I’m visiting my family for the holidays in the south of France, I did my last gig last weekend in New York, and my next concert is on January 3, 2017 with Leïla Olivesi. I can look back at 2016 and reflect on the good and bad moments. Actually I didn't have too many bad moments, so I'll mention some of the best ones, some of the funny ones and one shitty gig in Germany.
World Citizen Band, Ecuador
Recently I went on tour in Ecuador with the World Citizen Band. We did a concert at Teatro Variedades in Quito. The theater was really nice and the technicians did a great job. It's worthy to mention also that they put the band in a very nice hotel and had a van to drive us everywhere we needed to go. I wish more concert organizers could understand that this does help for a successful concert. When the band is in a shitty hotel, has no one to help to get around in an unknown city, the sound guy sucks and so on, at the end of the day, the musicians are not in their best shape to create incredible music.
That night the band played what I think was one of its best concert, if not the best.
Here is a short video and you can read more about this tour.
Mingus Big Band
Playing with the Mingus Big Band at the Jazz Standard is always a treat for me. This is my favorite club in NYC and I get to play with some of the baddest cats around. In September we played one show that was a hair more exceptional than usual. Maybe it was because most of us were back in NYC after touring over the summer and we were all happy to be back in NYC, the band was on fire that night.
Here is a video of me soloing over Fables Of Faubus:
In May I flew from Los Angeles to Seclin to play a concert for Buffet Crampon. Well, if you’re French I guess that made you smile. Seclin is a town in the north of France near Lille, very contrasting with Los Angeles...
I arrived in Seclin and met Gino Samyn, another Buffet Crampon artist who plays the Senzo Saxophone. I had met him for the first time when he came to New York to play a concert. He is a teacher in Lille and helped organizing the concerts and classes I gave there.
I met that afternoon the musicians I was going to play with that night. We had only one rehearsal and our concert that night was off the charts. I really enjoyed playing with the band and the public was also very receptive.
Here is a short video of the concert:
In August I spent a week teaching in a remote village in the mountains in the south of France for Coartjazz, organized by Magali and Jean-Marie Deray. I had a great time working with Tina May, Pierre De Bethmann, Federico Casagrande, Felipe Cabrera, Matthieu Chazarenc, Louis Moutin, and with the students in this wonderful environment and playing jam sessions at night. I'm looking very forward to Coartjazz 2017!
Here is a photo of the teachers from our concert:
Jazz A Vienne
Another good moment teaching was at Jazz A Vienne with pianist Cedric Hanriot and drummer Donald Kontomanou. It was very challenging for us to get 40 teenagers to play together and prepare a concert but it was very rewarding and I'm also looking forward to teach again there in July 2017.
We're missing a few students on this photo but I think it shows the atmosphere:
Now the funny moments.
I love Mexico and I'm very happy to go there regularly and play with my friends. Sometimes it can be challenging to get used to the flexibility of Mexican organization and its funny moments.
I played a concert in duo with Alex Mercado, who is a fantastic Mexican pianist, for a big festival. Now we're talking about hundreds of artists from different countries coming to play this festival that lasts several weeks. The day of the concert, the location of the concert changed about 3 or 4 times. Then, a couple hours before the concert I am told that Alex is going to play on a synthesizer. Yes, a synthesizer, not even an electric piano. At that point I had to tell them either we play on a real piano (like discussed before and written in the contract) or we don't play. They didn't get a piano but they found another venue with a piano, and we had to drive an hour to get to the new location. When we arrived a guy was tuning the piano but because it had not been tuned in years, it was very flat and the tuning changed during the concert.
In the end the whole thing was pretty funny and Alex and I had a lot of fun playing together:
Another funny story: I'm in Brussels with my friend bassist Rob Duguay. We arrived to the club and they literally forgot there was a concert that night. Funny, right? But they had to get a bass for Rob, so now the guy is frantically looking for a bass in Brussels. We did get the bass and played our concert with about 2 hours delay.
The shitty gig when we got screwed by the club
Now here is something that pisses me off. Clubs that screw you. Luckily I don't get too many gigs there, because I get screwed once, but rarely twice and never a third time. I played in that club in Berlin, I was a sideman so to avoid the leader to have any problem with that club I won't say the name, even though I think he should never play there again (I sure won't). We knew that the club didn't officially charge a cover but customers were asked a 10 euros "donation for the band" and we packed the club so we were confident we were going to make decent money. That was without counting the cut that the club takes out of the donations!
See, I understand they don't want to take risks, they just want to sell beers, and asking for donations instead of charging a cover is one work around, I get that, I have no problem with this. But if the club is not taking any risk, not paying the band a minimum guarantee, not promoting the show, basically doing nothing but selling drinks, why would they take a cut of the band money without the band taking a cut of the bar? Specially when they do not make us aware of that little nugget in advance.
I can't mention here all the great times I've had this year playing with so many musicians in different countries. I'm very grateful to have this opportunity of playing music with them, and I'm looking forward to some more music and traveling in 2017.
Big thank you to anyone who expressed even remotely some interest in my music! Happy holidays, merry Christmas and all my best wishes for 2017 to everyone!
PS: if any professional musician reads this, he/she will probably think "only one shitty gig in a year? I don't believe it!", and he/she would be right.