Bastille Day French Jazz New York

Bastille Day at Joe’s Pub

Avalon Jazz Band Joe's PubFor the National French Day, known as Le Quatorze Juillet in French and as “Bastille Day” in America, we had the great honor of presenting our new musical project “Do You Zazou?” for the first time, and in no other place but the renowned Joe’s Pub. This project is a tribute concert to the Zazous, the swing kids of wartime Paris who adopted swing as their lifestyle in a cry for freedom and expression of nonconformity. The repertoire consisted of exclusively French songs inspired by the Zazou spirit, including works by Charles Trenet, Joseph Kosma, Django Reinhardt, Pierre Dudan and Boris Vian, to mention just a few. These compositions convey the energy and aura of the great interpreters who first sang them, such as Juliette Gréco, Yves Montand, Magali Noel, Henri Salvador and Jean Sablon.

Avalon Jazz Band had a special guest from Finland, guitarist Olli Soikkeli, who complemented the manouche sound of violinist Adrien Chevalier. On the clarinet and saxophone we had Danny Lipsitz, on the guitar Tim Clement and on the bass Julian Smith. Tatiana Eva-Marie charmed the audience once again with her heartfelt interpretations. It was such a wonderful evening and we couldn’t have thought of any better way of spending Bastille Day and celebrating France, the country we hold so dear.

Bastille Day in Washington

Taking it easy at the Residence de France

We were very fortunate to be received as personal guests of Monsieur l’Ambassadeur and spend two days at his private residence. We were immediately welcomed with a tasty “goûter” (the French equivalent of the American “snack”) which consisted of fresh home-squeezed orange juice and the best jambon-beurre sandwich ever to roam the face of the earth. This feast was served on the finest Limoges porcelain and silk napkins with tags that read “made in France”. When we went up to our private “suites” we found bottles of Perrier and macarons waiting for us… they did not wait long and disappeared very quickly.

The Residence itself is of breathtaking beauty and it was quite an honor to be able to enjoy the centuries of history that surounded us. Among many things, there was a Bonnard painting, a rug with Napoleon’s itinial and dancing bees, and beautiful second empire style furniture. We were all hesitant to sit and step on these priceless items which seemed to belong in a museum. For breakfast, we were served in a large green chamber with numerous suns and cherubs on the walls and enjoyed the best croissants and pains au chocolat found on this side of the Atlantic, with little jars of Bonne Maman jam. We were treated like royalty and the Ambassador was very kind and thoughtful.

The return to our tiny crumbling New York apartments was very hard on us. It’s funny how quickly one can get accustomed to beauty and luxury.

Below is a picture of Tatiana Eva-Marie and her dress enjoying themselves at the Residence de France.

Bastille Day in NYC

Bastille Day in NYC

Avalon Jazz Band has been called on duty to represent France at the French Embassy in Washington DC, so we won’t be in New York for what Americans very charmingly call «Bastille Day». We actually just call it quatorze juillet. If you are in Manhattan or Brooklyn, here are some places you might want to check out for French music, food and fun.

On Sunday, July 15th 2012, the French Institute / Alliance Française organizes their annual three-block party on 60th Street from 12-5pm. You can play pétanque, taste French specialties, listen to French music, look up the skirts of cancan dancers and discover the crafts of artisans from various regions of France, as well as other French-speaking countries. It’s a great place to take your kids too, fun for the whole family! There will also be a small parade of vintage Citroën cars, and that’s really cool.

If you are looking for a place to show off your dancing skills, you should go to the Bastille Day Ball on Thursday, July 12th, from 7:30pm to 1am at The Club 404. There will be a live band, including French perfomer Floanne singing Edith Piaf, and later on DJ Super Jaimie.

In Brooklyn, the best place to be on July 15th is without a doubt Bar Tabac: Smith street is covered in sand and 80 teams come from all over the world for the annual pétanque tournament. You can encourage theparticipants while sipping a glass of pastis and listening to live music. Festivities start at 11am and continue until 10pm.

On July 14th, if you are looking for French jazz, you can go listen to Myriam Phiro’s trio at Brasserie Julien on the Upper East Side. It’s a charming bistro, and Tatiana Eva-Marie recommends the Pissaladier, a South of France specialty somewhat akin to the Italian pizza. She also encourages you to taste any cocktail with Saint Germain liqueur in it (her favorite), it’s a spirit made from elderflowers picked in the Alps.

If your way of celebrating is simply enjoying great food, then Matisse Restaurant is the place for you. Celebrity chef Arnaud Perreau will be concocting a special Bastille Day menu. He is ridiculously talented and with him every bite is a symphony. We don’t even know what to recommend… everything is so good. Just be sure to wash it down with some Sancerre or Saint Emillion!

We hope these tips have helped you plan your Bastille Day celebration in style. Don’t forget that it is also French Restaurant Week from the 8th to the 15th of July, so check out their website to see the list of participating restaurants.