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All That Jazz - Les Ducs Des Lombards

GUARANTEED PERSONALITY blogger Melissa Unger writing for I V Y paris


Modern Jazz has always been like a braised pig knuckle sandwich to me. People tell me it's great, but I just don't get it. Apart from the classic masters like Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Chet Baker, who I mostly listen to, relaxing in a bubble bath while drinking cold Vouvray. The rest of it kinda goes over my head. I typically favor musicians who yell, bang their heads, and sweat their rock n' roll ambrosia all over me.

But I'm an open minded gal.

There are lots of famous jazz clubs in Paris. 'Haunts' filled with history. Nearly four years into my Gallic adventure, it seemed high time to finally check one out.

On a whim, I picked Le Duc Des Lombards, because it's near my house and on the night I chose to go, Daniel Humair, a rather legendary jazz drummer (I know, because I read it on Wikipedia), was playing. None of my friends are Free Jazz aficionados, but luckily I was able to rope my buddy J (a drummer, well, he's a lawyer who drums) into the adventure by using Humair as bait.

Le Duc has recently been renovated and while it wasn't the crumbling, old-school jazz hole I had imagined, the first note transported me instantly into a world of black turtlenecks, and snapping fingers. There's just something about free form jazz that plunges you into another era...beatniks, beards, pipes and tom toms. It's awesome.

That being said, I still don't completely get it. I am a mouth-the-lyrics-whip-out-the-bic-lighter-for-the-power-ballad kind of girl, so this sort of thing is a bit beyond my musical ear. But even if you don't fully grasp it, watching these guys play is astounding. Holy Miles Davis! Do they ever master their instruments. And man, are they into it! They make more exstatic grimaces than Rocco Siffredi in a Triple X. Another surprising twist... While Mr. Humair, though charming, is in his late 60's, the rest of the band were all boys under 35, and dare I say it...hipsters. The accordion player (yes, a jazz accordion, who knew?) was barefoot, scraggly, pierced-eared and frankly...hot.

It was a terrific and honestly inspiring evening, which I can only compare to contemporary performance art. You don't always completely understand it but you respect the effort and in some rare cases, like this one, get a glimpse of true grace.

Grab your skinny black jeans, practice your finger snaps, and go!

Les Duc Des Lombards
42 rue des Lombards 75001 Paris / Métro Châtelet

Other notable jazz clubs
Le Sunset
Le Caveau de La Huchette
Le New Morning
Le Baiser Salè

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