Music historians trace the origins of jazz back to the late 19th and early 20th century in New Orleans. Since then jazz has become an internationally loved genre of music that influences and is influenced by many cultures The French influence on jazz is a profound one. During World War I, Jazz made it’s way from America to France thanks to African American soldiers.
I felt like I was following in the footsteps of those soldiers and artists with Paris as my first stop on my late summer vacation in Europe. Knowing this rich history of jazz, I had to spend some time in the jazz clubs in the city. One club that was on the top of just about everyone’s list was The Sunset Sunside Jazz Club. The Sunset Sunside is one of Paris’s many jazz clubs. The club was founded in 1983 and was one of the first clubs to open in the rue des Lombards area. Since then it has become one of the dominate jazz clubs in the city along with Le Baiser Salé and Le Duc des Lombards. As I made my way out of the Metro into the des Lombards area the sights and sounds set the mood for a night of music with narrow streets and many, many bars and restaurants.
On stage at the Sunside Sunset Jazz Club was Stéphane Belmondo. French native Stéphane Belmondo was born into a family of musicians and began his formal education at age 6 on the drums and percussion. Stéphane began training on his signature instrument, the trumpet, at age 10. His first solo album, Wonderland, won him two Victoires du Jazz awards in France, in 2005, for this interpretive collection of Stevie Wonder songs. Taking best artist and best instrumental jazz album awards sets Stéphane Belmondo into an elite class. With a double bass and guitar to back him up Stéphane Belmondo put on an amazing show at the Sunset Sunside Jazz Club. The acoustics in this basement club were phenomenal. Add in that the crowd was like one at a concert hall, attentive and focused on the music, and you have the ideal setting for a night of music. The listening room vibe allowed me to immerse myself into the music and absorb the sounds of the Stéphane Belmondo trio.
I’m always one for wandering into a new venue to hear a new artist with open ears. Often times, as you see here at Libro Musica, these musicians are often emerging artists just getting their careers started. On this night in Paris, for my introduction to the Paris music scene, I got to hear some industry veterans. Stéphane Belmondo has been a fixture in the Paris jazz scene since the 80’s and his skill on stage was apparent. The music was mostly straight ahead contemporary jazz but on a few of the the songs I could hear Afro-Caribbean elements. These familiar elements made me feel right at home and it wasn’t until the interludes with Stéphane speaking in French was I reminded that I was more than 4,000 miles away from home.
Take a listen to Stéphane’s most recent LP, Love for Chet, which is a tribute to one of his mentors, the late Chet Baker. This LP will give you a glimpse at some of Stéphane’s talent.
“Chet Baker was my friend and my hero. I was still a young musician and he invited me to play with him. We talked about music and life. He always gave me precious pieces of advice.” – Stéphane Belmondo
Stéphane Belmondo Love for Chet on Spotify
If you are in Paris and wondering where to hear jazz music, be sure to lookup the Sunset Sunrise Jazz club. You should also hunt for Stéphane Belmondo to see where he may be playing when you are in town. You won’t be disappointed.