Restez chez vous tips from Claude Carrière

Claude à Honfleur, 17 Avril 2013 … courtesy of Claude

The following joke has rewarded me with 59 likes and 15 shares on Facebook. It comes from my friend Claude Carrière in Paris.

A plane with 5 passengers on board — Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, the Pope and a 10-year-old schoolgirl — is about to crash and there are only 4 parachutes. Trump says “I need one, I am the smartest man in the USA and I’m needed to solve the pandemic!” He takes one parachute and jumps. Johnson says “I’m needed to sort out the COVID-19 mess in Britain”. He takes one and jumps. The Pope says “The world’s Catholics depend on me for comfort in a time of fear.” He takes one and jumps. “You can have the last parachute,” Merkel says to the 10-year-old. “I’ve lived my life. Yours is only just starting”. The little girl replies: “ Don’t worry, there are 2 parachutes left, the smartest man in the USA just took my school bag.”

Now retired, Claude is retired after a long career as a jazz producer and host for Radio France. I remember watching him host a live broadcast from Sunset/Sunside, the two-level club with the red door. Dark and cozy, with a small group playing and Claude purring his commentary between the tunes, mic cables coiled on the floor and runnng out the back door to the sound truck.

Claude is also a producer of CDs. His BD JAZZ series (I see some volumes on Amazon and eBay) packages two discs in the back of a book — a tall, slim, glossy, hardcover bande dessinée (graphic novella) illustrating a story from the life of an artist such as Ellington (Carrière’s favorite artist), Bechet, Ella, Carmen McRae. A beautiful series. A five CD box, La Chanson de Duke, features more than a hundred songs by Duke and Strayhorn, recorded by Duke’s band and other artists when Duke wasn’t present. Claude himself plays on the last track. And his latest production is Incomparable! The three-CD set fully explores – as Claude might say — Le roi Nat Cole. Out now. 

Claude is staying home during the pandemic. A confinement order throughout France has been extended through April 15. All non-essential public services remain closed. 

I asked him what he is listening to and reading during this confinement, and I’ve edited his response only a bit.

  • Listening to a lot of music, mainly classical on France Musique and 3 musical TV channels, 
  • beaucoup Mahler, Dutilleux (le “double” that night !), Ravel, Debussy, Shostakovitch, Prokofiev and so on…
  • Duke and Strayhorn and Strayhorn and Duke  
  • Bill Smith concerto for clarinet and combo, [Smith] just died last week
  • Tatum on piano, I re discover 
  • And movies – Parasite, Quai des Orfévres, Passport to Pimlico
  • One hour ago, Tati’s Jour de Fête on the TV
  • Many old English and French classics to see or see again
  • Reading Debussy’s biography, Rabbit’s Blues (Hodges bio you know), The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross in French,  Jazz Transatlantic, Vol 1, by Geerhard Kubik (420 pages in English I just begin!).

Claude regards America as a great country that gave the world Duke, Louis, Bird, Clifford and so many. He took this photo the last time he was in New York, in my neighborhood. J’envoie de mon mieux, Claude Carrière!

Message from Veneto .. March 12, 2020

Riccardo Scivales photo by Mauro Parenzan

Hi Becca, I hope you are well, and sorry for my delay in replying in detail. I too am worried – last night on TV they said that unfortunately there are a thousand infected in New York. We are fine, even if the situation is not easy here. Yesterday in our region (Veneto) they counted 1027 infected and 29 dead. We must remain as closed as possible at home, and from today the government has decided to close all shops, factories and offices that are not indispensable (such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, etc.). Schools are closed, and the music schools where I teach piano have been temporarily closed since last week. We pray that all this will end soon. And since we have to stay at home, let’s try to play and listen to as much good music as possible! A hug and a warm greeting to you and your loved ones!

James P. Johnson . Willie “The Lion” Smith . Thomas “Fats” Waller . Joe Turner . Eubie Blake . Dick Wellstood & more! Transcribed by Riccardo Scivales

Back in 1990 Ekay Music published pianist Riccardo Scivales’s loving and accurate transcriptions of 26 classic Harlem Stride solos from the 1920s and 30s, originally documented on piano rolls and early recordings. Scivales was the first to transcribe many of these challenging, exuberant pieces. Think “Carolina Shout” by James P. Johnson and “Smashing Thirds” by Fats Waller.

Harlem Stride could be a life’s work, but from his keyboards in the Venice area, Riccardo also passionately leads the Prog Rock Band Quanah Parker (named for the Comanche chief) and just finished a piano arrangement of “La Scala” from The Symphonic Ellington album, to be played “as soon as normal life starts again.”

Dear Lord, may that day come quickly!

ADDENDUM: From Italy Riccardo has added to this blog post, with a comment about his love for Progressive Rock for its “Beauty, Poetry and Imagination,” and why he named his band for a Comanche chief about whom most Americans know little. Riccardo is a tireless musical explorer. To read his words and link to some music, click on the “comment” link at the top of this post. You will be rewarded.

Branford Marsalis Quartet at Rose Hall

Eric Revis, Justin Faulkner, Joey Calderazzo, Branford Marsalis

Coming to the stage, Branford said he loves Rose Hall and opened with “a love song” by bassist Eric Revis. “Dance of the Evil Toys” quickly became demonic – soldiers in combat while the children sleep – and near me an audience member called out “If that’s a love song, you better play a war song.”

“Dance of the Evil Toys” also opens The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, released today, March 1, on Okeh Records.

For “Conversation Among the Ruins,” composed by pianist Joey Calderazzo, Branford shifted from tenor saxophone to soprano. His powerful breath delivers streams of ideas balanced by Calderazzo’s musical speech and theater. Once to my absolute delight Joey’s two fists chased each other up the piano keys. But only once. This music does not indulge in reprises. 

So it was surprising that tune #3 was “When I Take My Sugar to Tea” (played by Chico in the Marx Brothers’s Monkey Business in 1931, a fact I learned after the show). Marsalis on tenor. The strategy emerged: a song for the audience, a song for the band.

“Light Filtering from the Water Flowers” (soprano) felt cinematic … French? … a thunderstorm? … braiding improv and narrative … Marsalis back-announced the piece and the name confirmed the experience. “Sunny Side of the Street” (tenor) came as a graceful lament. Then the finale jettisoned storylines and lyricism for intensity,  speed and accuracy, hard work. Drummer Justin Faulkner leaned in big time.

Citizens of the Blues – trumpet, piano, bass and drums students from Juilliard and Manhattan Schools – opened the concert, and they played their opportunity just right. After two original pieces, they surprised this older audience with the unadorned, distinctive melody of “A House Is Not a Home” (1964 hit for Dionne Warwick), back announced by trumpeter Anthony Hervey who said, “If you recognized it, we did our job,” with Isaiah J. Thompson, piano; Philip Norris, bass; Domo Branch, drums.

Wish I had a picture.