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Your Old Beatnik in Paris, November 2010

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Jack Roberts Beatnik's JourneyYour “Old Beatnik” fell into a bit of luck in November. My wife had to go to work in Paris for a whole week, in fact she would be there for eight days. Well I couldn’t imagine not be a gentleman and going along to keep her happy. Of course, while she had three free days and five work days, the Old Beatnik would have eight free days.

Then Becky and I went on a dinner cruise on the Seine where I was shocked at the quality of the music. It was a mix of French and Latin Jazz, of course when we came into view of the small Statue of Liberty with the Eiffel Tower in the background, the singer felt compelled to sing “New York, New York.” It was obvious English wasn’t her native language and it was a little cheesy, but it was a very tourist thing to do. Still as I said I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the music, and by the way, the food too.

I was amazed at how much jazz there was in Paris. In the Latin Quarter it was not at all uncommon to walk up on a really good jazz group. Unlike street performers in San Francisco, people stayed and listened for twenty or thirty minutes. People even hung out the windows to listen.

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The first sign of how well this trip was going to go was when we were crossing the street to our hotel and I saw that on the same block was the Le Petit Journal Montparnasse Jazz Club. So the very first night we went to hear Manu Le Prince Quintet play a tribute to Cole Porter and I went back another night to hear them do a tribute to Jobim.

It was very interesting to observe the audience at the club. I’m a regular at Yoshi’s in Oakland, and I sadly have to admit that the crow tends toward the over-50 crowd. The audience at the French club was, first, nearly all locals, just as it would be at Yoshi’s, but that’s where the similarities ended. The venue was dominated by those in their twenties and thirties. There were a good many over fifty, but no more than 25%. The audience also seemed much more into the music, with many willing to stand at the bar for the whole two hours’ performance.

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Then Becky and I went on a dinner cruise on the Seine where I was shocked at the quality of the music. It was a mix of French and Latin Jazz, of course when we came into view of the small Statue of Liberty with the Eiffel Tower in the background, the singer felt compelled to sing “New York, New York.” It was obvious English wasn’t her native language and it was a little cheesy, but it was a very tourist thing to do. Still as I said I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the music, and by the way, the food too.

I was amazed at how much jazz there was in Paris. In the Latin Quarter it was not at all uncommon to walk up on a really good jazz group. Unlike street performers in San Francisco, people stayed and listened for twenty or thirty minutes. People even hung out the windows to listen.

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Of course jazz isn’t the only great music in Paris. Everywhere I looked there were tributes to the greats of jazz, especially the Doors. At the Père Lachaise Cemetery you find the graves of Jim Morrison, Stephane Grappelli, Edith Piaf, and many more famous classical musicians and singers, painters, philosophers, and politicians.

Paris was a beautiful city with great, great food, great museums, great art, even great cemeteries, but ten days away from my stereo. I thought I would really miss listening to my music, but I was wrong. Why? Because, there was so much music everywhere I went, especially jazz. I sure hope Becky’s boss sees fit to send her back to Paris to work. I especially hope it’s in spring.

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