'Up With The Lark', by the Bill Evans Trio

The last song of the ‘Paris-theme-week’ is the beautiful ‘Up With The Lark' by the (last) Bill Evans Trio, recorded by Radio France at the L'Espace Cardin, Paris, on November 26th, 1979.
Bill Evans Trio - The Paris Concert, Edition One
Peter Pettinger writes in his amazingly thorough book ‘Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings' on page 267: “…Returning to the ever-welcoming Parisians, they gave two sets at L'Espace Cardin, performances that have long been acclaimed as among the finest from the Bill Evans Trio…During the interval and throughout the following (solo) piano items the double bass was sitting out on stage under the lights, going gradually out of tune. When Marc Johnson joined Evans on the platform for their duo spot, it was for 'Up With The Lark’, which Evans pointedly commenced, as usual, on a reiterated G in the bass. Whether this was originally for tuning purposes or not, it became a curious feature of every performance…”

Today’s album, ‘The Paris Concert, Edition One' was voted best album of 1980 by the Association of French Jazz Critics, and the last to be approved and released by Helen Keane (his manager) during Bill's lifetime. The photograph used on the cover is called 'Île de la Cité 1951' and was shot by one of my photographic heroes, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

And with that, I will leave you for now (I’m off to Paris) and hope to see you all sometime next week… 

Bill Evans - Piano
Marc Johnson - Bass
Joe LaBarbera - Drums (not present on this track)

'I Love Paris', by Etta Jones

I’m going to Paris for a week coming Sunday, so I thought it would be nice to treat you all to a little ‘Paris Theme’.
The first song is Cole Porter’s ‘I Love Paris’, sung by the lovely Etta Jones (1928-2001), whose critical success and commercial obscurity earned her a reputation in her lifetime as a ‘jazz musician’s jazz singer’. A highly underrated singer who rarely received the recognition she richly deserved, because she recorded more than two dozen albums and earned three Grammy Award nominations during her six-decade-long career.

Etta Jones - Don't Go To Strangers 
Don’t Go To Strangers' was Etta Jones' first album for the independent jazz label Prestige when it was released in 1960 (having been recorded in a single session on June 21st of that year), and although Jones had been releasing records since 1944, including a dozen sides for RCA in 1946 and an album for King Records in 1957, she was treated as an overnight sensation when the title tune from the album went gold. Apparently there were no additional tracks cut at the session, since bonus material has never surfaced on any of the album’s subsequent reissues, although that’s hardly a problem, because as is, this album is a perfect gem of a recording.

Etta Jones - Vocals
Frank Wess - Flute 
Richard Wyands - Piano
George Duvivier - Bass
Roy Haynes - Drums 

'Dance Of The Infidels', by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers Feat. Bud Powell

Yesterday I wrote about Shorter’s debut with the Messengers on his first gig abroad, in Paris on November 15th 1959. After that concert, they continued on a swing through Europe, and came full circle with a closing gig back at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées on December 18th. For this final performance, promoters planned to feature a number of expatriate musicians in concert with the Messengers, including Bud Powell, who’d set up residence on the Left Bank the previous May.

Michelle Mercer writes: “…Paudras (Powell’s patron and friend in Paris, often mentioned on this blog) invited Bud to the Messengers show that night, unaware that his friend was actually already on the bill. In the middle of the show, Walt Davis, the Messengers’ pianist, stepped up to the mike and asked Bud to come on stage. Bud wasn’t exactly eager to play. He sank down into his chair and tried in vain to use his trademark beret and overcoat for camouflage, but his fans picked him out right away. The audience caught Bud on a good night. With concentration, he shunned inspiration and played straight, giving a crowd pleasing performance…”

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Paris Jam Session

"…After the concert, Shorter went to his hotel room. He had been writing for a couple of hours when he heard a knock on the door at around 3 a.m. There was Bud. He walked into the room, sat in a chair, and looked over at Wayne’s horn, which was out of its case on his bed. "Play me something", he said, in his mild child’s voice. Wayne hesitated. He didn’t know what to play. When he picked up his horn, he reflexively set in on one of the tunes they’d covered earlier that night, ‘Dance Of The Infidels’. After he played, Bud thanked him, stood up, and walked to the door. He turned around and stared. “Are you all right?” Wayne asked. “Uh-huh, it’s all right”, Bud mumbled in response…”.

"…Years later, Wayne listened repeatedly to the show’s live recording, ‘Paris Jam Session’. “Maybe he must have heard something with me that he felt in his inner being?…”

What might Bud Powell have heard in Wayne that night in 1959? 

"…Bud set out boldly on ‘Dance Of The Infidels' with an inventive solo. He walked the tightrope for a few bars then fell back on repetition like a net. When Wayne took the lead solo, Bud must have noticed that Wayne never repeated himself, not a single riff. For Wayne, repetition was stagnation. There was urgency in Shorter's playing that night, an inner logic to his solos, but a mercurial aspect as well. Wayne blew back at Blakey's hi-hat jabs like they were in the boxing ring. The seeds of Wayne's style and his initiation as a composer were there. Maybe Bud heard that, Wayne pushing toward the future with music that could only move forward…”

Lee Morgan - Trumpet
Barney Wilen - Alto Saxophone (guest appearance)
Wayne Shorter - Tenor Saxophone
Bud Powell - Piano (guest appearance)
Jymie Merritt - Bass
Art Blakey - Drums 


'Paris', by Brad Mehldau

I don’t own or listen to a lot of contemporary jazz myself, so I’m a little outside my comfort zone here, but Brad Mehldau (1970) often uses tones that touch (or should I say ‘hit’) me.

This solo track ‘Paris’ is ‘a piece of transcendental beauty. It starts with a deep, delicate melody, that continuously grows and expands until exploding into a shocking, rock-classical arpeggio (a mix of Radiohead and Rachmaninoff…)’.

The 11 compositions on ‘Places’ (from 2000, on some tracks with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy)  were conceived on the road, and only midway through did Mehldau realize that there was a connection. The designated theme is travel; each selection bears the name of a place or mood.

The titles in themselves mean nothing as far as the content of the music is concerned, or so he writes in another lengthy, provocative liner note. Rather, the album is about the constancy of his personality and musical language, taking all of your personal mental baggage with you wherever you travel.


Brad Mehldau, Places

Hotel La Louisiane, Paris

Hotel La Louisiana

When I was in Paris last August for my honeymoon, I wandered through the Latin Quarters and suddenly found myself facing the Hotel La Louisiane, at 60 Rue de Seine.
It was home for artists like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and had famous guests like Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

I’ve read a lot about La Hotel Louisiane in one of my favorite jazz biographies: “Dance Of The Infidels, A Portrait Of Bud Powell”, by Francis Paudras.

Bud Powell didn’t have a great time in La Louisiane, as I read on page 94:
"…I (Francis Paudras) knocked at his room but no one answered. Then I heard a call for help coming from another room. He was locked in. All I could do was to persuade Buttercup to open the door and let me spend some time with him. It was a horrendous spectacle. The squalid little room was strewn with dirty plates, the floor littered with cigarette buds. Seated on the unmade bed, Bud hung his head and avoided my eyes. 
Who would have believed that the great Bud Powell could be treated  with such contempt, kept prisoner in these ugly surroundings, and that no one around him seemed to care?…” 

Bud Powell was locked in and drugged with Largactyl by his self-proclaimed wife Buttercup (they were not legally married), who could this way control him and take all his earnings.

Hotel La Louisiane 2010

Hotel La Louisiane in 2010, photo by me