Saturday, January 27, 2018

Jazz in Paris

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. (...) Paris was always worth it and you received a return for whatever you brought to it."
Ernest Hemingway, 1960
A Moveable Feast

“Since the dawn of jazz, there's been an ongoing love affair between American jazz stars and Paris.  French audiences were first to revere and treat jazz performers as great artists and many musicians preferred living, playing, and recording there.  The Jazz In Paris series reissues those exceptional titles that were recorded in, and are cherished by the capital city.”
- Verve Music Group

"Jazz in Paris", a collection of 100 recordings, retraces the epic tale of the jazz musicians listened to, and cherished, by the capital throughout the past seven decades.”
Cover photo : "canal Saint Martin", 50's.

Does it get any better than Jazz and Paris?  The city has such a rich history, so many beautiful venues and engaging cultural qualities including a love affair with Jazz musicians that dates back almost to the inception of the music 100 years ago.

Representative of this latter fact are the 100 recordings issued by Universal France as part of its Jazz in Paris series.

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles is by no means expert about the recordings in Jazz in Paris series but we did locate two, interesting overviews of its significance as well as a listing of the recordings that comprise it. All three are included below.

The insert notes to both of these CDs are by Alain Tercinet.

Jazz in Paris – Don Byas - Laura

© -Alain Tercinet, copyright protected; all rights reserved

“Don Byas must have kept surprising memories of his arrival in Paris in 1946. A long expedition with a group led by Don Redman had taken him through Denmark and Belgium to Switzerland and a Germany in ruins. The final halt in the tour — an apotheosis as it turned out — was to be a three-week booking in Paris. Woefully, as soon as the news broke, there was an outcry from most bandleaders and the Musicians' Union as well. The result of the uproar was that, in the end, Don Redman was simply banned from honoring his contract.

Of course, the economic situation at the time was hardly bright, but such a reception appeared to many to be particularly untimely — this was the first, almost exclusively black American orchestra to appear in the French capital since the Liberation. In the end, there was a compromise — the band's concerts would be limited in number, and the band wouldn't be a big band, but a smaller-sized formation.

Among the musicians who escaped the cut there was a saxophonist who made a great impression. With his elbows on the bar of one of his favourite haunts, the Beaulieu, he introduced himself: "My name is Carlos Wesley Byas. I've always lived under the sign of music, my father played seven instruments and my mother played piano; as for me, I don't know now; I think I've always played tenor." It was a little white lie, but who cared? After all, hadn't he been chosen by Count Basic himself to replace Lester Young in his band in 1941? Byas' mastery of the tenor, and its language, later caused Johnny Griffin (a connoisseur), to call him "The Tatum of the saxophone".

Like many others in Redman's orchestra, Don Byas forgot to return across the Atlantic (even Don Redman delayed his return to write arrangements for Alix Combelle's band). Byas remained permanently. After a few bookings took him first to Belgium, then Spain, he finally settled in France towards the end of 1948, and he became a familiar figure not only in Paris, in St-Germain-des-Pr6s, but also on the Riviera, where he could be seen in the port of St Tropez, sporting a mask, tuba, flippers... and an underwater spear-gun.

During his first trip to France, Don had recorded a few sides (under the corporate name of "Don Byas and His Re-Boppers"), for a small label called Blue Star, owned by a pianist, bandleader and unrepentant jazz-lover named Eddie Barclay. With just a trio behind him, the tenor had recorded the theme for Otto Preminger's classic movie "Laura". Don Byas breathed a softly provocative sensuality into the melody that was a perfect musical balance for the screen heroine, played by Gene Tierney. That was all it took for Don Byas to be recognized (rightly so) as the ideal ballad-player: Smoke gets in your eyes, Over the rainbow, Night and day, or Georgia on my mind, which became one of Ray Charles' favorites. The subtle, rare art of the ballad-player — knowing how to alternate restraint and provocation (or mix them with care­fully-measured doses) — was to remain forever linked to Don Byas' name, thanks to improvisations that transcended the songs of Gershwin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern without ever betraying them.

Alain Tercinet”

Jazz in Paris – Kenny Clarke Sextet Plays Andre’ Hodeir

© -Alain Tercinet, copyright protected; all rights reserved

“In an internal memo dated December 1957, Boris Vian informed the Philips management of the progress made since the sessions he'd produced: "One should note that the sales figures of 'Kenny Clarke Sextet plays Hodeir' are rather good here, and that in America there are words of extreme praise in the press." The "Charles Cros Academy" had awarded the album a prize of course, and it had also received the distinction of the "Jazz Hot Award", but such decorations are no guarantee of a record's commercial success, however remarkable its music. All the more so since the works of Andre Hodeir were not particularly aimed at a wide audience, and the group he led, the "Jazz Group de Paris", remained quite marginal. The deciding factor was the "patronage" of Kenny "Klook" Clarke (whose popularity was undeniable), an element that incited a number of people to listen to such reputedly difficult music — they discovered the music to be totally exciting, and the album containing it could be listened to by everybody.

Klook's first visit to Paris had been in 1944 ; at the time he was in the American Army's 13th Special Service, and he was accompanying a variety show (staged at the Madeleine theatre) called "Jive's A Poppin'", a revue sponsored by the army. He'd returned four years later with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, and Klook had stayed a few months in the capital, just long enough to record and play with the French Be-Bop Minstrels, who learned a great deal from the inventor of modern drumming. He was back again, with the Miles Davis / Tadd Dameron Quintet, for 1949's "Salon du Jazz", and then had to wait another two years before returning to the cradle, obsessed all the while by the Old Continent's sweet way of life.

In March 1956 Michel Legrand was in New York with Maurice Chevalier, and he told Kenny Clarke of a proposal to join Jacques Helian's orchestra. No sooner said than done, and this time Kenny stayed in Paris for good, moving into suburbia with a house in Montreuil-sous-Bois. As an integral part of the European jazz scene, of which he was one of the essential figures, Klook was to be seen and heard at the Club St-Germain or the Blue Note, accompanying American and French musicians, and also playing on numerous sessions.
"Kenny Clarke plays Andre Hodeir" went into history. The meeting between the drummer and the arranger-composer dated from 1949, when the soundtrack for the film "Autour d'un recif" was being recorded. This time, Andre Hodeir had decided to go further and more deeply into the approach adopted by Miles Davis' famous Nonet: to work on integrating the solos within the body of the performance, in the context of a middle-sized group ; he even took account of the bass and drum parts in a score that included solos and duets written entirely in the style of an improvisation (Jeru, Tahiti, When Lights Are Low, 'Round About Midnight), and which attempted the transposition (Blue Serge, Swing Spring, The Squirrel, Oblique) of "classical" writing procedures within a purely jazz context (which he was careful not to evoke). On tunes such as Eronel, Bemsha Swing, On a riff and Cadenze, primacy was given to movement, and the development of the sound figures preferred to lyricism. Trumpeter Christian Bellest made this enthusiastic comment on his approach : "Andre Hodeir's music doesn't resemble anyone else's ; it doesn't belong to any school on the other side of the Atlantic, and that, with the exception of the great Django, is unique in European jazz."

Alain Tercinet”

© -Volkher Hofmann, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Jazz went to Paris and other places in Europe to live. That might sound funny to many of those who don't spend a lot of time listening to jazz, but it's true. Although its birthplace was elsewhere, many musicians either relocated to Europe or found a more than appreciative audience there whereas in the US they were at times perhaps shunned or at best ignored. I think it was Dizzy Gillespie who once said something to the effect that jazz was too good for the United States. Without wanting to get too much into the racial implications here, it is a fact that at various times in US history, black (jazz) musicians had more than their share of problems, segregation more often than not relegating them to the back entrances of places they were playing at - and that was only a small part of the problem(s).

Paris, which had developed into the jazz center of Europe already in the beginning of the 20th century, offered many of these musicians a safe haven as well as a permanent home (later, Denmark, Sweden and sometimes Germany usurped that role) and jazz thrived because of it. One can even be as bold as to state that without Paris and Europe, jazz might never have been recognized as an art form. It was in Europe that jazz had gained that kind of recognition and, as far as I recall, it was jazz critics such as Leonard Feather (England) and Dan Morgenstern (Austria), who spent their entire lifetimes promoting it as an art form in the United States.

No matter what your take on jazz history is, it remains a fact that we all owe the bigwigs at Universal for releasing this wonderful run of spectacular recordings from mostly the 1950s and 1960s. If you got with the program right from the start, you had the chance to pick up over 100 regular reissues of classic LPs/EPs, a few more that were added "out of series", as well as four absolutely beautiful boxed sets that collected the best from the previous runs on 3 CDs plus a wonderful booklet and perhaps an extra recording or two each. One had the chance to buy these reissues separately or, for a limited time, in two slip-cased editions that either collected 25 or 75 of them and, if you kept your ears close to the ground, you will have the chance starting March 2007 to complete the series with the last 15 CDs coming up. There even was a catalog CD and a DVD (not seen by me) and if you look at the grand picture, this is definitely one of the most consistent and exciting reissue series of the 21st century, bar none. Kudos to Universal France for pulling it off.

Each CD is housed in a digipack cover, carries the "Gitanes Jazz Productions" logo, was carefully re-mastered, sports a wonderful Paris photo from that time period and includes a booklet in French and English with liner notes and complete session information. The spines are quite colorful and for packaging fetishists like me, the entire run brightens up a collection considerably.”

- Volkher Hofmann

© -Kevin Whitehead/, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Jazz in Paris
 Kevin Whitehead

Even this former Amsterdammer will admit that no European city has the same allure for American jazz musicians as Paris. It was ever so: from the moment black Army bands like James Reese Europe's brought syncopated music to France during World War I, jazz players have found work, appreciation, validation and refuge there. The French saw themselves in the music right away: in New Orleans' French heritage, and in the iconic use of the saxophone, which was invented on French soil (albeit by a Belgian). They may even have heard, as some linguists do, the origins of the word jazz in their verb jaser — to make idle chatter.

Expatriate musicians soaked up the inspiration that comes from living in a rich culture whose national history dwarfs the States' relatively short lifespan. (I experienced that myself, in
Amsterdam, living for a time in a house that was 132 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed.) That burnish and patina on everything can't help but find its way into the music. 

To get a sense of the city's allure, look at Martin Ritt's 1961 film
Paris Blues, with Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as jazz musicians in exile, enjoying the romance of cold-water flats, exploiting their exotic status, contemplating the big question should-I-stay-or-should-I-go, eagerly jamming with a luminary from home (Louis Armstrong) and exotic locals (a Django Reinhardt knock-off). Much as I like Dexter Gordon's deft impersonation of himself as jazz expat in 1986's 'Round Midnight, French director Bertrand Tavernier didn't have Ritt's outsider's eye for the place; Paris Blues brims with unfamiliar vistas of the old city, in place of the usual postcard views or Tavernier's studio back lot. 

And Ritt's black-and-white film still feels like the '50s, a period when American jazz musicians felt particularly welcome in
Paris. (French musicians, feeling overrun, began to push back in the mid-'60s.) New Orleans Frenchman Sidney Bechet and pioneering bebop drummer Kenny Clarke came to stay; other Americans like Lucky Thompson or Mary Lou Williams passed through, hooking up with locals on sessions and recording dates.

For a couple of years now, we CD collectors who could find them have been scarfing up the 80-and-counting import compilations in the "Jazz in Paris" series; now they're available here, as in right here. (The bulk of the music was recorded in the '50s for the Vogue label, but a few recordings come from earlier or later, or from other French companies' vaults). Rather than attempt to survey the whole line, let me plug a few favorites.

Mary Lou Williams, in the midst of an early '50s slump, sounds temporarily reinvigorated on a 1954 trip documented on
 I Made You Love Paris, a round-up of trio, quartet (with singer Beryl Bryden) and quintet sides. As ever, Williams excels at multi-hued blues that split the difference between earthy and elegant: "Mary Lou's Blues" is a boogie-woogie that takes a daytrip around the bebopper's favorite chord cycle, the circle of fifths. 

To hear that continental sheen that might attach itself to an American's tone, hear the wondrous sides that tenor saxophonist
 Don Byas cut for the Blue Star label after he moved to
France in 1946. Byas came out of the Coleman Hawkins ballad tradition — rapturous and rhapsodic — but if anything he's even more suave; his streamlined, less fussy tone has its own luminous depths. Like Hawk he's no slouch uptempo, but slow numbers really draw him out. Byas has a lovely way of lingering over the opening notes of a melody, unaccompanied and out of tempo, so it can take a few seconds to identify what tune he's playing. Start with the compilation Laura, and then when you want more, work your way through En Ce Temps-la and his tracks on the grab-bag Jazz in Paris: Bebop. 

Fellow tenor Lucky Thompson came for an extended visit in the spring of 1956, and from the recorded evidence saw much more of studios than he did the
Eiffel Tower or the Champs Elysees. (He liked the vibe enough to move his family to Paris a year later.) With his pleasingly light, limpid tone and lyrical sensibility, Lucky fit right in with a couple of Parisian leaders enamored of mid-size American cool jazz bands: pianist Henri Renaud (who leads the tentet and quartet on Modern Jazz Group) and one of Paris's busiest drummers (septet and tentet on Lucky Thompson with the Dave Pochonet All-Stars). 

Not long after, Thompson was among the modernists to rediscover the practically archaic soprano sax; surely that decision owes something to the enormous popularity of
France's adopted fils Sidney Bechet. Circa 1920 Bechet was jazz's first great saxophonist. Living outside Paris in the '50s, he recorded often with a disciple's band — hear Sidney Bechet et Claude Luter. Clarinetist Luter's band is good enough — as when meticulously recreating King Oliver's 1923 "Snake Rag" with its myriad unaccompanied horn breaks — but it scarcely matters. With his vibrant, vibrato- and tremolo-laden tone, and his powerful innate swing, Bechet could have fronted the Archies for all he cared, and his electrifying sound benefits from the modern recording technology. 

There were other trans-Atlantic alliances; French composer/critic André Hodeir wrote a set of contrapuntal arrangements of jazz tunes by himself,
 Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan and others — including a witty, scale-running take on Miles Davis's proto-modal "Swing Spring." Hodeir then had the good fortune to get the ultra-swinging drummer who set the bop style to spark the mid-size band; that session is now known as Kenny Clarke's Sextet Plays André Hodeir. Again, cool jazz is a touchstone. But given cool's Americanized French-impressionist harmonies, how could les jaseurs ignore it? 

The French and soloists from a few other European countries are well-represented in the series, which includes some '30s and '40s sides by that most Parisian of jazz musicians, that poet of the guitar
 Django Reinhardt. But the series also features two little-known successors even guitar nuts may not know. On his '50s sides Reinhardt's protégé and film composer Henri Crolla has some of Django's gypsy flair with a more modern sense of harmony, but minus the battering-ram attack. He's like Reinhardt using medium-light not heavy strings, and with a less chunky beat — enough to sound like his own man, in his own time. (My intro was the irresistibly titled Quand Refleuriront Les Lilas Blancs?, or, when will the white lilacs bloom again?) 

Hungarian gypsy and electric picker
 Elek Bacsik claimed to be a distant Reinhardt relative, a good metaphor for their musical relationship. His stinging vibrato can't help but remind you of the master, and his similarly idiosyncratic, outsider's approach to jazz stamps every performance. But in the early '60s, as heard on Guitar Conceptions and Nuages, he mixes the fireside romance with contemporary, amplified jazz-guitar influences, and a modern repertoire: Miles' "Milestones," Nat Adderley's "Work Song" — check out Daniel Humair's drum solo, where you can hear the melody in every bar — and odd-meter tunes from Dave Brubeck's book: "Blue Rondo a la Turk," "Take Five," "Three to Get Ready." For "Milestones," "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo," Kenny Clarke's on drums to ensure everything's sweet as a raspberry croissant.

A Complete List of Items

“Note: The following single CDs were/are available. At some point, two boxed sets were available that collected most of these single CDs listed below (a 75-CD boxed set and a 25-CD boxed set). Both of these boxed sets are still available, albeit infrequently, usually from Amazon marketplace dealers.

001 - Louis Armstrong - The Best Live Concert Vol. 1
002 - Louis Armstrong - The Best Live Concert Vol. 2
003 - Miles Davis - Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud
004 - Donald Byrd - Byrd in Paris (live)
005 - Donald Byrd - Parisian Thoroughfare (live)
006 - Buck Clayton/Peanuts Holland/Charlie Singleton - Club Session
007 - Bill Coleman - From Boogie to Funk
008 - Chet Baker - Broken Wing
009 - Dizzy Gillespie - The Giant
010 - Slide Hampton - Exodus
011 - Django Reinhardt - Django et Compagnie
012 - Django Reinhardt - Swing from Paris
013 - Django Reinhardt - Swing 39
014 - Mary Lou Williams - I Made You Love Paris
015 - Elek Bacsik - Guitar Conceptions
016 - René Thomas - The Real Cat
017 - Toots Thielemans - Blues pour Flirter
018 - Buddy Banks - Jazz de Chambre/Bobby Jaspar - Quartet Barclay
019 - Les Blue Stars - Pardon My English/Henri Salvador - Plays the Blues
020 - Harold Nicholas/June Richmond/Andy Bey - Chanteurs-Chanteuses
021 - Don Byas - Laura
022 - Sidney Bechet/Claude Luter - Self-Titled
023 - Sonny Criss - Mr. Blues pour Flirter
024 - Guy Lafitte - Blue and Sentimental
025 - Henri Renaud - New sound at 'The Boeuf sur le Toit' (live)/ Zoot Sims - Quintet Barclay
026 - Barney Wilen - Jazz sur Seine
027 - Bobby Jaspar - Modern Jazz au Club Saint Germain
028 - Lucky Thompson - Modern Jazz Group
029 - Pierre Michelot - Round about a Bass
030 - Oscar Peterson ft. Stéphane Grappelli - Volume 1
031 - Oscar Peterson ft. Stéphane Grappelli - Volume 2
032 - Michel Legrand - Paris Jazz Piano
033 - Claude Bolling - Plays the Original Piano Greats
034 - Rhoda Scott/Kenny Clarke - Self Titled
035 - Eddie Louiss - Bohemia after Dark
036 - Memphis Slim & Willie Dixon - Aux Trios Mailletz
037 - Sammy Price/Lucky Thompson - Paris Blues (live)
038 - Earl Hines - Paris One Night Stand
039 - Kenny Clarke - Plays André Hodéir
040 - Art Blakey - Paris Jam Session (live)
041 - Eddie Louiss/Yvan Julien - Porgy & Bess
042 - Stéphane Grappelli - Improvisations
043 - Jean-Luc Ponty - Jazz Long Playing
044 - Lionel Hampton and his French New Sound - Vol. 1 (live)
045 - Lionel Hampton and his French New Sound - Vol. 2 (live)
046 - Lionel Hampton - Ring dem Vibes
047 - Various (Nicholas/Archey/Attenoux) - Classic Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés
048 - Various (Bernard Peiffer/Bernard Zacharias) - Modern Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés
049 - Barney Wilen/Alain Goraguer - Jazz & Cinéma Vol. 1
050 - Art Blakey/JatP/George Arvanitas - Jazz & Cinéma Vol. 2
051 - Louis Armstrong - And Friends
052 - Dizzy Gillespie - Cognac Blues
053 - Chet Baker - Quartet Plays Standards
054 - Hubert Rostaing/Maurice Meunier - Clarinettes à Saint-Germain-des-Prés
055 - Hubert Fol/Michel de Villers/Sonny Criss - Saxophones à Saint-Germain-des-Prés
056 - Stéphane Grappelli - Plays Cole Porter
057 - René Thomas - Meeting Mister Thomas
058 - Django Reinhardt - Swing 48
059 - Django Reinhardt - Django's Blues
060 - Henri Crolla - Notre Ami Django
061 - Art Simmons/Ronnell Bright - Piano aux Champs-Elysées
062 - Lou Bennett - Pentecostal Feeling
063 - Rhoda Scott - Live at the Olympia (live)
064 - Willie « The Lion » Smith - Music on My Mind
065 - Bernard Pfeiffer - La Vie en Rose
066 - Raymond Fol - Les 4 Saisons
067 - René Urtréger - Joue Bud Powell
068 - Lionel Hampton - Mai 1956
069 - Art Blakey - 1958 Paris Olympia (live)
070 - Le Jazz Groupe de Paris - Joue André Hodeir
071 - Gainsbourg & Goaraguer/Hodeir/Humair Soultette - Jazz & Cinéma Vol. 3
072 - Don Byas/Tyree Glenn/Howard McGhee sextet/James Moody Quintet - Bebop
073 - Lucky Thompson - With
Dave Pochonet All Stars
074 - Alain Goraguer - Go-Go-Goraguer
075 - Earl Hines - In Paris
076 - Michel de Villers/Claude Bolling - Danse à Saint-Germain-des-Prés
077 - Lester Young - Le dernier message
078 - Don Byas - En ce Temps-Là
079 - Stan Getz Quartet - In Paris (live)
080 - Henri Criolla - Begin the Beguine
081 - Elek Bacsik - Nuages
082 - Stéphane Grappelli/Stuff Smith - Stuff and Steff
083 - Sarah Vaughan - Vaughan & Violins
084 - Dizzy Gillespie - Dizzy Gillespie & his Operatic Strings Orchestra
085 - Bobby Jaspar - Jeux de Quartes
086 - Gerard Badini - The Swing Machine
087 - Stéphane Grappelli - Django
088 - Gus Viseur - De Clinchy à Broadway
089 - Henri Crolla - Quand Refleuriront les Lilas Blancs?
090 - Django Reinhard - Nuit de Saint-Germain-des-Prés
091 - Django Reinhard - Nuages
092 - Jack Diéval - Jazz au Champs-Elysées
093 - Bernard Pfeiffer - Plays Standards
094 - Blossom Dearie - The Pianist/Les Blue Stars - Les Blue Stars
095 - Sammy Price/Price & Doc Cheatham - Play George Gershwin
096 - Max Roach - Parisian Sketches
097 - André Hodeir - Jazz et Jazz
098 - Wetzel/Gorageur/de Villers/Solal - Jazz & Cinéma Vol. 4
099 - Wilson/Chittison/Polo Trio/Charlie Lewis - Harlem Piano in Montmartre
100 - Various - Jazz sous L'Occupation
101 - Joe Newman/Cootie Williams - Jazz at Midnight
102 - Django Reinhardt- Place de Brouckère
103 - Buck Clayton (with Hal Singer) - Buck Clayton and Friends
104 - Kid Ory- At the Théatre des Champs-Elysées
105 - Sonny Stitt- Sits In with the Oscar Peterson Trio
106 - Guy Lafitte - Blues
107 - Stan Getz/Michel Legrand - Communications '72
108 - Sammy Price - Good Paree
109 - George Wein - Midnight Concert at the Olympia
110 - Raymond Fol - Echoes of Harlem
111 - Maurice Vander - Piano Jazz
112 - Henri Crolla/Hubert Rostang/André Hodeir - Jazz et Cinéma Volume Vol. 5
113 - Stéphane Grapelli - The Nearness of You (See "Boxed Compilations Sets" below)
Note: Those last 10 reissues (up to No. 112) were also supposed to be the last reissues in the series. The editors stated that there was no more material in the vaults to be released. Since then, No. 113 has been added and a bunch of "out of series" double-CDs appeared. There have also been a slew of boxed sets. One could say that Universal France is milking this excellent series for what it's worth.”

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