Classic Soul Music

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


(Photo, courtesy Isabelle Coeurdevey)

As I mentioned in Part 1 of the Paris blog, this was my first visit to the city in over thirty years and it has changed. Most notable difference: the sizeable North African and West African communities (immigrants from Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon and other countries that were previously colonized by the French) which have added a truly international flavor and style to what was already a city with a global flair. Personally, I love such diversity, found with much more frequency in European cities than in American equivalents (outside of New York and Miami and to some extent Los Angeles) so I felt instantly 'at home.' As detailed in Part 1, my first few hours were spent enjoying Leee John's show at The New Morning club. The next morning, I spent some more time in the company of Mr. John as we conducted our first-ever on camera in depth interview, covering such subjects as artistic interpretation (a subject about which I could truly wax lyrical!), his early influences (which surprisingly included such legends as Nat King Cole, whose music was frequently heard in the John household), his choice to make a jazz album as his first solo venture and more. We're both hopeful that the footage can and will be used in a future UK or French television documentary...

Then it was off to a delightful lunch with Ralph Tee of Expansion Records (who had journeyed to Paris for our Soul event) chatting about the UK soul music market and the world of soul music in general. In a flurry of activity - which included a lengthy wait for a taxi at Gare De L'Est - Ralph and I, in the company of Frederic Adrian's girlfriend Isabelle Coeurdevey (another devoted soul music afficianado) headed off to One Way Cafe in the Saint-Ouens district of Paris, best known for its large flea market. Chrissy, the owner of the club (usually a venue for live music, particularly blues) had graciously opened it for our use for the evening - so many thanks to her for doing so.

A lively Q&A session followed in which I got to reminisce and share about different events from my past forty years living and working in the world of soul music. I was struck by the knowledge and dedication that French fans of this music displayed, akin to the devotion that my fellow Brits have shown towards R&B for decades now. It is refreshing indeed and I thoroughly enjoyed speaking about my activities as a reissue producer, my memories of 'discovering' R&B and more. Leee John and friends joined us and we were able to have a lively conversation on matters soulful before I headed off with Frederic (who had spent time putting the event together), Isabelle, another of our Soul dedicated customers Guy (who had driven almost three hours to attend the event) and friends into the Paris night to fulfill one of my personal wishes - to visit the great Sacre Coeur church, a place I had visited in my youth. The view from the steps is as spectacular as ever and I was reminded of how magical Paris can be. Who knows, if I had stayed in the city longer, I just might have fallen in love - as I had done as a young school boy during my first trip to France! But that's another story, one best left for whenever I write my memoirs!

Breakfast with Frederic, Isabelle and Guy was spent 'speaking soul' and I loved listening to The Kelly Brothers while sharing about some of the Atlantic-related projects I plan to work on in 2007 and hearing Frederic share his own vision for an international soul music convention in France, an idea I fully endorse. There really is nothing like sharing one's appreciation of this great music with folks of like mind and the idea of having such an event sparks the imagination. Indeed, we even speculated that the highpoint might be performances by Sam Dees (an obvious musical hero of Frederic's), Bettye Lavette and others! Certainly, my own plans to spend more time in the U.K. could lead to involvement with such a stay tuned!

Soon it was time to head back to the airport and back to the U.K. where I was able to connect with a couple of people - like dj Brian Goddard who used to spin music at the very first club I ever attended in London, the long gone Le Deuce niterie on D'Arblay Street in Soho. Oh, the memories, the memories! It remains to say a big thanks to all who made my trip so worthwhile including my sister Sylvia, Ralph Tee, Paul Clifford, Bob Killbourn of Blues & Soul, Junior Giscombe, Leon and Carol Ware, Leee John and co., Frederic Adrian and Isabelle Coeurdevey, Guy H., Vernal Scott and Michael of Soul for holding down the fort while I experienced my internationality!

Always soulfully yours,



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