Sunday, March 27, 2011

Open Studio - short film & jam session

We have met many people at Cite Des Arts from all over the world, but most people are only able to stay here for two months. Some of our friends are leaving at the end of March and we wanted to have some kind of party before their departure. Charlene's 40th birthday was on Friday, March 25, so we decided to have an Open Studio showing Charlene's short film 12 steps to success for Artists in Los Angeles as well as a jam session to "unofficially" celebrate Charlene's big 40.

The previous week I met Pasi Eerik√§inen, an amazing violinist from Finland who is classically trained, but also plays in a Gypsy Jazz & Tango trio in Finland. Unfortunately Pasi was leaving at the end of March but we decided to try to pull off something for the Open Studio. It came down to learning two tango songs (by Astor Piazzolla) as well as four Gypsy Jazz songs (by Django Reinhardt) in a period of 5 days, with our first and only rehearsal 30 minutes before the Open Studio. Considering the circumstances, it seemed to go extremely well. All I can say is thank god for Pasi coming and playing so well, he made me sound 1000 times better with his brilliant playing.

Here are some videos from that night's "jam session":

Libertango - Astor Piazzolla

Oblivion - Astor Piazzolla

Nuages - Django Reinhardt

Minor Swing - Django Reinhardt

I think the Open Studio overall was a great success with the film screening, the jam session and just an overall great party (at least 15 bottles of wine, a case of beer, food, etc). Hopefully in the future Pasi and I can play again, because he's an incredible musician and a great inspiration.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Flat Stanley

My friend's son, mailed out Flat Stanley to me from Austin, Texas. He arrived here on Monday. My job was to take Flat Stanely around Paris and document the journey and then send him back to the Austin, Texas. Here's his brief, but interesting adventure in Paris:

Flat Stanley in Paris

Flat Stanley arrived in Paris, France on March 21, 2011.

He was a little tired from the long trip from Texas, but he was happy to travel to Europe. He got to meet Jim, and see his guitar and amplifier.

Stanley also liked looking out the window at the old church across the street.

Because he was so tired, and it was late, Stanley went to bed early. The next day Flat Stanley traveled around Paris. He walked around the river Seine and saw the French flag.

He wanted a “I ♥ PARIS” t-shirt, but it was too big so he couldn't buy it.

He then traveled to a very famous church “Notre Dame”. In French it means, “Our Lady”. It was a very big church and very old.

Flat Stanley left Notre Dame, but needed to go to the bathroom, so used a public toilet. It was outside on the street and he needed to pay to use it, but he had to go really bad, so he didn't mind.

Finally Flat Stanley made it home to Jim's apartment and was very hungry. He eat an entire pizza. After that, he fell asleep.

The next morning, Stanley got inside his envelope and went back home to Austin, Texas.

Flat Stanley had a very good time and enjoyed his stay in Paris, France.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New toys!

My parents are here this week and brought my electric guitar from the USA to France. I went out today and purchased a Vox Mini3 battery powered guitar amplifier as well as a Zoom G2 guitar effects processor (sorry but they had no Line 6 gear at the music store here in Paris). I wasn't planning on making or posting a video, but after two Kronebourgh 7.2% alcohol beers and get a first take, improvisational, off center camera shot video of me playing electric guitar for the first time in 6 months, over a drum loop from the in the Zoom G2, played through the Vox Mini3 amp...ugly warts and all... here you go:

Monday, March 7, 2011

First jam session

Well after 5 weeks in Paris, I finally got to sit in and play at a jam session. What kind of jam session? Blues? Nope. Fusion? Nope. Jazz? Gypsy Jazz? Nope. How about jamming with two electronic musicians that use noise and sound as "music". Jonas Hummel from Germany uses radios and computers to control noises and sounds as a kind of electronic conductor. Ravi Vaid, from Switzerland uses samples, sequences and noises to create an electronic soundscape.

This was an open studio jam session here at Cite Des Arts where we, and 310 other artists live. I didn't have my electric guitar with me last night (I do have it today now that my parents have arrived visiting from the USA) so I sat in with my nylon string acoustic guitar. I'm not sure how to describe it, but we played for about 30 minutes and it was an interesting mix of radio electronics, sampled looped noise creating a kind of "drum loop", some outside crazy sci-fi sound effects and some atonal and sometimes tonal acoustic guitar.  Where does music end and noise start? I'm not sure, but it's an interesting subject to explore and experiment with.

Myself (acoustic gutiar) and Jonas Hummel (radios)

Ravi Vaid (electronics)

The best thing about going out to these open studios, is meeting other artists from all over the world. That night we met people from: Germany, Switzerland, Japan, South Africa, Argentina, Sweden, Tunisia, Russia, Belgium (and even some country in the South Pacific I had never even heard of before). I spent an hour talking to a young pianist from Russia who graduated from a top Russian music conservatory. Amazing, inspiring, humbling experiences to say the least.

In the next month or so, I want to start sitting in at the jam sessions at the clubs here in Paris. I'm working on about 30 songs now trying to get comfortable with them. The plan is to sit in, and play at each of these different jam sessions: Blues, Fusion, Soul, Funk, Jazz and Gypsy Jazz. I could literally go out every night for the next 5 months and have some kind of jam session to go sit in and play at, it's an unbelievable environment I need to stop typing and go practice!