Wynton’s Blog

Swinging in the City of Lights

Now we are leaving the most beautiful city in the world. Paris has been raved about for centuries, and with each passing year the accumulated adoration becomes more justified. We played a 2 and a 1/2 hour concert in the famed Salle Pleyel. The hall was only about 3/4 full, but the people were very enthusiastic requesting 3 encores.

Whenever we play concerts that are not as well attended as we would have hoped, the 6 or 7 of us whose parents are jazz musicians remember all of the under-attended gigs we grew up hearing. Those years made us understand the importance of treasuring every opportunity to play, of always being committed to the audience in front of you and of assessing a concert by the quality of the experience (not by numbers of people or pay). Our band remains dedicated to playing better.

The sax section was stellar, and Ryan Kisor continues to amaze us in the trumpet section by playing lead and taking great solos. We played music of Vincent Gardner, Ted Nash and me, as well as a swinging Fletcher Henderson arrangement of “Ravel's Bolero” (written for Benny Goodman and featuring a double call and response) and “Paris Stairs”, Duke Ellington's elegant waltz. Royalty was in the house. The legendary Judith Jamison blessed us with her soul and charisma. Her Alvin Ailey American Dance is in Paris for three soul-shaking weeks elevating the standing room only crowds at the Théâtre du Châtelet. We love her and everything Ailey.

My little student, Noé, came with his mother, and we saw a host of other good friends from down through the years. There were not many places to jam after the concert, and we miss the type of collegiality that was always a part of jazz when big bands would visit large cities (small ones too for that matter) and hang with the local musicians. Coltrane's quartet came to New Orleans in the early 60's and McCoy Tyner had such a good time hanging with my father that every time I see him he says something about it —-50 years later!

Speaking about my father and audiences and such, when I was about 15 my father played piano in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency hotel. I would quietly sit next to him, listening and keeping him company as guests would talk loudly and generally completely ignore his playing. One particularly noisy afternoon, I asked him (as he was playing) if it bothered him that no one was listening. He looked at me and said, “Shhhhhh!!!”

Fernando and I are burning up this road on the way to Rotterdam and the North Sea Jazz Festival. We checkya.


JLCO Set list
Paris, France
July 10, 2009


Stage West
Dato St. Parade
Abyssinian 200: Offertory I,II,III
Paris Stairs
Ugly Beauty
Up From Down
Light Blue
Bye Ya


Weary Blues
Blooz (improvised with Walter and Victor)
Cherokee (just Wynton)

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