Leslie Lewis et Gérard Hagen "Bonjour de Paris" 27 Avril 2016


Bonjour de Paris ...

Chers Amis,

  April has been another very busy month. We were fortunate to do a number of concerts with a quartet this month which is a nice change of pace for us but it comes with some added pressure. It is my job to keep the bassist and drummer aware of what is going to happen next while we are playing. With improvised music there is no way to write everything out so we need to use musical and visual cues to indicate what is about to happen.  Time constraints don’t allow for much, if any, rehearsal time so once the music has been programmed, I need to think things through pretty carefully in order to direct things from the piano.  The upside is we love the opportunity to hear how individual bassists and drummers are going to handle our repertoire.  Their musical ideas often times take the music to places we never go in our duo concerts. So this makes up for the extra effort involved in making these concerts work.

 Our concert in Saintes, France.  Leslie, Gerard with Nicola Sabato & Mourad Benhammou.

Leslie with Nico Sabato & Mourad Benhammou Saintes, France.

Leslie, Gerard, Nico & Mourad getting ready to travel back to Paris.

  After a few quartet concerts it is nice to get back to the intimacy of our duo. We have gotten very comfortable in that setting and things flow pretty easily for us so there isn’t much to talk about, we just sit down and play.  That has become a treasured thing for me, because it is the result of spending many hours in performance. It is a level of comfort that has been earned over the course of ten years of performing, rehearsing, arranging, recording and touring.  Oh yeah, there is also the day in day out marriage thing that is somehow reflected in the mix.  

So this month we traveled to Saintes, Auxerre, Grenoble and Chamrousse.  None of them is really far from Paris but never-the-less they required over night stays which in turn resulted in some crazy travel schedules like spending a Saturday night in Auxerre, returning to Paris by car early Sunday morning and getting dropped off at Gare de Lyon to catch an 11:00 am train to Grenoble followed by a trip by car into the mountains (4,500 ft) to do Sunday night in a beautiful ski resort called Chamrousse. 

Cantinallegra Jazz Club, Auxerre, France.

Leslie, Mourad, Nicola setting up on stage, Cantinallegra, Auxerre, FR.

Pre-show Cantinallegra Jazz Club, Auxerre, FR.

Morning in Auxerre, France.

  Chamrousse is in an incredible setting in the Belledonne Mountain Range. It was the location of the 1968 Winter Olympics. As you can imagine, it is a small community that becomes a much larger community during the ski season. We performed a private concert for the closing night of the ski season.  After the concert we had a great time eating dinner with the mayor of Chamrousse and a few local residents. Sometime during the dinner it began to snow that really heavy, wet, type of snowflakes. It was April, 17th!

Chamrousse, France, a very beautiful community.

It was snowing our last night in Chamrousse, Fr!

On the train back to Paris from Saintes, again on a Sunday morning, Leslie and I were traveling with Nicola and Mourad, our bassist and drummer. The seats faced each other so we were able to talk across the aisle. As the train was leaving a conductor walked past our seats and overheard the word “disco” from our conversation.  He responded by doing a dance which brought about laughter from all.  Later in the trip this same conductor passed by as Leslie was taking a photo of Nico and Mourad with an iPad.  His angry response was so over the top that we all assumed he was joking.  As he was demanding that Leslie stop taking photos she responded in a joking manner that she wouldn’t stop and indeed tried to take his picture to which he responded by covering his face with his hat. This caused him to get even more red in the face as his blood pressure was rising.  Around this time I suspected that he was not joking but Leslie just couldn't see why he would be so upset and so she continued with what she thought was just playing around.  He then said he would stop the train and call the police if she didn’t put the iPad away at which point we tried to explain we thought he was joking but he would have none of it. After another angry exchange he walked away and we didn’t see him again until he returned to ask for our tickets. Beyond his request for the tickets not a word was exchanged. Later in the trip another conductor remarked that he was, shall we say, not quite predictable in his responses to certain things he encounters.

Mourad and Nico on the train back to Paris, the conductor was about to strike!

Last year I met a music producer from L.A. who dropped by Chez Papa Jazz Club to hear Leslie and me. As we talked we found that we knew number of L.A. people in common. He mentioned that he was working for Resonance Records and had been in Germany working on a project. I knew of Resonance Records because they have issued a number of interesting recordings of previously unknown tapes including one of the Bill Evans Trio recorded in 1968 at the “Top Of The Gate” in New York.  So last week I see where Resonance Records is issuing another Bill Evans Trio recording also from 1968 that was discovered in a studio in Germany.  Guess who produced this recording!

On May, 29 we go to Les Pavillons-sous-Bois, FR  for an appearance at

“The Pavillons Jazz Festival”.  http://espace-des-arts.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=32&Itemid=288

Check our website for our other May dates, we have the usual jazz club gigs in and around Paris.  While you are there sign up for our weekly email blast to learn where you can hear us.

Until next time,

Leslie and Gerard  


Please if you have any comments feel free to contact me at <gerard@surfcovejazz.com>.  I enjoy hearing your thoughts. This email also appears on our website where you may comment as well.  http://www.surfcovejazz.com/blog/








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