Click here to follow this page


“If you want to scare yourself, imagine for two seconds that the New Morning no longer exists” (Michel Contat – TELERAMA) The life of a Jazz club is not a long, quiet river: it is sometimes a torrent, sometimes an obstacle course towards tomorrows which do not always sing. Those who embark on it must have – in addition to a sense of direction and a firm footing – a taste for risk, a hell of a vocation, and a good dose of unconsciousness. Because, they will realize too late, the torrent never becomes a lake, a quiet river or a river. If he calms down, everything is going to hell. And without constant vigilance, it’s a disaster. But isn’t the risk worth taking? For music? For the special moments and the joys it brings? Music that “draws our senses and sounds into a furious embrace” according to the Egyptian surrealist writer Georges Henein. Intense moments of pleasure, exaltation and joy. Unique moments that will not be repeated, because, here, everything is “in the dazzling brilliance of the moment”, as another jazz lover, Jean-Paul Sartre, wrote. This is why jazz can only be conceived alive, preferably in clubs, where it is best expressed, in direct contact between orchestra and audience. The place does not look like much, lost in the rue des Petites-Écuries, narrow and without grace, a stone’s throw from the Folies Bergères and the grand boulevards, but also from the Porte Saint-Denis, camouflaged by barely visible metal doors (fortunately marked out, recently, by an illuminated sign) opening onto a room which is said to be without comfort, without decoration, “unfinished”, with the air of a studio, a club, a hangar, an attic, a garage “but also an open dream”: an “enclave of freedom”. This is the essential part of New Morning: its elegance cannot be seen, it can be experienced. They are spaces distributed in the manner of ancient theaters, around the stage, encouraging musician-audience exchanges. They are stripped down, absence of anything that could distract from the central point: the stage. They are above all the priority given to the best, to the excellence of music, whatever the price (and too bad for comfort). Right to listen without being disturbed. No drum roll here, at the arrival of a personality who will never be bothered. Respect for anonymity. Right to be alone in front of the music. Personalities came to New Morning from all ages and from all walks of life: jazz aficionados are recruited from everywhere. It is by chance that we will recognize in a corner, calmly seated on a Spartan chair, the Nobel literature winner Miguel Angel Asturias,attentively listening to the Eddie Palmierie concert; no one will venture to disturb him. It was only when Jorge Semprun’s “Netchaiev is Back” appeared, several scenes of which took place at New Morning, that we would identify in the photo on the back cover the elegant regular with white hair that we saw standing near the bar, lost in the crowd listening to Archie Shepp. We will rub our eyes when we see, carried away by the rhythm, emerge from the ranks of the audience a tap dancer who will twirl with grace on stage: the great actor Jean-Pierre Cassel. And it is not without emotion that, through a text in the New Morning, we know that Georges Perec was seen there “with his funny incognito face” shortly before his death. So others came, so many others about whom we knew nothing. That’s what New Morning is: walls full of sounds and memories. It’s also a story. A long story that began towards the end of the 1970s on the banks of the Rhône, in Geneva, in an abandoned factory, thanks to two young people, Daniel and Alain Fahri. They had converted the factory into a loft, in the style of New York clubs and very quickly launched into a breathtaking program which will surprise and delight the Genevans. A success which led the Swiss Ministry of the Interior to reject a petition from the neighborhood for noise. The noise will be without echo in this high place which has become “as famous as the jet of water on the lake”: an opportunity that the Parisian New Morning will not experience, despite its efforts and its good will. But let’s move on… Geneva never ceases to amaze! It had become one of the cardinal points of jazz and even one of its great world temples, as a Swiss chronicler writes. The highlight of this time will be the organization of a giant blues festival organized under a big top in the suburb of Meyrin. We will hear the original blues sung in a voice from the depths of the ages by Élisabeth Cotten, eighty-six-year-old grandmother, freed slave, author of a classic from the beginning of the century, Freight Trains, refrain repeated successively in during the Festival by the stars present then in chorus in a prodigious jam session. What will remain is an extremely rare, out-of-print record, bringing together Albert Collins and his Ice Brakers, the Cajun accordionist Queen Ida, queen of Zydeco, Richie Havens “the bard of Woodstock”, Taj Mahal with his guitar and his planter’s hat, the percussionist Mongo Santamaria. And the only white, whiter than white, the albino guitarist Johnny Winter. This stroke of brilliance will not be the only one; everything that matters in jazz will be on the New Morning in Geneva. And when he sets his scene in Paris under other auspices, it is quite natural that Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Art Blakey, Mc Coy Tyner, Dexter Gordon,Dizzie Gillespie and the others have come and gone while in Geneva, in 1988, the Geneva club changed its flag. It was in 1981, on April 16 to be exact, that the New Morning of Paris raised the great bulwark, eleven days late. Cause: a few centimeters more or less, for safety reasons, at doors and on stairs. Richie Havens, the “Bard of Woodstock,” was scheduled to open. He won’t do it. He will have to wait eleven days to finally perform on rue des Petite-Écuries. Woodstock, in the meantime, has taken on wrinkles and no longer arouses much nostalgia. It was Art Blakey who finally opened the New de Paris, with his Jazz Messengers which also included the Marsalis brothers. Brandford Marsalis will not forget it. Ten years later, coming to New Morning as a visitor and learning that a tenth anniversary festival would bring together musicians from the “family”, all those – or almost all – who had played there during the decade, he exclaimed: ” But here I am! I was there in 1981. I want to play for the festival.” And he will play. In the spring of 1981, jazz was reborn after a long eclipse in France. The press devoted only a few rare articles to him once a year at the festivals in Nice, Antibes, or Paris. In the capital, throughout the year, Le Petit Opportun, La Chapelle Des Lombards, Le Dreher, followed by Jazz Unité tried hard – to resurrect the great times of the Rose Rouge, of the Caveau de St-Germain- Des-Près by Boris Vian, Boeuf sur le Toit, and Blue Note. Rock had supplanted jazz among the general public and free jazz did not attract crowds. Rooms too large for a still dispersed audience? Clubs too small for big stars? The New Morning, a spacious five-hundred-seat loft, a hybrid of half concert hall, half club, will be greeted with enthusiasm. He filled a gap, embodied the chance for renewal. Twelve years later, Paris has become the world capital of jazz. Shock or ripple effect, it’s a bit thanks to New Morning, why not say it? Rooms and clubs are inaugurated every day: today there are thirty in the capital, perhaps sixty including the suburbs. According to musicians and the press, the New Morning is still in the lead. Firstly, in terms of seniority, as for good vintages: three thousand concerts, around ten thousand musicians among the greatest. And as a scout, – for twelve years – of new trends and tracks which lead to the year 2000. A cult place. For a long time, guitarist Pat Metheny dreamed of playing there. After a packed zenith of which he was the star, he will finally perform there, in a duo with Charlie Haden, and will compose a ballad for the New Morning for the occasion. It won’t be the only one:the rite has been perpetuated in each of its passages, and we are already on the fourth ballad. Prince, who came one Sunday in August to play with his jazzman father, arrived the following year at New Morning after a triumphant Bercy, in the middle of the night, for a fabulous concert and a predicted pleasure. His fans waited for him in the pouring rain until two in the morning, the time to install his enormous equipment on stage. He would do it again the following year in 1987. Since then, every time their little Prince is Paris, they show up at the New. Hope not disappointed since 23 years later, on the night of July 22, 2010, Prince returned to play and sing until the end of the night for a four-hour concert, certainly the longest of his life, and closing with a final “Purple Rain” whose lyrics he replaced with “New Morning” leaving an audience knocked out at the new morning. Another anecdote from the very rich hours of New Morning: Terence Blanchard, successor to Winton Marsalis with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, great trumpeter and “living encyclopedia of jazz” according to Blakey, has just written, indignant, that he was programmed elsewhere than at New Morning by his agent: “I want to come back to you, he proclaims, I was there in 1981!”. This obviously gives him rights. As with Gil Scott Heron: “You welcomed me ten years ago when I was nothing,” he said, “I want to play with you again now that I’m someone.” He remained faithful until the end, imposing the New for its big comeback in 2010, after seven years of absence. And this again: a taxi driver asserts categorically to his passenger that he is driving to the New Morning: “All the biggest stars have played there”. “Not all, not Miles Davis,” protests this informed person since she is from the house. “Yes, yes,” replied the driver, “I saw him there!” Miles has never played at New Morning but will still leave his sonic imprints there since he will shoot part of his film there. For the international Herald Tribune, “the New Morning is one of the rare jazz clubs in the world where musicians – who generally avoid clubs – want to play”. “Anyone who is a jazz, Town and Country, blues or folk person who can still get on stage has played at the New Morning. Most nights there are so many people you can’t see beyond the person standing on your toes.” Ideal vision of things. There are concerts that are more confidential and yet of quality. If jazzmen prefer the consecration of concert halls, it is because it took them a long time to be recognized. But the club remains the original framework, the matrix of the genre,the place of confrontation with a very present audience and with themselves. The New Morning attempts to reconcile both. “Jazz,” writes the Star Flash magazine, “is traditionally a living music. It must be a permanent contact, a dialogue. At New Morning, the musicians literally have before their eyes the reactions of a nearby audience. Hear singing Betty Carter from three meters away is a real joy.” It is to such joys that we owe the great moments of jazz. Unique moments from the famous evening when Dizzie Gillespie gave two concerts in a row at the New. Arturo Sandoval, before going to play elsewhere, arrives there for an unexpected duet jam with Dizzy. Later the same evening, Terence Blanchard and Joachim Kühn, who came as visitors, launched into a wild swing in honor of Dizzy, receiving a standing ovation. Another great moment of jazz, inscribed in memories and in legend: the sovereign concert given in 1987 by Georges Russell and his magnificent orchestra: perfection. Pivotal detail: five years earlier, through a programming error, the same Georges Russell and his orchestra had played the second part of a salsa concert by Machito and his big orchestra in front of a stunned audience who had come to dance. There was no ovation. These are the surprises of the programs. To list all the musicians who have played at New Morning over the past 30 years would be tedious and lacking in modesty. Let’s say that there are few who found the New Morning too small for them. Many are gone who rest in the jazz pantheon. It was a dazzling generation: Stan Getz, “the sound”, the sound, which we will hear more live. Dexter Gordon, witness to the early years of the New, the first to attract crowds there since a famous concert with Johnny Griffin; Woody Shaw, crushed by the subway after having been crushed by life, who summarily replaced at short notice a Freddy Hubbard busy receiving a Grammy Award elsewhere. And the sacred monsters of the drums: Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey, friends from the early days and always. And the young people, too soon, too quickly gone too: Jaco Pastorius, Chris MacGregor, and more recently Ed Blackwell as well as Georges Adams. Not to mention the old boss, Dizzy Gillespie, the youngest at heart, whose mischievous good humor did not protect him from death as one would have thought. And Chet Baker, finally, who we thought was also indestructible… After a stage 2 coma according to the doctor, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, he was on stage at 10 o’clock in the evening, before finally surrendering and request that the tickets be refunded. The audience had all the patience with him and always came back, despite the hazards, to hear the inimitable voice singing “My Funny Valentine” once again. Mrs. Eglal Farhi,director of New Morning

ConnectsMusic Industry Support, Gigs, Features:
by creators for creators and their audience - music community at its core