Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ten Days of Jazz at La Villette

La Grande Halle at Parc de la Villette
© Discover Paris!

“Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny!”

This quotation appears on the welcome page for the Cité de la Musique welcome page that advertises this year’s Jazz à la Villette festival. For the 15th time, La Villette is holding an extravaganza that showcases new talent next to tried-and-true music legends.

Don’t let the name of the festival fool you though – jazz is not the only type of music that you will be able to hear during the ten-day festival. Hip-hop, soul, and improv are also on the agenda this year. In fact, the festival opens on 31 August with a night of improvisation by bassist Meshell Ndegeocello and guitarist Mark Ribot.

Berlin-born Ndegeocello is utterly inimitable, with hip-hop, R&B, punk, and rock music influencing all of her recordings. She has played with the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Chaka Khan, Billy Preston, and The Blind Boys of Alabama.  Her Web site bio indicates that she was "the first woman to be featured on the cover of Bass Player magazine and remains one of few women who lead the band and write the music."

Meshell Ndegeocello performing in Leuven, Belgium – 2007
Photo by Yancho Sabev

Mark Ribot was mentored by Haitian classical guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus during his teen years. He has embraced numerous musical genres during his career, including free jazz and Cuban rhythms, and preserved many of the works of his mentor on a CD recorded in 1993. He has played alongside artists such as Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Wilson Pickett, and John Zorn. 

Mark Ribot
Photo by Webb Traverse

The duo appeared together for the first time at the Rose Restaurant in Brooklyn, NY on August 19th.

Several big names will grace the stage at La Villette’s Grande Salle during the festival, including Fred Wesley, Archie Shepp, Gil Scott Heron, and Chick Corea. Shepp will team up with Chucho Valdés for the Afro-Cuban Project, and Corea will perform with Roy Haynes and Miroslav Vitous as the “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” trio.

For a look at photos of all the performers scheduled to appear, click here
For the complete program, click here.
Jazz à la Villette also offers a weekend program to introduce kids to jazz through film at the MK2 cinema and the Cité de la Musique at La Villette, as well as at Le Dynamo, a dedicated concert hall for jazz operated by the Banlieues Blues association in the suburb of Pantin. Films to be shown include The Aristocats, Bugsy Malone, and Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.
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