Bonjour de Paris ...
“She conducted the band with her ass.”
So it was on this day, July 2nd 2012, that Leslie and I arrived in Paris with two suitcases and no clue what awaited us. At that point we weren’t even sure if we would receive the visas that would allow us the rights of residency and work. About two weeks later we received a congratulatory email requesting that we come to the French Consulate in L.A. to have the visas stamped into our passports. During that time I remember lying in bed unable to sleep, no surprise there, and having the nightly 3:00 am panic attacks as I worried if we had made a huge mistake. The night the email I was waiting for arrived it was around 2:00 am. Something told me to get out of bed and check my email. After reading it I was about ten feet off of the ground as if a huge weight had been lifted from me. I woke Leslie up to tell her the good news and to begin making arrangements to fly back to L.A. In those days we were living in a fifth floor walk up studio apt. on Rue des Tournelles in the 4th arrondissement. We were very near Place de la Bastille in a neighbourhood that we really liked. A lot has transpired since that day. We’ve lived in four apartments in Paris, the current one in Saint Germain des Prés since February 2014. Leslie has made a home for us both inside and outside on the terrace. We have travelled for work to four continents, and we have experienced a lot of “firsts” as we made our way in a new land. At this point we are very fortunate to have five places in Paris where we work on a regular basis that are within a ten minute, or less, walk from our home. All of the while we have been side by side, in the beginning for literally several months, and when one of us went crazy (mostly me) the other was able to smooth things out. Working together has required that we have both a professional relationship as well as a personal one. We were fortunate that we were able to agree on how both would play out. It hardly seems possible but now it is ten years later, the time has flown by and we both feel like this was a very good move. Missing our families and friends has been the biggest price that we have paid. (Leslie might add that a CVS store somewhere in Paris wouldn’t hurt.) This newsletter has been a nice way to stay connected with you all. We always appreciate your replies and when you send us updates on your lives.
View of our home in Saint Germain des Près.
Leslie's garden on our terrace.
In April we had three wonderful days in Cassis, FR. Our hotel room had a view of the sea and harbor. Everything was very walkable so we explored the town, spent an afternoon at the beach and took a boat cruise out to see some coves and different nearby sights. We had so much fun that we booked a few days there in early September. Our work schedule pretty much takes a summer vacation off the table which is fine because every beach town in that area is very crowded during July and August.
View of the sea from our hotel room, the beach and on the boat in Cassis, FR.
Earlier in June Leslie worked in Dijon and Beaune with Philippe Duchemin as well as in La Garenne-Locombes with Raphaël Lemmonier’s band. On Fête de la Musique (June 21st) we did a duo concert on a terrace with a great view of a park in Courbevoie, FR. Shameless Plug Warning: Our Funky Ella band will be back in Courbevoie at the Cabaret Jazz Club https://www.sortiracourbevoie.fr/detail/1863/leslie-lewis-funky-ella on December 12th.
At the end of June I spent three days just outside of Geneva in Annemasse, France. I was working with vocalist Ursuline Kairson whose credits stretch from Broadway shows in NYC to concerts in Europe and Asia. One of the benefits of being on the road with new people is the that you hear new “musician stories” and I got a great one from Ursuline. So while working in Bangkok she met an American pianist who had a hotel gig with a singer who apparently was able to conduct the band with her ass. I had tears in my eyes from laughter.
The above photos are from the Funky Ella concert at Les 2 Pianos in Paris, Leslie & I at Chez Papa Jazz Club, and a sign painted on the wall in my hotel room in Annemasse FR.
This summer we are excited for the Funky Ella band to be at Jazz A Vienne https://jazzavienne.com/fr/programmation-2022/funky-ella-leslie-lewis following that Leslie will be going to Nimes, FR to work with Philippe Duchemin. During July we will be at Chez Papa Jazz Club in Paris for seven nights, one of which will be a piano trio. Also in July Leslie is at the Hotel Lutecia and we are working with bassist Peter Giron at Les 2 Pianos. Funky Ella will be at the La Baule Jazz Festival https://labaulejazzfestival.fr. Leslie and I will travel with Jean-Philippe Naeder, our percussionist in Funky Ella, to Gien, FR for a trio concert at Chateau Musée de Gien https://www.facebook.com/chateaumuseedegien/posts/1231480717258724?notif_id=1652175028982525¬if_t=page_tag&ref=notif Later in August Leslie and I will spend four days La Petite Pierre for the Au Grès Du Jazz festival https://www.festival-augresdujazz.com/artiste/conference-musicale-la-voix-dans-le-jazz/. Somewhere in August we are hoping to sneak down to Bordeaux for a few days of downtime with Peter and Nicole Giron.
The top two photos are Jazz A Vienne and the La Baule Jazz Festival. The bottom two are a summer night at the Ile Saint Louis with our friends Peter & Nicole Giron and the sign you see when you enter The Cod House, our favorite restaurant in Paris where we recently had dinner with Bobby & Sue who are now residing in Paris by way of Dallas.
The Funky Ella CD can be streamed on any number of platforms but the main ones are:
- Bandcamp: https://leslielewisgerardhagen.bandcamp.com/album/i-put-a-spell-on-you
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6gkHqDEBeQSm8akBXBtofv
- Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/i-put-a-spell-on-you/1587307010?uo=4&app=itunes
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09H2V1Z3S
- Deezer: https://www.deezer.com/us/album/26111448
You can find out more information about our Funky Ella project at: www.funkyella.com
Cover of "I Put A Spell On You".
Our calendar is available here: https://surfcovejazz.com/tour For those of you who are in Paris or if you are planning to be in Paris, on July 6th Leslie and I are with Peter Giron at Les 2 Pianos http://www.les2pianos.com. On July 8th Leslie will be with Nico Peslier at Bar Josephine in the Hotel Lutetia https://www.hotellutetia.com/bar-josephine and I will be at Chez Papa Jazz Club in piano trio. The following night (July 9) Leslie and I are at Chez Papa with percussionist Jean-Philippe Naeder. https://papajazzclub-paris.fr On July 11th the Funky Ella band is appearing at Jazz A Vienne https://jazzavienne.com/fr/programmation-2022/funky-ella-leslie-lewis On July 21st Leslie is working with Philippe Duchemin in Nimes, FR. On July 22 - 23rd we are back at Chez Papa Jazz Club with bassist Bruno Rousselet and we are also there on July 28, 29 & 30 with Peter Giron. https://papajazzclub-paris.fr On August 5th Funky Ella will be at the La Baule Jazz Festival in La Baule, FR http://labaulejazzfestival.fr/3-soirees-magiques-au-parc-des-dryades/ the following day (Aug. 6) Leslie and I will be with Jean Philippe Naeder in Gien, FR. https://www.facebook.com/chateaumuseedegien/posts/1231480717258724?notif_id=1652175028982525¬if_t=page_tag&ref=notif On August 11-14 Leslie and I will be at Au Grès du Jazz in La Petite Pierre, FR https://www.festival-augresdujazz.com/artiste/conference-musicale-la-voix-dans-le-jazz/ On Aug.19th we are back in Paris working as a duo at the Café Laurent. https://www.hoteldaubusson.com/cafe-laurent There are a few dates in Aug. still to be added. So now you know where and when to find us.
Thank you for giving us your time and attention, we appreciate it very much. Please check our website for news and updates. While you are there please sign up for our weekly email to learn where you can hear us. http://www.surfcovejazz.com If you have any comments feel free to contact me, I enjoy hearing from you. This email appears on our website where you may also comment. http://www.surfcovejazz.com/blog/ We hope that you are all healthy and looking forward to the summer season. As always thanks for staying in touch with us.
Until next time, Leslie et Gerard