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Friday, August 27, 2010
Jazz, Very Much Alive, in Paris - NYTimes.com
No one embraces jazz like the French. They first fell under its spell in the 1920s, when American artists like Josephine Baker and Sidney Bechet found refuge in their country, disillusioned by the racial situation in the United States. Still among jazz’s biggest supporters, the French hold terrific festivals, like Jazz à la Villette, which runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 12 in beautiful Parc de la Villette and other venues around Paris.
The festival, which actually ranges beyond jazz to include hip-hop, soul and Afro-beat, pairs seemingly dissimilar artists to give audiences rare and unusual musical experiences. “We try to show the links between jazz and the other kinds of music,” said Vincent Anglade, the festival director. “We want to abolish the frontiers and avoid the labels. We look for a good balance between European and U.S. artists, between young talent and great legends and between straight-ahead jazz and crossover.”
Opening night, for instance, brings together the avant-garde guitarist Marc Ribot and the rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegecello; the Afro-beat drummer Tony Allen, the Finnish saxophonist Jimi Tenor and the African trio Kabu Kabu collaborate on Sept. 1. Calling themselves the Now He Sings Now He Sobs Trio, the jazz superstars Chick Corea and Roy Haynes join Miroslav Vitous, a bassist formerly of the band Weather Report, in a performance on Sept. 2. And, in one of the most anticipated concerts, on Sept. 7, the renowned Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes joins the saxophonist Archie Shepp in the Afro-Cuban Project.
“It’s great to be asked who you want to play with,” Mr. Shepp said. “I don’t know another festival that does that. And then, to get the musician of your choice — in my case, wonderful Chucho, that’s incredible. I started out with a Puerto Rican ensemble and I’ve always had a fondness for Latin music, it’s so close to the feeling of dance. I’m very excited about getting back into it with him. Especially in La Villette. The audience is so responsive.”
For more information, call 33-1-44-84-44-84; for tickets, visit www.ticketnet.fr; prices range from 10 to 35 euros, about $12.50 to $43.50