir Moderne is a stronghold of everything Avant Garde that is still left in Paris.

here's a brief rundown on the untranslatable info on the festival. Head up early, get some great couscous, split a bottle of red. It'll be surprising and amazing.

16th April - A night of song, new creations. Open to Griot singers of today, where words leap and language comes alive - accordion, mandolin, theatre artists, poets

17th April, The Big Feelings
Solo voice and double bass. Elise Dabrowski brings a pure and unique sound to her rare musicality.

and a 'drunken' theatre show of childish and wise improvised scenes

18 avril A 'hommage' to George Brassens poet and songwriter extraordinary, with the cream of the crop of young french chanson singers.

Réservation : 01 42 52 09 14 ou – 06 24 18 83 41 ou

Sunday, April 05, 2009

My New Jazz Cabaret Work... with standards by Kander and Ebb, Shelton Brooks,

edited video of my latest Jazz Cabaret work - The Barker's Spiel. Songs of Tom Waits, Nirvana, Jacques Brel...

first presented at the London Fringe Festival, The Barker's Spiel plays with cliches and stereotypes of cabaret and Jazz and lounge singers, mixing and matching singers and songs.

the London Free Press says

"Bremner Duthie promises that miracles will happen as he opens his new show The Barker's Spiel at the London Fringe. He also offers a "side order of belief" and a "tiny sliver of hope."From carnival barker to Las Vegas performer to Berlin Cabaret singer, Duthie gives us the scoop on life as an entertainer. Everyone's looking to be entertained -- and Duthie serves up wares such as white-fingered monkeys and red velvet hats, juggling, singing and dancing…..

Saturday, April 04, 2009

We're back - we're nationwide! The best jazz Bars and Cafes in Paris

Well, I guess with the web these days that would be 'worldwide'

So, before I get down to reviewing the jazz clubs in Paris or talking about the new jazz in Paris, let me just say that finally my album of standards is mastered, and now graphics for the album are in design and a version is winging its way towards the digital distributor and we're filling out forms to pay for the rights to the songs.... All the things that you have to do after you do all the artsy stuff of singing and making music. If you want to take a listen then check out the link on the right to the album - its called 'The Sky Was Blue' (the first words from that wonderful standard 'lover come back to me'...

meanwhile in Paris. There is sooooo much to see and do in April. I'm going to start off with another wee shout out for this great site It's all in French, but the language is pretty simple, and it'll give you listings for all the 'open mic' jams that are happening around town. For example 'Autour de Midi.. et Minuit' (which is a great little basement club just down from the legendary cafe where 'Amelie Poulain' worked in Montmartre) - they have a Jam for swing and Be-Bop players every tuesday beginning at 10pm. So if you're tempted why not pack up your instrument, or beg, borrow or steal one here and become part of jazz history playing in the clubs of Paris. All the jams I've been to are welcoming and cheerful affairs...

As you know if you've read this blog before I'm not a huge fan of Jazz Manouche, or Django Reinhardt style playing. But I'll admit that could be because every guitarist in France thinks they can 'naturally' play this music so I've seen a lot of indifferent Jazz Manouche... however this little festival looks interesting

I don't know the players, but the cafe is a totally charming spot to see jazz and the neighbourhood is one the most romantic in Paris and even some half decent playing can be improved with a good bottle of wine and a steak frites.

This should be cool -

John Edwards

- photo jmm sur

John is releasing an album of solo bass and is doing a CD release concert on the 11th at Souffle Continu (Souffle Continu - 20 / 22 rue Gerbier - 75011 Paris - T. 01 40 24 17 21, M° Voltaire ou Philippe Auguste, - I love the name of this club - how would we translate that? - Either Never-Ending-Breath, or the technical players term 'Circular Breathing'... Anyway, John will be on at 18:30 (6.30pm) Here's a clip of him playing with Evan Parker

And finally, a little big band -

Inama is a Sextet of young french players. I'll be heading out to hear them for the first time live - you can get a taste of them at - a sort of free jazz with elements of pop and rock thrown in there. They're on stage a couple of time in the next weeks. on 10/04/09 at 20h00 (8pm) at Centre Culturel Mongallet
4, passage Stainville, 75012 PARIS, 9/7€ and 25/04/09 à 20h30, LA CHAPELLE DES LOMBARDS, 19, rue de Lappe, 75011 PARIS, 10/8€

enjoy April in Paris

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Out of it

Hi All
I'm stepping away from reviewing jazz in Paris and jazz clubs in Paris for a few weeks since I'm deep in rehearsals for the upcoming shows, so I won't be posting here again till April - but browse the old listings and our venues page up on the right and you'll find lots of suggestions for great ongoing music and clubs and players in Paris. And I'll be back shortly!
all the best

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Champagne at the Chope - Gypsy Jazz in Paris at the Puces

Django Rules in Paris! - Our beloved gypsy Chope has reopened to join all the other great jazz clubs in Paris after 4 long months of renovation...yesterday, all the regular faces were there, toasting the spirit of Django with champagne. even the sometimes-taciturn bartender was all smiles, as Ninine Garcia stepped back into his usual corner and served up his trademark manouche guitar.

as for the renovation, well...the tiny tattered bar area is larger, but the shiny new flatscreen televisions, so that everyone can watch the music from every corner of the room, seem like a good idea taken too far. and the walls are now decorated with some beautiful guitars behind kitsch glass vitrines, which takes some getting used to. everything's a bit too new right now...but that'll wear off soon enough, when the crowds hit, this summer. on the upside, the red wine is a thousand times better than it used to be, there's now more space for cutting the rug, and the toilets, ah, they really did need some renovating.

any weekend, head up to the Puces de St-Ouen, and have a drink at the Chope des Puces,122 rue des Rosiers, music every Sat & Sun, 2pm - 7pm (free--contribute to the hat)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Django Symphony

Now this is going to be a cool addition to the live jazz concerts in Paris..

Symphonic Django/ Django Symphonique is the first ever edition of the legendary Django Reinhardt´s music orchestrated for symphony orchestra. The idea originated from Jon Larsen and was developed in cooperation with the festival Christianssand String Swing. The arrangements are by Per Ekdahl and were first performed live by Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra featuring Florin Niculescu (RO) and Stochelo Rosenberg (NL) as soloists.

check out more info here at their website

and as a plus, its on at the Cirque d'Hiver - an amazing historic building in the middle of the city.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Live Jazz in Paris and Jazz clubs in Paris for January 2009 - Happy New Year

So, 2009 looks like live jazz in Paris is going to be great despite (or maybe because of) the global downturn. Jazz clubs in Paris are never going to be making that much money, so hopefully having a few less tourists turn up won't change their situation too much... like the whole jazz world, we're used to operating on a shoestring!

That said, January is always a slow month, but I think there is some great stuff going on - so, here's some links and some recommendations for the next couple of weeks. As usual, explore the Venues page and you'll find lots of clubs in your Quartier of Paris and you can make your own choices!

This is a nice choice- free, apart from the price of a return ticket on the RER - and, if you're inclined, you can combine it with a day at Euro-Disney, since its one RER stop away. (though why come to Paris and then spend a day at Disney I've never understood - but hey, its there, so why not.... I guess) Or if members of the family are looking for that European mall shopping experience you can always head out early to the immense designer discount mall at Val d'Europe before catching some music... Anyway... - At the Val d'Europe stop at the Médiathèque du val d’Europe there's a nice sounding Trio - on guitar N'guyen Le, vibraphone, Philippe Mace, and drums and percussion Joel Allouche - I always love that crossover world and it seems that they're going to be playing around with vietnamese traditional musics.... Its free but you'll just need to make reservations - 01 60 43 66 28.

In town, here is a very cute idea - At Sunside, every Sunday for January and February at 4pm they will have Jazz for families and kids.

they're going to do an 'homage' to a different jazz legend, or jazz theme evey week and the idea is really to have families and kids and turn the younger set on to jazz. So, if you're in the city with the young ones, it might be an event for you. And, for the older set who want to stick around - and 9pm there will be a jazz jamm based around the theme, so you'll have lots players dropping by with their instruments looking for a chance to play.

so - here's the lineup for the next few weeks...
le 11 janvier : "hommage à Dizzy Gillespie”
le 18 janvier : "hommage à George Gershwin”
le 25 janvier : Laurent Courthaliac Trio plays Sonny Rollins

Philippe Soirat - drums ; Mathias Allamane - upright bass ; Laurent Courthaliac - piano


Slave and Master

The blogs on pause for a week while I finish work on the album - today I'm off to spend the day in front of a set of 20,000 dollar audio speakers listening to myself - I'll be hanging out while James Paul of Rogue studios, 'masters' my album.

Wikipedia defines this as "a form of audio post-production - the process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device (the master); the source from which all copies will be produced (via methods such as pressing, duplication or replication). After the advent of tape it was found that master recordings could be optimized by making fine adjustments to the balance and equalization prior to the cutting of the master disc. Mastering became a highly skilled craft and it was widely recognized that good mastering could make or break a commercial recording"

When pressed for more details James defined it as 'I give him some money, he sits in front of a set of 20,000 dollar speaker for hours, and then he gives me an album that sounds amazing'....

beyond that it seems to be witchcraft and magic...

basically as far as I can see its the process of finding a middle balance for the sound on the album so it rings true on every kind of speaker - the cheapo transistor, or the ultra high end, or the car stereo... cutting some frequencies, adding others...

it should be a fascinating and strange few hours