European Tour With Rob Duguay

It is one thing to study music and another to live the musician's life. Next week I will start a month-long tour with my good friend the bassist Rob Duguay. I hope that we will still be friends after spending a month together almost 24/7!

I will start one day earlier with a masterclass at the music conservatory of Cergy Pontoise and a concert that night with the students. On Tuesday 14 we will be playing at the Duc Des Lombards in Paris with drummer Donald Kontomanou.

For a more accurate list of the concerts, visit the calendar page. If you are in the area please come say hi, and if you are interested in booking us for a concert or private event, it might still be possible so just contact me!


  So we are Sunday April 12 and I am flying to Paris... in Business class (just making clear for talent buyers my traveling requirements). Stretching my legs and drinking champagne in preparation for take off.       Still needed to take a nap at the airport before driving to the conservatory for the class

We landed Monday morning. I had breakfast and took a shower at the airport before driving to Cergy Pontoise to meet the students and work with them during the afternoon.

Guillaume Perez is the saxophone teacher at the conservatory of Cergy. I met him when we were studying at the Nada and Lili Boulanger Conservatory in Paris some 15 years ago. It was so nice to reconnect with him and see the great work he is doing with the students.

We worked all afternoon on some of my reharmonizations of standards, which is something I do a lot. Sometimes I just keep the reharmonzation as it is, and sometimes I transform it in an original composition. Guillaume had selected a reharmonization of the standard On Green Dolphin St I wrote for my first album Stop Requested, my composition Overnight Flight (a reharmonization of Night And Day) recorded on the album Roundtrip, my composition Alligator Blues (based on Gingerbread Boy) recorded on my album with Kenny Barron and a reharmonization of the song Just You Just Me that I haven't recorded yet but I did a lesson about this song on my educational website

After spending the afternoon rehearsing, we all went to the theater to soundcheck for the concert. At the end of the soundcheck I put my saxophone on my flightcase but it slided and fell, bending 2 keys. The low Eb couldn't open and the low C couldn't close. I was lucky a student had an extra saxophone I could use for the concert!
 After the concert I rode the train to Paris and had a nice chat with one of the student, André, who was on the train with me.

The next morning at 10am I had a rehearsal with pianist Leila Olivesi. She recently recorded a new album and we will play at the Duc Des Lombards on May 8th and 9th. Despite a saxophone that was not working properly, I managed to do the rehearsal, and it's always nice to play with Leila and her band (guitarist Manu Codjia, bassist Yoni Zelnik and drummer Donald Kontomanou).Her album Utopia is released on the label Jazz & People and you can purchase it on Amazon and Itunes.Then I went to the Duc Des Lombards to have a quick rehearsal with Rob Duguay and drummer Donald Kontomanou. We had a really great night and I want to thank the staff at the Duc and especially Lois Ognar who takes great care of the musicians. Also shout out to Buffet Group and Aurelien Amzallag for bringing two brand new Keilwerth saxophones directly to the club so I could choose one to play the concert! On top of making great instruments, they are amazing people, thank you!

On Wednesday I went to the Buffet Group factory in Mantes La Ville to bring back the saxophones and to get my horn fixed. Again, thank you for the big help. Their technician Anthony did a great job and fixed my saxophone in the afternoon so I could keep on my tour with my own horn. Then my good friend Philippe Leconte guided us through the factory for a little tour. It is really incredible the number of operations necessary to make an instrument and it was inspiring to see the passion and  the attention to the details the workers have.


Buffet Crampon bass saxophone from 1929

After that I drove back to Paris to play with Rob and drummer Jean-Pascal Molina. Jean-Pascal is not only a great friend and drummer, he owns a very nice restaurant called La Timbale. Always a pleasure to play there with J-P (and eat too!). We had many friends who stopped by and jammed with us so we had a lot of fun that night!

The following night, we played with J-P again but at his brother's restaurant, Le Débonnaire. Same idea: nice place, good food, good friends, good music, late night!

Firday was off, but I did go out to see my friend saxophonist Melissa Aldana who played at the Duc Des Lombards. Always fun to meet friends and neighbors from New York somewhere else in the world!

Saturday is off too so I'm catching up with emails, website etc... Tomorrow morning I'm going to London for 2 days. Hopefully the weather will be as nice as it is right now in Paris...

 I took the Eurostar at 11am and it is quite convenient I must say to be able to ride a train from the center of Paris to the center of London in about 2 hours. They must know how convenient it is because the ticket price is ridiculously expensive. Quite incredible to be on a train under the water, couldn't see any fish though!

Nice ceiling at the London St Pancras train station

The weather was actually pretty nice and it was still early so I decided to walk to the venue, which was about a 30 minute walk from the train station. It is not useless in London to write on the floor where to look when crossing the street! I met Rob at the venue, Tredwell's. The venue was really nice and the staff super friendly, and the food really good, so Rob and I had a really nice time there. After the gig we went to a jam session in a club I forgot the name. There were some really great players there and I rode the bus back home with my friends Thomas and Sarah who live in a huge loft in a neighborhood called Seven Sisters. 

The next day I spent the day with Thomas and Sarah. We walked along the river and had some fish and chips in a restaurant by the river that opened in 1616! Rob joined us and suggested we'd rent some bicyles to ride around London. The weather was really gorgeous so it was a good idea. We went to the Big Ben of course and then to a park where we spent the rest of the afternoon.

That night we played at the famous jazz club the Ronnie Scott's. They have two rooms, the main stage on the ground floor and another stage on the second floor. We played the main stage with drummer Enzo Zirilli and pianist Ross Stanley, two excellent musicians. I wasn't feeling very well that night, having quite a bad headache but still I enjoyed the performance and did my best to play the challenging compositions of Rob!

Because I had a bad headache (is there such a thing as a good headache?) I went back home pretty soon after our hit. We had to wake up fairly early the next morning to get our plane to go to Milano. 

Tuesday April 22nd, it's time for us to leave London and go to Milan. We decided to book our flight with Ryanair because it's super cheap. One reason why they are the cheapest is they always use the least convenient airport. Differently put, their airport is far! But hey, we're on tour so we're trying to save a few bucks whenever it's possible! So we wanted to go to the airport by bus, but when we arrived at the bus station we realized the traffic was so bad we'd never make it in time so we had to change plan. We decided to go in the tube and hop on a train to the airport. More expensive than the bus but faster. We finally made it to the airport and got on our plane. Low cost airlines do have cheap tickets, but then you have to pay for everything. Make sure you print your boarding pass or you will have to pay to have it printed at the airport! Now, here is a little tip: have it on your cell phone or tablet, go through security and have it printed for free at the gate. You're welcome.

For a short flight like this, it's really fine to fly a low cost airlines, but the Ryanair cabins are really awful. Bright yellow and blue... Of course you have to pay for everything on board so make sure you got some food and water.

We arrived in Milan and met Erica. She is an italian artist and we will be playing at the gallery where she has her art exhibition. We had dinner in a great little restaurant and talked about music and art all night.

The next day Erica, Rob and I walked around the city and then Rob and I played at the gallery that night. All my Italian friends talked pretty badly about Milan, but I got to say I found it to be a beautiful city and I enjoyed very much the people I met.

The next night we went to listen to the quartet of guitarist Sandro Gibellini and clarinetist Alfredo Ferrario with bassist Roberto Piccolo and drummer Massimo Caracca in a club called Baretto. Alfredo has a beautiful sound on the clarinet, great swing and musical ideas. Sandro was also very impressive. They invited Rob and I to play with them and that was yet another late night hang.

I also had the pleasure to meet saxophonist Iwan Roth. He is a legendary classical musician and we have been talking a lot about music by email and Skype, so it was really great to meet him in person. On this photo we are in front of La Scala where he has played many times. It was very inspiring to talk with him, he has such a young spirit, thank you Iwan!

Time to go back to Paris. I went to see my friend saxophonist Jon Boutellier playing. He has such a beautiful sound on the tenor! I really love his playing and his quartet was really burning that night (pianist Fred Nardin, bassist Geraud Portal and drummer Romain Sarron). He was kind enough to invite me play some tunes with them.

We have a few days off until flying to helsinki on Tuesday. Talk to you then!
I flew on Wednesday May 29th from Paris to Helsinki where I met Rob and Timo Hirvonen who runs Koko Jazz Club. We stayed the first night at Timo's house and the next day we woke up, played some music the three of us, went to the sauna and then drove to our hotel in Helsinki. We had a blast playing at Koko, I wish all the club owners could learn from Timo Hirvonen and Anna Veijalainen how to run a club and make musicians feel good. I am always amazed to see how in the jazz business, the club owners seem most of the time to make a point to be extremely rude to the musicians. They don't seem to realize that this does have a huge negative impact on their own business. Well, that is not the case with Koko jazz club in Helsinki. Thank you so much Timo and Anna for your hospitality and professionalism, we really had a wonderful time in Helsinki.

From Helsinki we took a boat to Tallinn in Estonia where we played in a club called Philly Joe's. The old part of the city is wonderful, with most of it being like it was centuries ago. We spent two days in Tallinn and then rode the bus to Riga in Latvia. There we gave a class at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. That same night we played at Cafe Dali, a very nice room packed for the occasion. 
The following day we gave a concert and played with some students in the store Mūzikas Centrs with the support of Keilwerth and Buffet Group.

Riga was our last leg of the tour with Rob. He went back to Finland for some concerts and I flew to Paris to play two nights with Leila Olivesi at the Duc Des Lombards. Congratulations to Leila, she made a wonderful album and packed the club for 4 concerts which is not small feature. 

After our show my friend Jon Boutellier played with his quartet with another good friend of mine, pianist Franck Amsallem. It was great to hear them, the band was really burning, and again I had the pleasure to sit in and play.

Sunday was off so I went to the theater and I flew back to New York on Monday, in Business class on the Boeing 777 :)

1 comment

  • Robert Duguay, Sr.

    Robert Duguay, Sr. Monterey, CA

    Felicitations! M Duguay


    M Duguay

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