Sonny Does Bebop

photo, jazzman sonny simmons at the zango In the Café Zango with Sonny Simmons.

Finger–Popping Good

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 6. November:–  Instead of being wet, instead of being cold, overcast, miserable, and instead of being freezing and miserable, the weather is being like nice. Believe me, it's news. Please turn to page 6, buried elsewhere on this Webpage.

Page 6 Weather

Those folks trying to acquire sunburns on the Riviera may be still down there, but most of the French got over the joys of Toussaint and came back to work and school today. Well, almost all. A big gang of tobacconists demonstrated around the country against the coming ban on smoking in tabacs. Imagine, you go into a shop and buy a pack of butts and then you have to get a waiter to carry your wine outside to where you can light up. What will the deal be for chewing tobacco? Leave the country to spit?

Meanwhile on the weather front, it was a pleasure to see the future on tonight's TV–news. We've been having a bit of fog in the mornings – according to travellers arriving in the city from Roissy. Paris is in the country's southern zone so there is no fog here and we know where we are, but just up north where the airport is, well, it's like in northern Europe. After 1. November it is winter up there.

photo, sign, des fleurs

As I was saying, the future is with us. Take Tuesday for example. There will be no fog here because it's not allowed. The Channel will be cloudy, maybe foggy, but who ever goes there? The afternoon will be brilliant here, except for a small smidgen of gloom over France way up north, and the Channel area. But right down to the Mediterranean, gangbusters! – with a true blue sky no less. With this marvel a temperature hike to 14 degrees. Yippee!

On Wednesday almost the same thing was forecast, but with a slightly fuzzy sky. It'll be sunny and blue, but fuzzy. Again the temperature will be a very fine 14 degrees.

For weather fans Thursday will be special. The centre third of the country from west to east will have the semi–sunny fuzzies again and another temperature high of 14 degrees. The special aspect will be the totally cloudy top and bottom thirds of France, including the Riviera, the Pyrenees, and all those whatnots. Today's Le Parisien thinks Friday will be soft again but what do they know?

As usual Météo Jim issues a prediction for the past week in New York, and goes out on a limb concerning rain next Tuesday. In words of his very own choice –

Halloween, Harrys et Hermiones

The past week was the first week of Eastern Standard Time. Somehow, the shadows seemed longer and yet the sun was more prominent as it peered through freshly denuded trees. All of this was a prelude to Halloween.

Metropole's readers had the chance to gaze into last week's edition to get an accurate forecast of Halloween's weather. As correctly foreseen, temperatures on that day were in the upper 60s to low 70s a–grad. The winds were calm which made for perfect broom flying conditions for all les petits Harrys et les petites Hermiones. In addition, the mild weather allowed les petits monstres et revenants to show off their costumes without the encumbrance of a coat or jacket. The night sky was covered by a thin layer of clouds which allowed the moon to shine through, bathing the land in a hazy film of half remembered and half seen memories.

But the weather began to slide on Wednesday and by Thursday, rain washed away the last of the Halloween world. By Friday, temperatures were in the low 50s a–grad and the weekend saw the thermometer rise no higher than the mid 40s, all a–grad. The week ahead will have showers on Tuesday and temperatures warming to the upper 50s – low 60s for the rest of the week.

As usual, this is all true unless something happens to make it untrue and valid until voided. Should this happen, turn to page 9 of the latest edition of Metropole for instructions, just above.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

photo, cafe zango, rue daguerre, montparnasse The café Zango in Montparnasse.

Thursday, 2. November:– My uncle Den–Den claimed that he'd been feeding some musicians that he booked into the Hotel Savoy, a hotel on a street so small and insignificant that there's no room for a doorman to park a Roller. It's just as well because there is no doorman, no stars, and all rooms have zero view but are only 45€ a night with the cable TV.

The hotel has its charms. One is the sound of jazz legend Sonny Simmons practising on his horns, either an alto saxophone or an English Horn. So you don't have to, I looked it up. An English horn is a double–reed woodwind instrument in the oboe family. To me it looked like a jumbo clarinet.

Nigel is in town, on his annual strange visit from Washington. He went into the Savoy too and they gave him a shower. So he listened to Sonny through the walls before he moved out to Line's apartment for a couple of days. Checking out of the Savoy is as informal as checking in, especially as there is no doorman to tip. Just go in and ask for Farid, say I sent you, and tell them I'm a friend of the guy whose girlfriend who went to Switzerland last time.

Then on Wednesday Uncle Den–Den called and asked me to print out a glowing account of Sonny's band, the Cosmosamatics – they played at the Alchemia in Krakow, on October 3rd. Den–Den bought a new printer to do this but it ate his portable and he said he was throwing it out the window, right where he threw the other two portables. There are some people who shouldn't own PCs.

My printer isn't hooked up to my portable. It is hooked up to an old desktop box I'm keeping as a paperweight. But it works so the uncle got his copy. I guess then he got it photocopied, and handed it out to everybody on Daguerre. Somehow Sonny got booked to play at the Zango, which is a sleazy drinking hole pretending to be a juice bar. Outside it looks harmless. Inside it is kind of grotty, kind of what we really like.

The gig was on Thursday, kicking off at 22:00. I went down there and just got in the door. All the Daguerreotypes were standing around the bandstand, which was a miniscule area on the floor near the door in a corner, filled with a guitarist, a bassist and Sonny, with his two horns. It looked like a fight scene, all these dudes standing around, cutting off the view of the poor civilians sitting down like decent citizens.

photo, sonny simmons at the zangoSonny at the Zango.

The bar, all of two metres away, was hung with the rest of the Daguerreotypes. It's pretty rare to see them all in one place at the same time, fortunately. I never knew they were jazz fans. But for all I know they used to go to the Bélière in the old days when it was a dump with a burnt piano and a busy toilet. These days, the days of the new, better, trendy, slick, curtained, sofaed, candlesticked, Bélière, I bet they all went there for the premiere night of free booze last week, and that was the end of that.

I introduced myself to Sonny as uncle Den–Den's nephew and the friend of the guy whose girlfriend went to Switzerland and asked if he minded if I pointed the camera at him. "How much you paying?" he wanted to know. I told him I already put money in the hat that uncle Den–Den was passing around. It's true, I swear! He eyed me over a hoisted Pelforth and nodded okay.

Jeez the place was dark, just little peeplights. The streetlights outside were brighter. But I had the right lens for the job, an ultra–wide 22 mm. Through the viewfinder I saw nothing. Shoot. It's free. No film anymore. Only one shot had to be good enough. This isn't the Natural eographic. It's freaking Daguerre ina Zango, of a guy plays what the hell? English horn? So he played with Eric Dolphy, so he wishes John Coltrane was still around, so he's been up and down, disappeared, and now tours northern EuropeCosmosamatics! – almost continuously, stays at the Savoy. You think they would stand for all that English horn stuff at the Ritz at 02:00?



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