Sunday, June 24, 2012


This weekend has been a wonderfully harmonic mix of music and friends. Christian Brenner and I kicked it off early – on Thursday at the Café Laurent – looking pretty in pink.

Marti and I brought our visiting pal Noah to Christian’s solo piano prelude at cocktail hour. We caught each other up on news: what’s been going on with Noah’s bride Kelly and their kids back home in San Francisco, Marti’s and my latest adventures and misadventures here in the City Of Lights.

Noah was in Europe for a series of customer winery tours, on behalf of the import side of Banshee, his exciting new wine venture. The Sonoma-based company works closely with high-end vineyard owners and wineries to produce wines of depth, purity and balance. Their Pinots are now beginning to appear on top restaurant lists and in a host of fine wine shops.

We sipped Champagne while Christian played. On the setbreak Noah described his wine business to an interested Christian.

Noah, whom we first met a decade ago when he lived here in Paris, was on a tight schedule, headed the next morning to Barcelona to help conduct the vineyard tours. It was great to hang with him again.

Marti and I parted company with Noah and Christian, then strolled up rue Dauphine to a new raw bar-resto called Opium La Cabane.

My Assiette Toscane. The proprietor's wife hails from Tuscany so she ensures that all the meats and cheeses here are artisanal.

Marti's smoked salmon platter. Delizioso!

We were fortifying ourselves for a long night of walking the euphonious streets of the Left Bank. Performers were everywhere. It was June 21: La Fête de La Musique!

Marti took a vacation day on Friday. After we slept off the previous night’s marathon Fête excursion we made lunch at home, then went to see Prometheus at a neighborhood cinema. Following a series of lukewarm film projects, Ridley Scott has returned to top form with this prequel to Alien. Now if he can only get that sequel to Blade Runner off the ground, I’ll be a happy chappy.

Next on our itinerary was a follow-up doctor appointment for Marti. We celebrated her thumbs-up report at – where else – the Café Laurent. Forget naming a drink after us. This place should put our pictures on the drink coasters. During the two early solo piano sets we hung out with Christian and bass ace François Fuchs, who sat in on a couple of tunes.

At the break between the piano stint and the 9 p.m. main concert Marti and I joined Christian, François and drummer Pier Paolo Pozzi for dinner nearby at Xin Gainian, an excellent Asian fusion restaurant in rue Dauphine.

While we were there Berklee alumnus Lukas Chester Harlan, an outstanding guitarist who would be guesting with the trio that evening, came to dine as well.

Chester and I were seated together and had an enjoyable conversation about music, Boston and the prospect of making an entire album of different versions of the Sacha Distel-Jean Broussole standard “La Belle Vie.” (You may know it as “The Good Life,” as sung by Tony Bennett.) The CD would include swing, country, reggae, rap and trip-hop takes on the song. I proposed a growling Tom Waits megaphone version of “The Good Life.” I think he’d do it proud.

The basic – but never boring – trio: Christian, François and Pier Paolo. You can download their most recent release here.

Chester exhibited formidable chops on his Gibson, all taste and tasty tone.

Bien installé with my bride.

Added starters. Our friends Sarah and James had arrived from the U.K. earlier in the day with Sarah’s parents Sheila and Geoff in tow. Everybody was celebrating birthdays and anniversaries with a Paris weekend. We had plans to see them today, but I suggested that Marti text them to see if they’d like to join us at the Café Laurent after their double-date dinner.

Geoff and James, who is really starting to come out of his shell.

Marti and Geoff. They look so happy together; I hated to break them up.

Me with the Birthday Girl. Chester decided to salute her Natal Day not with that traditional candle-blow-out number, but an out-of-season seasonal classic.

"White Christmas" (Irving Berlin)
Chester Harlan – Guitar
Christian Brenner - Piano
François Fuchs - Bass
Pier Paolo Pozzi - Drums

June 22, 2012
Café Laurent
Paris, France.

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