Paris

Fairly Wired – Skitter (video version)

The holiday season is just around the corner and I’m so glad I can share our new video with you all and give you something musical. I’m also very thankful that we have supportive friends helping out and throwing their creative talents into our band. Thank you my friends. You know who you are. Check out the video and share it if you like it!

 

Where it’s happening

 

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I woke up this morning (sure, around noon but I work nights, you know) and remembered a recent conversation with friends, which gives me a chance to drop a long overdue post on wellyouneedit. Ok, asked recently by longtime New Yorkers where to go hear some jazz in the Big Apple, I mentioned a few places, clubs and bars I’d heard of as well as the more hallowed historical venues. Ironically, I’ve never actually checked them out myself as I live in Paris, which also has its own jazz “scene”. So Smalls, Mezzrow, Fat Cat and the like are all pretty much good-sounding music fantasies in my mind, occasionally glimpsed on Youtube when nerding out on today’s musicians improvising after hours. To most people, including those who will half-heartedly admit they like “some jazz”, the music is mostly a defunct museum of long deceased people. Which is an interesting oddity as there are a lot more jazz musicians today worldwide than there were back in the golden age of jazz. The reasons they mostly fall off the radar of the cultural media are complex and difficult to pinpoint and I don’t want to get involved in this discussion.

However, I’d like to say this. The classic oneliner “jazz is at its best live” is still relevant today, and even more prominently I would say. In fact, it may be the only reason the music has survived and shape-shifted so much to this day. Because there is a slew of music lovers and performers committed to pushing the art form forward.

But going back to my New Yorker friends, I thought to myself, there is nothing really new about this. It’s always been hard to know where to go for good live music. Outside the well-advertised (not always advertised actually) top acts, catching a jazz show without anyone tipping you off can be challenging. You might see a familiar name in a leaflet or online magazine and decide to check them out, only to discover that the concert is cancelled or rescheduled. The music hides and its takes some tenacity to get anyone interested in looking for it.

Pianist Ethan Iverson recently spun off his popular and erudite Do the Math blog with a Do the Gig column (sign up here to receive the newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/ethaniverson) reviewing gigs happening in New York city. Here’s a screenshot I lifted from his blog. There are a lot of names I’m not familiar with but there are also big names that remind me how vibrant and diverse the music is. Given time and a little prompting from like-minded friends, I may engage in a similar endeavor some day, listing the acts that drift up on my local radar. Sometimes, you just have to get out – weather permitting – and hit the grimy streets like a hungry hound. You never know, you may stumble on something really, really good.

By the way, if you’re in town this Friday, our trio Fairly Wired will play at la Mairie du 3ème arrondissement, Paris. It will be cold outside. But we’ll make it warm inside.

Come out!

Info here:

https://fr-fr.facebook.com/events/145907389404023/

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming gigs

There comes a time when you have to stop talking about music and hit the bandstand.  If any of you happens to be in town (Paris) or France in September, Fairly Wired (in which I play bass) will be happy to perform their music. Come out!

Links below:

http://www.sunset-sunside.com/2017/9/artiste/2733/4861/

http://www.hotclubjazzlyon.com/concert/fairly-wired/

http://www.38riv.com/ (scroll down to September 27th)

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Bach in fourths, the work of Stephen Lyman

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It’s a given. Bach only died biologically. But his musical legacy is very much alive, the standard he set in the 17th century perhaps eternally unsurpassable.

I’d like to wrap up this year’s sporadic blogging with a shout-out to my friend Stephen Lyman. Steve is an American guitarist from Utah who came to Paris in 2010 and hit on the purpose of his life there: playing Bach anonymously, on the street. He first played off the streets two days after arriving here, later gravitating towards several churches, until he discovered the Eglise Saint-Germain de l’Auxerrois and felt an immediate spiritual connection to the place. Like clockwork, he still plays there today, twice a week, offering to whomever will listen the four Lute Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach adapted to the guitar, as close as he will ever get to what he calls the Muse.

There is something appealingly obsessive about a musician devoting his entire creative time to celebrating the art of a composer who died four centuries ago. Of course, Steve is an accomplished guitarist well-versed in the classical repertoire, and who has performed professionally in various music styles for the better part of his life. But at this particular point on his journey, Bach seems to tie it together for him and represent the culmination of what he as a performing musician can achieve in his pursuit for artistic beauty. He will only play the Bach from here on out. Who could fault him for such a lofty commitment?

Though the music of Bach has experienced a resurgence in recent years, Baroque music getting seemingly more and more popular, the composer’s prolific oeuvre has often been reduced to its mathematical logic and formal precision. Granted, I’ve looked at Bach scores for keyboard and even played some when I was little, and it’s pretty discouraging. Visually distressing. I mean, all those 16th notes, come on…

Listening to Bach on guitar is an educational experience, though. It lets you hear a side of Bach you may not have thought about before: the simplicity and purity of Bach’s artistic statement, the greatness of his work for unaccompanied strings laid bare in front of you. The fugal quality of the writing dear to the composer is revealed in its beautiful architecture. The left hand moving across the different registers of the fingerboard, breaks down the magical relationship between the harmonic line in the low and middle registers with the fugal melodic statements weaving in and out on top. You can actually see and hear that and it all makes sense.

And how appropriate to celebrate Bach at this church. Here is where the bell tolled for the thousands of Protestant Huguenots who died during the infamous Bartholomew’s massacre in the 16th century. But if even you didn’t know it was there the first time, as I didn’t, it’s hard not to feel the particular aura radiating from this historic landmark. When you first walk in and hear the sound of a classical guitar playing somewhere down the nave, you will want to go there, its resonance will coax you over. It is the sound of a musician who is giving you Bach and expects nothing in return. The guitar case is open if you want to drop a coin but that’s not the point. Steve has worked on and polished up these pieces for over thirty years and still feels like he is a beginner with them. Whatever wrong or fluffed note may occur, and there are usually very few of them, Steve has developed an intimate relationship with these technically demanding but magnificent pieces. He practices them everyday rigorously and only performs them “when they’re ready”.

Steve has a CD out, Recital in the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, a recording on which he plays the Chaconne from the d minor Partita for Violin BW 1004, the Lute Suite BWV 995 and the Lute Suite BWV 997, in that order.

Christmas is only 10 days away, so if you’re still not sure what to put in your loved ones’ stockings, give them a little Bach and support one of his most admirable devotees.

Note: Stephen Lyman performs twice a week at Eglise Saint-Germain de l’Auxerrois, 2 Place du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France. Tuesdays & Fridays, 2pm-3pm. However,  due to the low temperatures in winter, Steve’s impromptu recitals may be more few and far between.

Johann Sebastian Bach, Stephen Lyman

Recital in the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Pitié Salpêtrière, Chaconne, Lute Suites BWV 995, 997.