Gonzo in Vienne

By Michael Stevenson

“Let me hear your balls, Vienne!”

On June 29, I was among the lucky 7000 concert-goers gathered in Theater Antiques to behold piano man Chilly Gonzales perform at the 2019 Vienne Jazz Festival. Jazz à Vienne has been celebrating the world of jazz since 1981. The festival has a variety of concerts and different stages – the grandest being the Roman theater, built in 1 AD.

As the show started, most of us sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the arena were fanning ourselves with our programs, as the temps rose over 110 degrees before the sun went down. Chilly, it was not. But the performer nicknamed “Gonzo” cooled the audience with his humor, original songs and an impressive array of piano styles – not strictly jazz, but also blues, classical and his own uniquely “Gonzo” flavorings.

Between songs, Gonzo joked with the audience in both french and english. His french dialect has a Montreal flavor (he was born there). And I detected a slight Brooklynese present in his English – especially when he commanded the audience of clap-a-longs to follow the beat by watching “my fucking foot!” The sweaty crowd in the ancient arena laughed and sang, and most of of us stayed on the beat of his bouncing bedroom slipper.

Gonzales, whose (birth name is Jason Charles Beck, has collaborated with artists Jarvis Cocker, Feist, Peaches, Drake and Daft Punk.

In 2018, Gonzales launched his own music school. According to his Wikipedia entry, “musicians from around the world joined him to study at The Gonzervatory, an 8-day all-expenses-paid residential music performance workshop in Paris. The workshop included coaching sessions with Gonzo, followed by masterclasses from Gonzales’ friends and collaborators.” Cool!

Vienne’s Roman Theatre was built in 40-50AD and seen as the largest in Roman Antiquity

I actually came to see Gozo in Vienne quite by accident. I had purchased tickets to see Camille perform in the “Up Above My Head” collaboration, which was actually the previous night in Vienne, but I had confused dates (as I often do when on a lengthy European vacation.) So while I was quite depressed about screwing-up and missing my favorite French chanteuse Camille, Gonzo pulled me out of my funk with his wonderful show. It’s always great to see someone completely new in concert and to become an immediate fan. C’est moi!

I’d also like to note how helpful the Vienne Tourist office was, as well as the Jazz à Vienne ticket manager, who granted my wife and I free replacement tickets to see the Chilly Gonzales show after I explained how we confused our dates. As has consistently been our experience, the French people were gracious and accommodating to we stumbling and fumbling travelers.

Merci beaucoup, Vienne and Gonzo.

Michel Legrand – Legrand Jazz

Complete with the dust and scratches, this is a beautiful LP recording from Michel Legrand.

1. The Jitterbug Waltz 0:00
2. Nuages 5:20
3. Night In Tunisia 7:45
4. Blue And Sentimental 14:32
5. Stompin’ At The Savoy 17:55
6. Django 21:30

1. Wild Man Blues 0:00
2. Rosetta 3:25
4. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore 10:43
5. In A Mist 13:20

Julian Lage: “Jazz is a story of people: their heart, their state of mind and their soul”

At 30, he is one of the best jazz guitarists of today, but he defines himself more like a blues guitarist, shared music with his father when he started making music at only 5 years old. Portrait of Julian Lage at Jazz in Marciac 2018.

When he’s on stage with his trio, composed of bassist Jorge Roeder and percussionist Eric Doob , the deal is perfect. The musicians breathe together, their eyes in the eye, the instruments touch almost in a bewitching dialogue. That’s it, jazz, and beyond the genre, that’s the music for this virtuoso and creative musician: sharing in the moment. And Julian Lage rubbed shoulders with many others, big names in the jazz scene, during his meteoric rise. At only 30 years old, the musician counts 25 years of music, first of all in family, then very quickly with giants like Carlos Santana (at eight years old), Pat Metheny , Kenny Werner , Toots ThielemansMartin Taylor or David Grisman . But who is this Californian smiling and youthful, who teaches and composes, and who is one with his guitar? Backstage meeting on the occasion of his concert at the Jazz in Marciac 2018 festival.

France Musique: How did you come to jazz?

Julian Lage: I went into the music blues, and then, naturally I went to jazz, because it was in the order of things. We start with a style and very quickly the curiosity takes us elsewhere, and in my case, it was jazz.

You started playing the guitar very young, at 5 years old. You often say that your father had a very important role at the beginning?

My family, and especially my father, were decisive in my choices. At the time, my father started playing guitar because he wanted to play the blues. To spend time with him, I got started too. My father was taking a lesson with a teacher and then he was teaching it to me. For me, it was an excuse to be with him. [ . . . ]

Continue at Francemusique: Julian Lage: “Jazz is a story of people: their heart, their state of mind and their soul”

French electronic duo Her find immortality in their music

“We choose the way we’ll be remembered.” The first song Simon Carpentier and Victor Solf wrote as French electronic duo Her opens their self-titled debut album with those words. Both of them were afraid of the future at the time and needed to make a song about how they should be the ones to decide how they are remembered. No one else could decide.

“We Choose” was released after Carpentier’s death from cancer, aged 27, in August 2017. He and Solf had met over a decade ago at their school in the medieval town of Rennes, north France, forming Her in 2015 after their first band, electro-pop band The Popopopops, split two years earlier.

Knowing their time was limited, they mapped out how they wanted their debut album to sound, and how the entire project would be presented to the world. You’d be hard-pushed to find a record or another band to compare it to, and it’s not what you might expect from a French electronic act.

“Making this album was a very intense part of our life,” Solf says. He’s sat, in an orange roll-neck sweater and black trousers – handsome in a particularly French way, with a strong jaw and dark, close-cropped hair – at a venue in Paris where the first part of a documentary about Her will be shown, along with a live performance by him and his band members.


“It was really important for us to be able to produce our songs, to be really focused on the whole project,” he continues. “But it was also important to trust people and bring them in; we’d been working with our sound engineer for five years, even before Her, and he really helped us a lot on the production and the mixing.

“Sometimes you can’t see anymore what’s wrong with a song, so someone a little bit outside can help. It was the same with the musicians, Simon could play the guitar and the bass and I could play the keyboard and some drums, so we could have recorded it ourselves if we’d really wanted, but it’s not how we think about music. We started to work with three other musicians – without computers – in the studio, and it was really nice to have different opinions.” Continue reading “French electronic duo Her find immortality in their music”