"Leslie Lewis and Gerard Hagen" Bonjour de Paris 19 Mai 2023

Bonjour de Paris...

I’m going to miss seeing him there, playing pool in the bar of a Hilton hotel. At least I think it was a Hilton. I probably wasn’t the best role model!

Chers Amis,

 Over this past few weeks Leslie and I logged a few miles crossing a few borders and playing music together with our friends. Almost like that Willie Nelson song! Just today we returned from a Funky Ella concert at the Munster Jazz Festival in France. Leslie had a few hours to get herself together before going to play a concert tonight here in Paris. Prior to leaving for Munster, Funky Ella was a part of a jazz cruise which began in Marseille and took us to Gibraltar, and Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal. Later we were in Spain in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and also in Cadiz and in Barcelona. The trip also included stops in Morocco in Agadir and Casablanca. Once we returned to Paris we had a couple of days to rehearse with a new drummer for the Munster gig and then we hit the road again. The great thing about a cruise is that your room stays the same day in and day out so there is no packing and unpacking and no taxis, airports or train stations. With my propensity to be a homebody, this was a huge plus for me. This was Leslie and my third jazz cruise and it was easily the most labor intensive, at least for me. Being a headliner, Leslie would probably say that they were all labor intensive. On the days that we worked there was not much time left for anything else which, of course, is why it’s called work! But still we had some days off and we did get to see most of the places that we wanted to see. The concerts were both rewarding and challenging at the same time. They ran the gamut from playing a late afternoon set poolside to playing two nightly shows in the theatre and finally to playing a late night show in a room that was called “The Dome”. “The Dome” was normally a disco but for purposes of the cruise it was set up like a jazz club. Between the three venues I played five concerts over the course of the cruise and Leslie was featured two nights in the theatre. Once with Funky Ella and again as part of a concert with pianist Philippe Duchemin’s trio. She also did two nights as the featured performer for the late night sets in “The Dome”. All of the musicians (there were around forty) were mixed and matched for the poolside concerts, and groups were formed for the late night sets which were mostly themed concerts such as “a trumpet summit” or “saxophone mania” etc.  The challenge was mostly due to some equipment problems and problems with the rented acoustic bass. At one point Peter Giron, our longtime bassist and friend, played part of a set on a bass with only two functioning strings.  Anyway, we were able to weather those storms and get ourselves ready for the next show. Beyond that we had a great time hanging with friends, seeing new things and enjoying great sunny weather which in springtime is hard to come by in Paris. We probably had the most enjoyable time in Cadiz, Spain. Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands was probably second most enjoyable stop for us. Peter’s wife Nicole, who joined us on the cruise, liked Cadiz so much that she was ready to move there for retirement!

Funky Ella theatre stage pre-concert cruise 2023.
Funky Ella theatre stage concert cruise 2023.
Leslie's theatre concert with Philippe Duchemin's trio. 
Leslie with Faby Medina (lead singer with the Claude Bolling Big Band) in "The Dome" after Leslie's concert. 
Peter and Gerard after Leslie's concert in "The Dome".
Peter in "The Dome" playing a late set with the Trumpet Summit group.
Peter and Gerard playing a late afternoon set poolside.
Load in and set up for Funky Ella at the Munster Jazz Festival.
Funky Ella plays the opening night of the Munster Jazz Festival.
Leslie waiting to be called on stage for the Munster Jazz Festival.
These are photos from Agadir, Morocco.  The beach, a horse draw carriage and an advertisement for "black seed".
1.) View from the dinner table on board the ship.
2.) Gibraltar getting ready for the coronation.
3.) Flame Grill Indian Tex-Mex Restaurant in Gibraltar.
4.) Leslie enjoying Lanzarote, Canary Islands.
5.) View of the port of Barcelona.
Tall ship in the port of Cadiz, Spain.
Park in Cadiz, Spain.
Another park in Cadiz, Spain.
Narrow street in Cadiz, Spain.
Park along the coast Cadiz, Spain.
Church in Cadiz, Spain.
Downtown buildings Cadiz, Spain.
Pretty trees, Cadiz Spain.
So now looking forward I am thinking of how fortunate we are to have a number of interesting things on the horizon. Along with our regular dates here in Paris, at most notably Chez Papa Jazz Club and Café Laurent, there are more Funky Ella festival appearances in July and August. In June Leslie is going to Tours to play with the afore mentioned Philippe Duchemin Trio. In July we are part of a day long “Afro-Paris” jazz workshop which will culminate in an evening concert to be held at Duc des Lombards Jazz Club in Paris. In August we will be a part of the Festival Au Grès du Jazz performing with Rhoda Scott in trio (organ, piano, drums) and then adding Leslie to sing with us. The second half of that concert will be with the gospel choir that we have been rehearsing since last November. Speaking of which, in two weeks we travel back to Saverne for a weekend of rehearsals with the full band (organ, piano and drums) Leslie as the soloist and the choir! I am very excited to play some instrumental music with Rhoda who is still a force of nature after all of these years. I can’t help but feel blessed to have all of these great opportunities ahead of me. And best of all, Leslie and I get to do them together.
Leslie and Rhoda at last year's Festival Au Grès du Jazz.
Tom Ranier is a wonderful pianist/clarinetist in L.A.  If you watch TV or movies you've heard him play. He is also a great photographer.  This is a shot he took of City Hall in L.A.  It is lit up in blue to mark the 25th year since the passing of Frank Sinatra. I asked Tom for permission to include it here because I love it.
On a more personal note, my nephew Sam Nevins is engaged to marry a wonderful woman named Bethany.  I was fortunate to watch him grow up as my sister’s family lived nearby in Orange County, California. Even as a youngster he always had a big heart, and he has grown up to be a good man. We are so very happy for him. For a number of years he lived and worked in NYC where he met his fiancée.  We would always hang when ever Leslie and I got to town.  I’m going to miss seeing him there, playing pool in the bar of a Hilton hotel. At least I think it was a Hilton. I probably wasn’t the best role model! They are now back on the West Coast, living in Seattle, closer to family and beginning a new chapter and Leslie and I are thrilled for them.
Sam and Bethany, the happy, newly engaged, couple.

The Funky Ella CD can be streamed on any number of platforms but the main ones are: 

"I Put A Spell On You" first recording by "Funky Ella". 
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 later in May or June,  Leslie and I are at Chez Papa Jazz Club on May 25-26-27. On the 25th in duo, the 26th we are with bassist Bruno Rousselet and the 27th with Nicholas Rageau. https://papajazzclub-paris.fr  On June 1st Leslie and I are back at Chez Papa Jazz Club in duo. On June 5th Leslie travels to Tours to work with Philippe Duchemin. https://www.strapontin-cafe.com/concert   On June 15-16-17 it’s Chez Papa Jazz Club in duo followed by June 16th with Bruno Rousselet and June 17th with Darryl Hall. https://papajazzclub-paris.fr  On June 28th we are at at Café Laurent in Paris. https://www.hoteldaubusson.com/cafe-laurent  So now you know where and when to find us.     
Funky Ella playing at Les 2 Pianos in Paris.

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 a summer of good times with your family and friends.  As always thanks for staying in touch with us. 

Until next time,  Leslie et Gerard

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