Claude Carrière (1939-2021)

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!