le jazz est, quand le jazz est là,
la java s'en, la java s'en va ...
...elle écrase sa gauloise et s'en va dans la rue.
LOVE PARIS Paris, a beautiful city, great for paying
a visit and admire many historical places, admiring the architecture,
go to museums, have dinner in a small restaurant at Montmartre,
and what else. However, if you live in Paris, coming from abroad,
you develop a different relationship. You learn to like the city
and its inhabitants, you adept to their way of communicating which
may seem cold and rude at times, especially tourists do complain,
but this Parisian way is fast and efficient, and generally it has
no mean meaning.
DE POLICE After my arrival I had to report to thepréfecture
de police with my passport, two small ID pictures,
and a certificate (déclaration) stating at what address I
lived and who my employer was. In no time I had my carte
d'identité which you had to carry on you and
should show it when requested. But more important for me was that
now I was a Parisian, so it felt, with all other Parisians.
the Sunny Side of the Street
An old postcard with a narrow street in the 18th arrondissement,
Montmartre, with the "basilica du Sacré Coeur"
in the background.
I was completely new to this metropole, so I walked and walked and
travelled by bus and metro to discover the plan of Paris, the various
quartiers, the neighborhoods, avenues and places
(squares) and all of that. I walked and traveled from Montparnasse
to Montmartre, from Place d'Italie to Porte Clignancourt and beyond,
from Neuilly to Vincennes, and to Porte Dauphine were I worked. I
fully understood Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poem "Prologue" from
1955 and the verses "I want to ride through Paris in the morning,
hanging on to a bus like a boy." I have to admit, for Yevtushenko
it was a dream flowering, but imprisoned by the Soviet system. For
me it was reality.
the name evokes vivid visual memories, smells and sounds for
everybody. The smelling metro, hot and cold, thundering through
the city's abdomen. Or line No. 1, le métro à
pneu, clicking while riding on rubber wheels, speeding like
a "lettre pneumatique" from Neuilly to Vincennes.
One level down the stations of the RER, part of the tube smelling
like a public toilet. When I lived in Paris they were building
the first line of this Réseau Express Régional.
going out at night in the Quartier Latin it was important
not to miss the last metro to Étoile. From there
it was not too far to Rue de la Pompe, and just a short distance
to Rue des Acacias where I later had rented a studio. It also
happened that at a very late time a bus driver would pick me
up when he had to return his bus to the garage. So I did not
have to walk the last mile. Most busses were of the old fashioned,
rectangular type with an open balcony at the rear. That made
traveling a delight, especially in summer.
Germain often meant a "hamburger à cheval"
- a hamburger with a fried egg on top - in L'épicerie,
Rue des Saints-Pêres, or was it Rue Saint-Benoit? The joint
was always packed to the brim with students and travelers from
abroad as well, but it seemed that there were always a few unoccupied
seats; you and your friends were always invited to join one of
the small groups sitting elbow to elbow at the small round tables.
danced with Roland Petit's Ballet her famous and amusing "Mon
truc en plumes" in the Théatre du Trocadéro,
housed in le Palais de Chaillot. In the same complex was "la
cinématèque française", Place du
Trocadéro. There we viewed the great films of the great
cinematographers like Serguei Mikhaïlovitch Eisenstein. Le
Cuirassé Potemkine and the episodes of the magnificent
Ivan le terrible with the compelling music score composed
by Sergei Prokofiev.
had many large and smaller cinemas, about 256 at the time. They
were advertised in Pariscope, the weekly program that listed
everything that was happening in Paris. Especially the cinéma
on Avenue MacMahon, the earlier mentioned cinématèque,
and there was Empire Cinérama, Avenue Wagram which
had its Russian counterpart Kinopanorama on Avenue de la
Motte Piquet. In contrast was the small Studio Opéra
that featured the cartoons of Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Brother
Rabbit, Daffy Duck and other funny and famous characters.
friend Irene was a far better pianist than I am. We often went
to play in a studio of Salle Pleyel, which you could
rent by the hour. Our favorite shop was Piano Hamm at Rue
de Rennes? There we tried these wonderful concert grands before
we were kicked out by a severe lady manager or some other official.
We both loved the Grotrian Steinweg in The Living Room.
And we loved the Hungarian Restaurant Le Tokay with live gypsy
the Champs Elysées we saw "West Side Story"
in the original version but we had to wait for years to see "Porgy
and Bess" despite the fact that it was produced years
before. 'Porgy and Bess' was never shown as far as I can remember.
The movie theater that had bought the rights for playing Sam Spiegel's
movie continued showing West Side Story with great success. There
was no hall that showed Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge
in Gershwin's masterpiece. Could be that the Gershwin Estate had
already started a law suit to forbid the screening of the movie.
every epoch Paris is filled with famous and not so famous stars,
musicians, painters, designers.
Mercer had rented the small studio above mine in Rue de
la Pompe (where I lived before moving to Rue des Acacias). She
was busy to further her career which had more or less begun with
her appearance in "Le glaive et la balance",
the movie with Anthony Perkins and Jean-Claude Brialy. Before
going to the night club Blues Bar (owned by Maurice Girodias)
were she was performing, she always broke an "empoule buvable"
with 1000 mg. of Vitamin C to boost her stamina. She later returned
to the US and continued her acting carreer. You should see her
act as assertive servant Hallie in that fantastic Don Siegel movie
made a few years later The Beguiled.
every Wednesday we played in the "Loterie nationale"
to contribute to the funds of Les gueules cassées,
Les mutilés de guerre and many other institutions,
while hoping to become millionaires.
DES CHAMPS ELYSEES Music
has always played an important role in my life. Not only classical.
Important was jazz music too, maybe unintentionally, maybe it became
significant more or less naturally evolving from big band music
I listened to when I was a kid, and the exploration of contemporary
and less contemporary styles. And Paris always had - and still has
- a lot of jazz to offer.
When Ella Fitzgerald came to sing in
the Théatre des Champs Elyssées, and Duke
Ellington and His Orchestra came to town in 1965, we would
visit their concerts. Ella sang evergreens, ballads, and up-tempo
while scat singing and improvising on the Porter, Gershwin and Arlen
standards we all loved.
But to our surprise (and somewhat to our dismay) she also sang the
Beatles' Can't Buy Me Love showing that she was up
to date. I felt sort of betrayed. Yes, she also sang But I'm
always true to you darling in my fashion.... Yes, I'm always true
to you darling in my way...
But there was more music and musicianship to enjoy. There was Ray
Nance's violin, Cat Anderson and Cootie Williams (trumpet), Johnny
Hodges, Russell Procope and Paul Gonsalves (alto), Sam Woodyard
on drums, and the Duke overviewing the band from the immense, long
concert grand piano and instructing the audience with his finger
snapping bit. And there always would be an after concert gathering
in some bar or jazz club.
My most loved jazz venue was The Living
Room, Rue du Colisée, between the Champs-Elysées
and Faubourg Saint Honoré, in the 8th Arrondissement. On
most Saturday nights Paula and I visited the bar were two Afro-American
pianists were playing: Art Simmons
and Aaron Bridgers. They both
had been living in Paris for several years and that is probably
why Leonard Feather did not give them entries in The Encyclopedia
Of Jazz (Bonanza Books, 1960).
Art Simmons was assisted by a drummer and a bass player - I had
forgotten their names but found them in a publication: Gilbert Rovère
and Stuart Da Silva respectively, and later Luigi Trussardi and
Charles Bellonzi, and also René Nan and Michel Gaudry are
mentioned. But I do not recall them as I always looked at how Art
would play, often sitting next to him watching his hands touching
the keyboard. He let me. I never thought that maybe he would not
have liked it, or my observing his art could have irritated him,
or just made him play more intensely, starting very calmly, displaying
the melody or the phrase, repeat it with a few variations, and then
gradually building up and exploring ever more complex clusters of
harmonies while completely getting carried away, though he always
remained in control. Something like Oscar Peterson. But he had his
own style, reminding me at times of Phineas Newborn on Lester Koenig's
In my opinion this way of Simmons's playing has never been fully
captured on tape, as is so often the case with performing artists,
classical and jazz, the records that have been made cannot replace
the actual performance. Nevertheless the records Art Simmmons made
are to be cherished. The old recordings issued on the Don Byas CDs
evoke the atmosphere of the early 50s. Next to Byas he played with
Jean Jacques Tilche, Roger Grasset, Claude Marty, Joe Benjamin,
and Bill Clarke. And he also recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Bill
Graham, and Joe Benjamin.
The Mercury record "Boogie Woogie - Piano Stylings"
was made in France and gives us virtuoso performances. There is
also this 45 rpm disc with trumpet player Georges Jouvin.
But the virtuosity and the ecstasy displayed in The Living Room
was unique. Other records that exist of Art Simmons, notably Art
Simmons and his Orchestra on Ducretet Thomson, are difficult to
find, and I did not get the chance to hear these.
WING HI-FI STEREO
I was not aware at the time that Art had made quite a few recordings.
The Mercury recording (SRW 12505) was made in Studio A at Barclay
Studios Hoche in Paris, a famous venue for recording classical artists
as well. In 1951 Eddy Barclay had founded Compagnie Phonographique
Française and associated himself with American Mercury
Records from Chicago. By 1954 Eddy Barclay managed three labels,
Riviera for tango, Blue Star for rock and pop, and Mercury for jazz.
That is how Art's Mercury recording came about.
Next to Art Simmons there was French pianist Maurice Vander, drummers
Kenny Clarke and Baptist Reilles, and Emmanuel Soudieux, bass. The
image above is taken from the back of the cover of the Mercury disc.
The producers and technicians of the
label pay much attention to the choice of microphones and the
microphone placement. Mercury's David Carroll writes on the
back of the cover of SRW 12505 that a variety of accent microphones
were used: Neumann KM 53 for the piano, RCA 44 BX
for the bass, Neumann KM 56 for drums, and a pair of Neumann
U 47 microphones were set apart and above the artists to provide
the basic stereo image. The result is a lively and energizing recording.
Aaron's style was quite different. It was inspired by Art Tatum.
Aaron had developed his own luxurious sound coming from his big
hands, grasping the large chords, striding and breaking with a deep
echoing sound. Aaron knew that I liked his playing, his phrasing
and improvising. But he also knew that I was fond of Art's expressionist's
explorations too. As a listener you can like the styles of Art Tatum
and Fats Waller, but at the same time find bebop or whatever style
inspiring. Aaron had appeared as the pianist in the movie
Paris Blues (1961) with Sidney
Poitier and Paul Newman in the lead. That explains the
appearance of Poitier in The Living Room whenever he visited Paris
and why at one time I found myself sitting at the bar next to him,
engaging in a sympathetic conversation.
Aaron Bridgers was born on January 10, 1918. He died on November
3, 2003. There is much more on the web to read about him. See his Obituary
published in The Guardian.
The piano these fine jazz pianists played on was a marvelously sounding
Grotrian Steinweg. A grand piano with a wonderful, warm and yet
controlled sonority in the lower register, a beautiful mid section
and not overbright but well defined, tangible highs. Something like
a crossing of a Baldwin and a Steinway or Bösendorfer? It was
not a black shiny lacquered one, but a matte, nut brown grand which
would fit well into The Living Room. In any case a grand piano to
fall in love with. I said to myself that if I ever would be wealthy,
that this would be the piano I was going to buy. After I had left
for Holland, a couple of years later I visited Paris again and invited
the television crew I was working with to listen to good jazz in
The Living Room. But then the Grotrian-Steinweg had - after so many
years of good service - been replaced by a new black, shiny grand
with a somewhat less enchanting sonority.
Anderson in the 1970s on the cover of Black & Blue LP 33.113
CS 8707: Duke Ellington, Midnight in Paris.
Simmons at the piano and Georges Jouvin
playing the trumpet. La voix de son maître 45 RPM EP EGF 879.
Simmons (piano) can be
heard in 23 selections with various artists. With Dizzy Gillespie,
Don Byas, Joe Benjamin, Pierre Michelot, Pierre Lemarchand. These
were recorded in the Téatre des Champs Elysées
in 1950 (July) and in 1952 (February 6, March 16, March
25, and April 6, and recordings were made on April 10).
Nougaro: Le cinéma, Les Don Juan, Une petite fille, Le jazz
et la java. With Michel Legrand and his orchestra. Philips 45 RPM
EP 432.809 BE from around 1962. See and hear
c.s. perform Nougaro's "Armstrong" on YouTube
Arion ASV 52 Aaron Bridgers gives examples of his calm and
entertaining style under the title Music for Dreaming: Summertime,
Bess, you is my woman now, Caravan, Perdido, Somebody loves me,
Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life, and 8 more songs.
Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in Otto Preminger's film Porgy
Reading Image from the Soundfountain Archive.
I attended courses given by the Alliance française,
given in the "dépendance" at Boulevard Malesherbe.
One evening the administrator entered the classroom and she talked
in a soft, whispering voice to our teacher who looked all of a
sudden very shocked. When the administrator had left, she spoke
to us and said: "Le président Kennedy est mort.
Il a été assassiné". President John
F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. That was on Friday,
November 22, 1963.
my friend and colleague Paula, I spent several Sunday afternoons
at Marpessa Dawn's place in "le banlieu". Marpessa of
course had become very famous by starring in "Orfeu negro"
(Black Orpheus), and she performed on stage, night after night,
in "Chérie noire".
liner notes of Fontana 6424 026: Orfeu Negro was the beginning
of a musical style which became as famous as the film itself:
bossa nova. It captured North America first, by influencing the
course of jazz and was rapidly spreading all over Europe and the
rest of the world. Luis Bonfa and Antonio Carlos Jobim, nowadays
two living legends, together with the Brazilian singer Joao Gilberto
were the composers of the soundtrack and also the creators of
helped Indonesian friends by sewing curtains and napkins for their
newly opened small Indonesian restaurant. Sometimes we had a meal
there to contribute to the cash register which was most of the
time nearly empty. It
was no competition to the only big Indonesian restaurant in
home from a night out we would play music of Frank Sinatra, Judy
Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbara, Yves Montand, or listen to
Guy Bedos. Most of my records were bought at "Lido musique"
on the Champs Elyssées. Lilly Christova (originally
from Bulgaria) worked their in the evenings until closing time
at midnight. Afterwards we often had a coffee or drink in a "café-tabac"
in a side street of the Champs Elyssées until three or
four in the morning. And then she would recite Tatjana's letter
from Yevgeny Onegin.
musique would order any record from the US. Art Blakey on Blue
Note, Duke Ellington on Columbia 6-eye, David Fathead Newman on
Manne on Contemporary.
winter we swam in the pool in Rue de Tilsitt before going to work.
In summer we went sunbathing at Piscine Déligny
where everybody was sort of showing off. Stars and celebrities.
Especially if you had a well shaped physique as Serge Nubret
did. The juke box played "Hello Dolly" sung by Louis
Armstrong, and you could hear Sinatra crooning "Oh, you crazy
a Sunday evening began with a meal in Pub Renault on Champs
Elysées, the showroom annex restaurant: salade aux crevettes,
a Tuborg beer and a St. James Blues for dessert, the delicious
ice cream on rum-soaked cake.
Brenda I visited concerts of the Colonne Orchestra with George
Sebastian conducting and in the "Théâtre
des Champs-Élysées" we saw and heard "L'orchestre
du Conservatoire de Paris". André Cluytens
conducted Ravel's Boléro with just lifting one finger -
only near the end his movements became wild and energizing. There
I heard for the first time Kirill Kondrashin (Kirill Kondrachine).
also was Le Club Batucada, the Brazilian club where we
danced the batucada (of course) and other exotic dances like the
bossa nova that had become en vogue. With Patrick,
a friend, I often visited "La paillotte" (rue
Monsieur le Prince), "Le caméleon", and
"Le crocodile", the jazz clubs where they played
LP records. In "Le crocodile" it was the extraordinary
made by Thorens which carefully changed from Jackie McLean
to John Coltrane, from Thelonious Monk, via Art Blakey and Dexter
Gordon to Bud Powell. On Sundays the fun of live jazz presented
itself in "La cigale" in Montmartre.
could give the impression that we were on a holiday. But my stay
lasted three and a half years. Even if we had visited every location
say five times, than the total is probably not more than five
hundred visits to all the addresses mentioned above. That means
eight percent of our free time.
was born on February 5, 1926, enlisted in the US Army, and played
in Army Bands in various European countries after World War Two
had ended. When he came to France he started studying at the Paris
Conservatory (Conservatoire national de musique) and would play
in bars and clubs to support his stay and studies. Paris has a long
jazz history and always had an attraction for foreign talents; and
it still has. Big names are linked to the city of lights: Django
Reinhardt, Sidney Bechet, Don Byas, Bud Powell, to name a few.
When Art Simmons had settled down he played in the Ringside, renamed
Blue Note, in the Mars Club, and from 1963 till 1969 in The Living
Room, Rue du Colisée. He was the pianist in the three movies
listed on the IMDb website: Deux hommes
dans Manhattan (1959; Melville), Trois chambres à Manhattan
(1965; Marcel Carné), and Borsalino (1970; Jacques Deray).
There is however no entry in Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz
like a few more names of musicians who lived abroad are missing.
Simmons or Bridgers decided that a session should come to an end,
they played Duke Ellington's Prelude To A Kiss to let the
other know that it was his turn now.
The Living Room was the place to be. It could happen that Memphis
Slim unexpectedly entered, sat behind the Grotrian Steinweg
and started to sing the blues and played a few boogie woogies too.
Or Claude Nougaro visited and
sang and played 'Le jazz et la java'. Pianist Martial
Solal played in his modernistic style. Also composer-pianist-orchestra
leader Michel Legrand sometimes
dropped by, played and sang. All just for fun, but always inspired
by the friendly atmosphere. They wanted to meet their colleagues,
came after a concert, or just came to relax. And there was Margie,
the singer. She sang "Just squeeze me, but please don't tease
me", and she sang of course her song "Margie",
while handsome bartender Gilles was shaking cocktails and serving
June 26, 1972 edition of Raleigh Register from Beckley, West Virginia
features an article written by Bernard Aronson. The headline reads
"Jazz Pianist Comes Home From Paris... For Good?" For Simmons, who
has lived in Paris since the end of World War II, it's the first
visit home in 10 years, says this time he might just stay... and
April 23, 2018, Arthur Eugene Simmons passed away at his home in
Beckley, WV. Both Fayette Tribune and The Raleigh Register
on April 27, 2018.
A French friend recently remarked that I had lived in a far more
interesting Paris than the Paris of today. I of course do disagree
but I know what he means, even though I did not witness - at least
not consciously - so many other jazz greats who were performing
in those days: René Urtreger; Pierre Michelot; Daniel Humair;
Stéphane Grapelli; Jean-Luc Ponty; Eddy Louis; Phil Woods;
André Persiani; Guy Lafitte; Claude Bolling; and more.
The atmosphere made me a fond collector of the fabulous Black
and Blue lp records of so many greats: Don Byas; Slam
Stewart; Cozy Cole; J.C. Heard (their earliest recordings can
be found on
78 RPM and Remington LPs), Major Holley; Cat Anderson; Guy
Lafitte; Jacques Dufivier; Cliff Smalls; Buddy Tate; Ellen Humes;
Gérard Badini; Oliver Jackson; Hank Jones.
My first encounter with the music of Duke
Ellington was when, as a fourteen year old, I had bought
HiFi Ellington Uptown, the Columbia
recording released in Europe by Philips: A Tone-parallel to Harlem,
The Mooche, Take the A-Train (with singer Betty
Roché) and Perdido. High caliber big band jazz,
symphonic and jungle style.
One day when Duke Ellington and his Orchestra were in town again
and would give concerts in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées,
one of my black friends, Gene, called me on the phone and invited
me to go to the Ritz Hotel to see Duke Ellington. When we arrived,
Ellington was in a conference and did not have time for us. Well,
said Gene, we go see Billy Strayhorn, whom he knew well.
Billy (William Thomas) Strayhorn
was also a resident of The Ritz. When we entered his room, he sat
in his blue-gray, silken morning coat behind an antique, sculptured
French desk, eating a fruit cocktail, a good meal to start the day
with after a demanding concert of the night before; good to replenish
your energy reserves. It was about two in the afternoon.
I was introduced and practically immediately tested to see if I
was of the right caliber, to see if I had that specific feeling
for jazz music. This happened when in the conversation the expression
"hell no..." was used. Billy Strayhorn, the composer of
Take the 'A' train, the tune of Ellington's band, said to me: "Say
hhhellll-nooooohh". He said it while giving the two words equal
emphasis. I did my best saying "hhelll-nooohh". I found
that I succeeded quite well. But Mr. Strayhorn, who is also the
composer of Lush Life and Sweet and Pungeant, was not at all content
with the musicality of my effort and wanted me to say it with more
feeling, with more music. He told me to listen carefully and said:
"hhhhhhellll-nooooohhhhhh", as if he was playing Johnny
Hodges's saxophone, or Ray Nance's violin. Again I repeated the
words and gave the sound a sort of turn at the end, something like
a muted trumpet or a trombone with a cup or bucket. Well, after
the third or fourth time, he decided that I had passed the test.
I had succeeded, but... only just!
That was the game he played. In 1965 that was. I
did not know then that he had already been diagnosed with cancer
a year earlier. Billy Strayhorn died two years after this encounter.
By then I had returned to the Netherlands after three and a halve
years of living in Paris.
Billy Strayhorn died on May 31st, 1967. In the Summer and Fall of
that year Duke Ellington recorded twelve Strayhorn titles (The Intemacy
Of The Blues; Rain Check; Day Dream; All Day Long; Blood Count;
U.M.M.G.; and more) for RCA, in memory of the great composer, arranger
and piano player. Ellington wrote on the cover: "Poor little
Sweet Pea. Billy Strayhorn, William Thomas Strayhorn, the biggest
human being who ever lived, a man with the greatest courage, the
most majestic artistic stature, a highly skilled musician, whose
impeccable taste commanded the respect of all musicians and the
admiration of all listeners."
tittle of RCA LSP 906 was "...and his mother called him Bill".
picture at left: Listening to the playback of the Ducretet-Thomson
recording in Studio Thorens in Paris. Third from left is Art Simmons.
The female singer at right is Billie Poole. She sang "Don't
ever leave me". Another singer Art recorded with was Bertice
Reading. The session of that recording took place on March 12,
1956 and was released on a BAM (BOITE A MUSIQUE) LD 321: Rock
And Roll; Black Coffee; It's almost Like Being In Love; Love For
Sale; St-Louis Blues; No More In Life; Old Fashioned Love; Left
in the Mars Club.
Simmons returned to Beckley WV in 1972. At lower left: Art going
for a ride in a stylish Ford Mustang with his lovely daughter
Maja Tranemose. Below a picture taken at a family reunion in 2006
when Art was about 80 years old.
regular visitor of the Mars Club was Al Jones. After his Parisian
career, he returned to the US and started acting and painting.
See his expressive paintings on The Heart Of Jazz. Fortunately
Al Jones's web site is still available on the Internet Archive's
Wayback Machine which has saved more than 332 billion web pages
over time. The last complete version of Jones's web site has been
captured on 22 November, 2015, and can be viewed by clicking this
Heart of Jazz.
Solal was awarded the "Prix Django Reinhardt" in 1955.
left Philips Hi-Fi Stereo LP 847048.
Solal & Hampton Hawes, 1968
Powell "De face et de profil".
Indigos - Columbia CS 8053 - Solitude - Where or When - Mood Indigo
- Autumn Leaves - The Sky fell down - Prelude to a Kiss - Willow
Weep for Me - Tenderly - Dancing in the Dark. My copy was ordered
in the States and to make my acquisition legetimate, the word
/ trade mark COLUMBIA had to blackened with a marker, so there
was no conflict with CBS which had established itself in Europe
just one or two years ago.
Ellington and His Orchestra in Newly Recorded Versions of Billy
Strayhorn Compositions - RCA LSP-3906
left Duke Ellington's eulogy for Billy Strayhorn, expressing the
loss his passing away meant for the orchestra, for the world of
jazz and its inhabitants, and above all for Duke Ellington personally
and for his artistry.
Uptown": Skin Deep; The Mooche; Take The A-Train (with Betty
Roche); A Tone Parallel To Harlem; Perdido.
of covers and labels and the image of Bertice Reading are from
my personal collection. Thanks to Art Simmons who sent the pictures
of him and his family. For the image of Art Simmons and artists
listening to the playback of a recording I thank Steven Jambot,
French jazz critic and historian.
Page first published on the internet in March, 2008.
Hess - jazz historian/discographer on this subject - is from Portland,
Oregon. He remembers:
had the good fortune to spend several days in Paris in May of
1966, and during my visit there, made the rounds of the jazz and
blues clubs of that time: Caveau de la Huchette, Le Chat qui Pêche,
the Blue Note, etc. It was only because of the kindness of Memphis
Slim, that I came to enjoy the many pleasures of the cozy Living
visiting with Slim at the end of his nights gig (at la Huchette),
he asked about the clubs Id been to, and told me of the
Living Room. Better yet, he said he was going by there to hang
out, and asked if I would like to ride along. Yes, of course.
Thank you. was my immediate answer, so we jumped in his
car (a beautiful Jaguar sedan) and off we drove. When we walked
into the club, Art Simmons was at the piano playing, and equally
impressive was finding one of my heroes, drummer Kenny Clarke,
chatting at the bar. I had met Kenny the previous night at the
Blue Note, where he was playing with Martial Solal, Nathan Davis
and Pierre Michelot. Nonetheless, Slim reintroduced
me to Kenny. It was a grand night of Living Room music and conversation.
So much so, that I visited the club again the next night.
while in Paris, I made a valiant effort to find Bud Powell, whom
I wanted to meet and hear in person. I knew that Buds wife,
Buttercup, ran a restaurant called Buttercups Chicken
Shack and finally, after considerable looking, managed to
find the place. Alas, it was closedpermanently it appeared.
That evening I spoke with bassist Jimmy Woode (appearing in duo
with guitarist Jimmy Gourley), at a Left Bank jazz cave (name
now forgotten). Jimmy told me that Bud had already returned to
the States, which is where Bud died shortly thereafter. I had
missed my chance to meet Bud, and the world was about to lose
a great musician." - Dennis Hess, April, 2011. More about
Hess on Lawrence Journal World.
Discographies compiled by Dennis Hess and other individuals.
30, 1949, Lausanne: James Moody Octet (Vogue, 78 RPM) May 1, 1949, Zurich: James Moody Octet (Vogue, 78 RPM)
March 25, 1952, Paris: Dizzy Gillespie - Don Byas Sextet
(Blue Star, 78 RPM) March 5 & May 3, 1954, Paris: Robert Mavounzy (alto
sax) Septet (Pathé LP) December 2, 1955, Paris: Kitty White (vocalist) Arrangements
by Simmons, no pianist listed (Clover LP) March 12, 1956, Paris: Bertice Reading (vocalist) with
Simmons Quartet (BAM LP LD 321) March 13, 1956, Paris: Art Simmons Quartet (Art w. Terry
Donoughhue (g), Bill Crow (b), Dave Bailey (d) (BAM LP & Gitanes
CD) May 26, 1956, Paris: Al "Fats" Edwards (vocalist)
with Art Simmons Quartet (Coronet LP) Unreleased? April 15, 1958, Paris: "Boogie Woogie - Piano Stylings"
- Art Simmons (p), Maurice Vander (p), drummers Kenny Clarke and
Baptist Reilles, and Emmanuel Soudieux, bass. (Wing - Mercury
LP SRW 12505). October-November, 1959, Paris: Art Simmons (p) w.
Terry (tp), E. Dixon (fl, ts), Elek Bacsik (g), Michel
Gaudry (b), Kenny Clarke (d) and on one track Billie Poole (vcl
).(Ducretet-Thomson) Late 1959/early 1960, Paris: Double
Six of Paris (vocal group) with Art Simmons Trio (Columbia/French
LP) 1966: "Deux heures du matin", Georges Jouvin, his trumpet
and his orchestra, Art Simmons at the piano - Roses of Picardie,
My Heart Sings, Old Man River, Trees. (EMI - Voix de son maître,
7 inch record reference EGF 879)
There is a beautiful but short clip on YouTube of Django Reinhardt
from a RTF Radiobroadcast of 1953, January 15, Paris, playing
Yesterday. As is noted on YouTube, the pianist is either Art Simmons
or Maurice Vander (p); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Pierre Michelot
(b); Roger Paraboschi (d). The style of the pianist is unmistakingly
Art Simmons's as it is similar to the piano in the Clark Terry
clip. We assume that it is
Simmons playing here with Reinhardt.
1953, Paris: Jimmy "Loverman" Davis (vocalist) w.
Aaron Bridgers (p), Michel de Villers (cl, as, ts), Heinz Grah
(b), Bernard Planchenault (d) (Concerteum (F) TVC-40) Circa 1955-56, Paris: Aaron Bridgers (p), Terry Donoughue
(g), Herbert Marchi (d) (Arion ASV-52)
find it with Google? Try Bing.
left the entrance to the building (immeuble) at 17, rue des Acacias,
Paris 17ème, where I lived for several years; my third address.
And at right is where I worked with collegues and friends on No.
1, Place du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny / Boulevard Lannes, political
Headquarters of NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization or - as
the French say - l'Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique Nord (OTAN).
There were Paula Beenhakker (who loved the worldly life) - Mady
Bartelds, head of the archive - Jeane Beens who could tell a lot
of her experiences when working in the Dutch ambassies in India
and Israel - Hetty, secretary to Mr. G.W. van Barneveld Kooij -
Corry van Doorn - Lilly Cramer and her brother Roy Cramer - Tonny
Lindeman who had her fashionable dresses and deux-pièces made by
Frans Molenaar who at the time was trainee at Nina Ricci's - Mady
Mansvelt-Beck - Vera Boissevain - Ria Halk, secretary to ambassador
Dr. Henry Boon - Mia van Bennekom, secretary to Mr. Scheltema.
There was Irene Osorio from the Portuguese representation - Kei
Piccinini from Italy who suffered a tragic death - Philippa Heape
who was one of the typists of the secretary pool, like Brenda with
whom I visited a concert from time to time - Patrick Just who worked
in the bank on the ground floor, "le Crédit Lyonnais"
- and there were colleagues Pieter Bohl, Pieter Schaap, Hans Sieverding,
Paul van Hasselt, Harry Simons, etc.
there were the names of diplomats with their official Dutch titles
of Dr. and Mr. (Doctor in Law), and Drs. Their names became familiar
names - Ambassador Dr.
Hendrik Boon who, after he left the foreign service, published
10 studies about the diplomatic practice under the title "Afscheids
Audiëntie" - Mr. H. Scheltema, 1st ambassy-secretary - Mr.
G.W. van Barneveld Kooy - Mr. Cort van der Linden who also handled
the affairs of all personnel (he owned a Thorens TD-124 turntable,
a Leak amplifier and Leak Sandwich loudspeaker systems); Drs. W. van
Eekelen was his sucessor - Mr. Peter Van Walsum, son of the late mayor
of Rotterdam - Drs. De Grauw - Jonkheer Mr. Von Mühlen, yes he and
his wife were of nobility - Drs. Coen Stork - Drs. Thomas Kasteel
- Drs. F. van Dongen - Dr. C.A. van Der Klauw - Jhr. Mr. J.A. de Ranitz
- Mr. J.H.O. Insinger - chancellor Van Vliet and his deputy/assistent
Secretary General of NATO was Dr. Manlio Brosio at the time.
written by Rudolf A. Bruil. Page first published, March 24, 2008
Thanks to Art Simmons for the pictures of himself and his family today,
thanks to Art and also Steven Jambot from France for the picture of listening
to the playback
of a recording and the picture of the Mars Club.