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Bad Sax, Great Sax, Blowing My Own Horn


The Nice Jazz Festival saw me several times over the course of the week, being so easy to enter anytime with a press pass. One has to get accreditation in advance to have such a privilege, and thanks to years of working closely with the Office de Tourisme in Nice, it comes without too much “begging.”

You may remember that in 2016, due to the terrorist attack along the Promenade des Anglais on July 14th, that the Jazz Festival scheduled to open on July 16th was cancelled. The city and all of those involved really felt the loss. One of the reasons I head to Nice just after Bastille Day is to time my arrival with the festival.


Wednesday evening I decided to go in for a sneak peak of the 10:30 p.m. performance by Joshua Redman as a Special Guest with the Billy Hart Quartet. I entered at the “porte” opposite rue de Paradis, a back way in, next to the press and staff entrance. Just after entering, I took a wrong turn and ended up among the staff where they eat and relax, then in trying to find the arena and stage found myself in the corridors behind the stage where the musicians were already playing. No one stopped me, but with the big tag around my neck, “Press,” no one would have thought anything of my being there. Still I felt like an intruder, and all I really wanted to do was land at a seat where I could “enjoy” the music.

That’s the funny part. “Enjoy” is  not what I’d call that particular experience. This group was playing SUCH progressive jazz, that it was more AGGressive than PROgressive. Was that really the saxophone I heard? Not so sure. It’s what my friend called “bad sax.” I couldn’t tolerate it for more than five minutes, deemed it not music at all and left the same way I came in. Fortunately, home is a two-minute walk from the festival grounds.


By contrast, Rhoda Scott (on organ) and the Lady Quartet brought down the house and kept me smiling Friday night. Saxophonists Sophie Alour (tenor) and Lisa Cat-Berro (alto) played what I’d call “great sax.” Drummer Julie Saury beat the hell out of her drums for about 10 minutes straight, maybe even more, vibrating the arena with her rhythmic beat. Rhoda is from New Jersey, but the band members are French, the group having been formed in 2007 at Paris’ Sunset Jazz Club. You go girls!

The Nice Jazz Festival had an attendance of more than 40,100 spectators (more than last year by about 2,000) – a tribute to the 70th anniversary. Gregory Porter, the “sponsor” of the event, drew a crowd of 9,000. In coordination with the festival, the Musée Masséna has a special exhibition on: “Jazzin’ Nice. 70 years of love of jazz” crossing the strong link between Nice and jazz which started as long ago as 1917, in the palaces, cabarets and clubs, where American musicians integrated, thanks to their music and the Niçoise cultural life.

The festival was not without a few blips. Henry Butler died two weeks before his scheduled performance (I hated that!) and the Rag’N’Bone Man concert was cancelled due to health reasons. But, it survived and is stronger than every before. It was the first jazz festival in the world, am sure it won’t be the last, but it can always claim that, if nothing else, besides a great line-up of music.


You may recall that a few weeks ago, I made a presentation to a committee for the “Audition de la Mission Sport et Tourisme” on their “Mission de la Promotion du Tourisme” on how to make Americans feel welcome during the 2024 Olympics. (Read all about it here) One of the members of that committee, Director of the Welcome City Lab, Laurent Queige (left in the group photo), attended a meeting last Thursday at the Hôtel de Matignon where he and the others on the committee presented a report directly to the Prime Minister of France, Edouard Philippe (third from the right), on “How to maximize the tourism benefits of the Paris Olympics in 2024.” Laurent told me included my name and a quote from my presentation made at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs! Now, I just wonder what quote that was!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group

(in Nice with BB and Dozer)

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P.S. Next week, I’m on vacation in Corsica and that means no Parler Paris, no Parler Nice and no French Property Insider for just one week (July 30 to August 2), while I lay like a lizard on the sand. Meanwhile, Henri-le-Cactus welcomes my friends and guests at Le Matisse. To learn more about how you can arrange your stay chez moi, email me for a link to a special page all about it, or email us for more information for more information.


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