"Leslie Lewis and Gerard Hagen" Bonjour de Paris 16 Décembre 2023

Bonjour de Paris...

Bob Moses on playing with Jaco Pastorius: “playing with Jaco was kind of like jumping out of a plane, at night, naked and on LSD”.

Chers Amis,

I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to write since the newsletter I sent in August.  I have thought about it many times and even had scoped out some time to sit down and do it but too many things here needed urgent attention.  So here’s the list:

Our residence permits expired last May.  Since then we’ve been on a temporary permit while the Prefecture processed our dossiers.  This time we were eligible for a 10 year permit but in order to qualify we needed to pass a language exam. Anyway we both managed to get beyond the level for residency and attained the level needed for citizenship. So that was a nice bit of news. That Leslie got there was no surprise, but trust me when I say that I was shocked at my score. My reaction after I took the test was that we were going back to California. Seriously, I walked out of the exam and called Leslie to prepare her that we might have to leave. So the good news is that recently we were notified that we both have been granted 10 year residency permits and are now waiting for our appointments to go the the Prefecture and retrieve them.

Around this time every year we have to ask to renew our professional status as “Intermittents du spectacle”.  Attaining that status effects, among other things, our taxes, health insurance,  and our supplemental health insurance. Since we have passed the age of typical retirement in France (62 years), each year there is always more paperwork to be added to our dossiers to explain why we are not yet retired. So as you might imagine it can become a tad overwhelming when functioning on the phone in a language other than English.  We try to do most everything by email but that just makes the process take more time. 

But the biggest thing on the list of reasons why I haven’t written sooner is that my teaching load at IMEP Paris College of Music https://www.imep.pro/ has been kicking my behind.  This year I accepted several additional classes including an ensemble class and a 3rd year Harmony class.  On most topics in Jazz studies I’m completely prepared to talk about  them for hours on end. I don’t need to spend a lot of time in preparation for my classes. But this Harmony class is one of the classes that is used to test the students suitability to continue on into the 4th and 5th years at the school. I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to be sure that they get the best preparation possible, so consequently I spend quite a bit of time preparing for this class.  

So those are some of the reasons why you haven’t heard from me.  I say this only by way of explanation, there is no regret here regarding all of the things required to remain in France. Regarding my classes, if I decide to continue teaching next year it will be much easier having had this years experience. For now teaching this class is a good challenge for me.

In Sept. we played a concert at the Caveau de la Huchette.  The piano mocks you before you even play a note!
Leslie and her friend Iris attended the "Westside Story" production at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris.
Inside the Chatelet Theatre, Paris. 
Today I took the opportunity of having a day with no classes or gigs to join Leslie in search of her 2023 Christmas tree.  There is an area on the Île de la Cité that has a number of flower and plant stores located side by side.  I had only been there with her a few times before now and always during the summer.  Leslie has spent quite a bit of time there getting the things that she needs for our garden, nevertheless, I was a bit surprised at how many people there recognized her. Of course the bandstand is her element, but her element is equally to be found in this little section of Paris where beautiful things grow and people take the time to acknowledge one another.  We bought a tree and later celebrated with a chocolat chaud at Café Mistral near Chatelet.  It was such a beautiful day in Paris that we decided to walk home.  I spent the rest of my day practicing and catching up on some emails while Leslie was getting ready to work with Nico Peslier that night at the Hotel Lutetia.  That evening the tree we bought was delivered and I began getting into the Christmas spirit by enjoying a gin & tonic while listening to Ray Charles’ “The Spirit Of Christmas” one of my favorite Christmas recordings.  When Leslie got home that tree didn’t know what hit it.  She started around 11:00 pm and was still at it at 7:45 the next morning!  She will continue working on it until New Years Day.  If it were entirely up to her, she would have to think hard on whether or not it would remain a permanent fixture in our home.  For me, I just enjoy the season and go with the flow.
A beautiful day in Paris to go shopping for a Christmas tree.
Funky Ella has been on a bit of a hiatus since the end of September. This is not entirely a bad thing since Leslie and I need some time to make some decisions about another recording and also to get ready for the summer festival season. The guys are asking about what’s next so that’s a good thing. 
Funky Ella at the Jazz A Vienne festival.

This fall was filled with people visiting Paris; some that we see each year and some that we hadn’t seen in a while.  We are very fortunate that so many people make the effort to come to our gigs here in Paris. Please understand that I can’t mention everyone.  Just know that we are truly happy to see you.  

Leslie was very happy to see Iris Revson and her husband at Chez Papa Jazz Club. After the gig we took them to the Caveau de las Huchette for the late set.  Of course the band invited Leslie to sing a tune.  Iris is a fellow singer from Leslie’s Opryland days in Nashville. 

In October I was thrilled to get to spend some time with Pat Atkinson, to meet his wife Julie Spangler and to introduce them to Leslie.  I’ve known Pat since kindergarten.  This was only the second time I’ve seen him since we graduated from high school.  His career has taken him to NYC, Central America and Southeast Asia. Always with the idea of helping people who aren’t in a position to help themselves.  He and Julie now call Minneapolis home. You can check out some of his life’s work here: https://godschild.org/  They came to hear us at Chez Papa Jazz Club and a day later we had the opportunity to share a meal before they left for home.  It always amazes me how it is possible to pick up right where things left off even after twenty some years  between visits.

Our Washington DC peeps Clifford and Lydia made their annual Paris trek and treated us to a fantastic dinner at Le Procope. https://www.procope.com/ This is the oldest restaurant in Paris dating back to 1686.  What a pleasurable evening.

We had dinner with Luther and Becky Hughes https://lwww.lutherhughes.com/  who were visiting from California a few weeks back. Along with teaching at Saddleback College with Luther, Leslie and I had some great moments on the bandstand with him.  He’s still doing it in So Cal so go check him out when you can.

In late November our dear friend Mariya came to Paris from Bulgaria to help Leslie celebrate her birthday. We've known Mariya since we first moved to Paris. We've seen her change locations from Paris to Los Angeles to Lausanne, Switzerland to Madrid and finally back to her homeland Sofia, Bulgaria.  It's never a dull moment with Mariya and always fun to see what's coming next!  

Leslie with Iris Revson in Paris.
Patrick Atkinson and Julie Spangler in Paris.
Luther and Becky Hughes along with Leslie and Gerard.
Mariya in Paris.
The last time they visited Paris Keith & Gwen Dunant from Toronto, Canada gave us this photo of the intersection Gerrard and Leslie Streets in Toronto.

Thanksgiving was a little low key this year for us.  We did however enjoy two lovely traditional Thanksgiving meals. One with Sue Hilton at Milagro Restaurant https://guide.michelin.com/fr/fr/ile-de-france/paris/restaurant/milagroand another at the home of our good friends Joan Minor and Paul Grayson.  Joan always does everything just right. That evening has become one of our favorite things about the holidays in Paris. The meal at Milagro was a wonderful feast prepared by an American (Justin Kent from New Mexico) in Paris. We made a note to go back again soon! 

 Last weekend we had a quick get-away to Brussels and Bruges, Belgium with Bobby Chitwood and Sue Hilton.  Last Wednesday evening I started feeling a bit ill.  On Thursday I taught for seven hours, came home and crawled into bed.  Around 2:00 am on Friday I made the decision that I would make the trip and once there I would sleep for the rest of Friday afternoon and hope for the best for a decent shot at enjoying a little Christmastime in Belgium. Having been raised in North Dakota and having lived two years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I know cold weather. It was unbelievably cold in Belgium.  The kind of cold where after a while you can no longer feel your face! Even so as it turned out I was glad that I did go.  The afternoon spent sleeping  in Brussels did me a world of good.  We were able to enjoy dinner that night and on Saturday we took a train to Brugge and spent the day there in all its Christmas splendour. We were back in Brussels later on Saturday night and we made the trip back to Paris on Sunday.  Fortunately it’s been the normal, relatively mild, winter weather in Paris this week.

Leslie and Gerard with Sue Hilton at Milagro in Paris.
Brussels Belgium.
Brussels Belgium.
Canal in Brugge, Belgium.
Brugge, Belgium.
Horse drawn carriage in Brugge, Belgium. Photo Bobby Chitwood
Leslie in Brussels as the snow begins to fall.

During the Fall Leslie has been on the road from time to time with stops in Dijon, Rousset, Bolbec and Odenas. I have happily enjoyed my more sedentary life in Paris. Our next performances in Paris are Dec. 21-22-23 at Chez Papa with percussionist Jean-Philippe Naeder. After Christmas we are at Café Laurent on Dec. 27 and then we do our traditional year end (Dec. 28-29-30 & 31) with Peter Giron at Chez Papa Jazz Club in Paris.  We hope that you all are enjoying a great holiday season doing all the things that make you happy. 

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 in Dec. or Jan.,  Leslie and I are at Chez Papa Jazz Club on Dec. 21-22-23.  We are at Café Laurent on Dec. 27 https://www.hoteldaubusson.com/cafe-laurent and back at Chez Papa Jazz Club Dec. 28-29-30-31. http://www.papajazzclub-paris.fr  The 25-26-27 of Jan. we are at Chez Papa Jazz Club  http://www.papajazzclub-paris.fr  The 28th of Jan. Leslie and I are joined by Ron Baker and Jean-Philippe O'Neal for a night of swing music at the Caveau de la Huchette in Paris. http://www.caveaudelahuchette.fr/1/concerts_janvier_2024_1482553.html   Also please look for more dates to be added in January and February.


Join Gerard and Leslie with Peter Giron at Chez Papa Jazz Club on New Year's Eve.

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/ As always thanks for staying in touch with us. 

Until next time,  Leslie et Gerard

Leave a comment