"Leslie Lewis et Gérard Hagen" Bonjour de Paris 31 Octobre 2019
Bonjour de Paris ...
Leslie and I hope that all is well with you. It is fall in Paris, the sun has left the building, so to speak. Somehow this year I seem to be able to embrace this situation better than past years, or perhaps it is because it is still early in the season. We'll see how I feel in February! As I walk the city going to and from work, I have been enjoying the grey skies along with the changing colors of the trees and the crispness in the air. Recently there have been several times that I have actually enjoyed walking in the rain, well light rain, without an umbrella. After seven years, I still really love living in this city. For her part, Leslie is already pretty much in full on Christmas mode. As we walked home from work the other night we noticed some city workers were starting to put up Christmas lights. Leslie loves to see the city lit up at Christmas so perhaps that is what triggered her early Christmas mood. I find it adorable that she gets so excited about getting a tree and decorating our home. Since we have lived in Europe, Christmas for us has changed considerably. We no longer suffer from much of the stress causing elements of the season. What little shopping we do is done on foot which makes the whole experience so much better, maybe even pleasant. We pretty much do the things that we enjoy about the holidays and forget about the rest. Having said all of that it would be nice to have our family and long time friends nearby, so there is always a trade off.
Last week we were in Berlin for the first time. We still can't get over how short the flight time is between cities here. That is one of the advantages of living in Paris which is centrally located to much of Europe. We arrived at one of the two airports (Tegel) serving Berlin. I was surprised that it was so easy to negotiate the distance from the plane to the street. We walked outside into a beautiful fall day and immediately found a taxi (a new Mercedes Benz) that was ready and waiting for us. The drive into town followed a route next to a canal that was surrounded by trees that were changing color. So it was not the typical airport drive into town. You can't really say that the area around l'aéroport Charles de Gaulle or LAX is charming, but the drive into town from Tegel was pretty scenic. Having arrived in Berlin at 9:00 am, we were very pleasantly surprised to find that our hotel had a room that was available. The room was fine, most importantly there was a comfortable bed with four pillows, two that were softer and two that were firmer. I was beginning to think that the Germans really had this "making life easier" thing going. Then reality hit. After a nap, Leslie tried to use the TV, the remote didn't work. I wanted to lower the temperature in the room. The thermostat didn't work. We wanted to put some things into the room safe, the lock didn't work. Reality bites!
Around the time that we moved to Paris, our friend and fellow pianist Louis Durra moved from L.A. to Berlin. Over the past years we have hung out in Paris a few times. I think that Louis came for Christmas for two years in a row. So we had a very nice hang with him as he showed us the city for the next few days. Louis has really built a nice life for himself there. He has regular gigs but most importantly he has integrated himself into his neighborhood and into the larger music community.
In retrospect we shouldn't have been surprised that Berlin seems a bit a haphazard in terms of city planning. Of course it makes sense since the city needed to be rebuilt as quickly as possible after the second war and there was also the little matter of that wall to deal with. So it is easy to tell which parts of the city were in the east and which were in the west. We have experienced Soviet era architecture in a number of countries. Even after all of the time that has passed since the fall of the Soviet Union, those buildings still afflict the neighborhoods no matter what efforts the locals make. Fortunately there are many beautiful neighborhoods in Berlin, and a thriving art/music/culinary scene. It is a vibrant city and very fun to explore.
Skies over Germany at daybreak.
Ariel view of suburban Berlin, Germany.
Neighborhood in Berlin, Germany.
Japanese restaurant Berlin, Germany.
Leslie & Gerard at the Brandenburg Gate Berlin, Germany.
Louis Durra at A Trane Jazz Club Berlin, Germany.
Louis Durra, Leslie & Gerard at A Trane Jazz Club Berlin, Germany.
Promo for Louis Durra's regular Monday night gig.
Louis and Katherina perform in Berlin, Germany. Katherina sings and plays the musical saw. She really does!
Gerard playing solo at Hotel Lutetia, Paris.
Promo poster for the up coming jazz cruise this spring.
Work has been moving along nicely. We were both sick for a while, Leslie had a very severe respiratory infection that was diagnosed as pneumonia. She had to sub out a couple of dates which she almost never does. Beyond that we have had a pretty nice balance between work and free time. We are very fortunate that we now have five venues that we work on a regular basis and that are within a ten minute walk from our home. I have made it into the regular rotation of pianists playing solo at Hotel Lutetia https://www.hotellutetia.com/bar-josephine which has been a fun thing for me. Once again we are going to be at Chez Papa Jazz Club for the week prior to New Years Eve. http://www.papajazzclub-paris.fr This year we are going to be in trio with bassist Bruno Rousselet. He is one of our favorites. So please check our web site when you are next in Paris. http://www.surfcovejazz.com
Classes at IMEP college are in the sixth week. https://www.imep.pro/en/ I have a good group of in-coming pianists. Over the course of their first year I need to get them prepared to tackle the coursework for the second and third years and ultimately for a life in music. In December my music history courses begin. This year I have two sections of thirty students in each. So that is going to be a challenge.
For those of you in Paris or if you’re planning to visit, here is our November and Décember schedule to date.