All That Parisian Jazz, at the Museum and BeyondBy Elaine Sciolino
Paris | The three-year-old Musée du Quai Branly is dedicated to the display of the indigenous art of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania, and it has defined that mission broadly — very broadly.
On March 17 the museum opened an exhibition on an art form widely considered to be indigenous to America: jazz. Called “The Jazz Century,” it is a chronological tour through the world of jazz and how it has affected painting, photography, film, literature, even album covers, sheet music and comic books, from the early 20th century to the present.
The highlights of the show, which runs until June 28, include pages from Henri Matisse’s folio “Jazz” and Jackson Pollock’s 1947 painting “Watery Paths.” Works by Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Thomas Hart Benton, Stuart Davis, Keith Haring, Jeff Wall and others are on display.
There is happy black-and-white film footage of Fred Astaire tap-dancing in “Swing Time.” There is also the dark side: a clip of Louis Malle’s 1958 film “Ascenseur Pour l’ Échafaud” (“Elevator to the Scaffold”) with its chilling soundtrack composed by Miles Davis. And with their racial stereotypes and caricatures, some of the early illustrations and cartoons on display are considered racist today, but Daniel Soutif, the philosopher and art critic who served as the show’s curator, felt it would be misleading to exclude them.
Mr. Soutif calls the exhibition an ideal starting point for discovering jazz in Paris; indeed, the museum is hosting a series of concerts, concerts and films tied to the exhibit (37, quai Branly; 33-1-56-61-70-00; www.quaibranly.fr).
For live performances, Mr. Soutif said he would send jazz lovers to one of Paris’ more durable spots: Le Duc des Lombards in the First Arrondissement (42, rue des Lombards; 33-1-42-33-22-88; www.ducdeslombards.com). Its doors open at 7 p.m.; it also serves respectable food for dinner.
To “promote, celebrate and democratize” all jazz forms, Le Duc des Lombards has formed an association with two nearby clubs, Le Sunset/Le Sunside at No. 60 (33-1-40-26-46-60 and 33-1-40-26-21-25; www.sunset-sunside.com) and Le Baiser Salé at No. 58 (33-1-42-33-37-71; www.lebaisersale.com) They organize special “soirées de jazz” in which admission to all three clubs costs 20 euros, about $28 at $1.39 to the euro.
Sunset, a basement venue focusing on electric jazz, has surprisingly good sound, despite its white-tiled walls; Sunside on the ground floor, which is largely devoted to acoustic jazz, feels cozier. Upstairs from the bar and terrace at Le Baiser Salé is a comfortable space that features varied musical styles, from afro jazz to fusion.
Mr. Soutif also likes New Morning (7-9, rue des Petites Écuries; 33-1-45-23-51-41; www.newmorning.com) a jazz and world-music club that was Chet Baker’s favorite Paris jazz venue, and the last place he played before he died.
The big and beautifully restored Salle Pleyel concert hall at 252, rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré (33-1-42-56-13-13; www.sallepleyel.fr), has perhaps the best acoustics in town. This is where the pianist Keith Jarrett plays when he comes to town.
Fans interested in jazz-themed French film posters should head to the Galerie Ciné-Images at 68, rue de Babylone in the Seventh Arrondissement (33-1-47-05-60-25; www.cine-images.com). Collectors of jazz LPs like to congregate at Paris Jazz Corner (5-7, rue de Navarre; 33-1-43-36-78-92; parisjazzcorner.com). Mr. Soutif calls it “the best vinyl shop in the world.”
For free and easy jazz listening anywhere around town, tune into TSF Jazz (89.9 FM), Paris’s supreme jazz radio station.
Then there is the serendipity of Paris jazz: You might be walking across the Pont d’Arcole between the Hôtel de Ville and Notre-Dame late one night. If you’re lucky, an itinerant duo — a trumpet player and a saxophonist — will be playing there for you.Jeanette Coombs contributed reporting.