Like most people on the Cote d'Azur, summer is the time when you get holiday visitors especially those who want to come during the sun drenched season or as their work or school schedule permits.
So this week we were pleased to welcome my nephew, Christopher and niece, Emma here for four days only.... down from visiting Paris. They are really an engaging brother and sister act so we mostly sat around and swapped funny stories and listened to Monsieur, who pulled a lot of hilarious tales out of his deep bag of experiences. It helped that he also pulled some chilled bottles of rose out of the fridge.
But Emma and Christopher also had plenty of stories to tell us.... about Japan which is a country they have visited (and Emma has lived in) and their different academic and social lives in Oregon and Seattle. We don't get to see each other often but when we do it is always a good time and there is always singing involved if Christopher is around.... and anyway that is sort of a Puckett family tradition.
To show them my patch, we did do a day at the sea together at the local " Miami " plage , our nearest local private beach. They were offering a chaise and parasol and lunch for 22 euros and we thought that sounded just the thing with the limitation of our white, English skin. Of course, two hours of "transat" time turned out to be too short so next time I will do the whole morning at full price. And I will ask for the Caesar salad without the overdose of anchovies... but that is just a detail. We had a good Mediterranean idyll.
The next big event for our few days together was suggested by my friend Jeanne who let us know that there were still tickets available for the Juan Le Pins jazz festival and a concert with Bobby McFerrin and the Jazz Crusaders . As a bonus , she was going to drive us there where we could meet up with two other pals.
The crusaders were great old time players with a "street cred" formed by years of platinum albums and by having played music together since early childhood into their 70's in some cases. They gave us the reassuring, authentic sounds of Louisiana jazz and soul: earthy and mellow original tunes from sure masters of the craft.
Bobby McFerrin has long been a favorite of mine since San Francisco where I saw an early concert. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_McFerrin
I have a video of him on this blog on his birthday March 11th. He has a range of vocal sounds that he offers instead of instrumentation...his voice easily swinging from bass to falsetto within seconds, adding to the thrill of his vocals.
A ten time grammy award winner, unique as the master of rhythms and songs in 15 different languages, ( Japanese, Sanskrit, and Zulu to name a few), Bobby McFerrin is an original who studies language development at scientific conferences as well as participating in his musical world tours. His most impressive language is simply his sound repertoire from clicks to glissades.
This week at Juan Les Pins he matched his voice to the jazz sounds of the instruments around him, often riffing off another player in a intimate duet..... vocal scats and instruments together.
Since McFerrin's range of offerings is so vast, from classical music sounds ( not singing) to pop tunes ( not singing either), I was a bit disappointed that he just did "the jazz thing" and didn't take the limelight really, giving equal time to the Jazz Crusaders who had already been the opening act. But he did offer us a participation exercise that the crowd loved and invited select adherents to riff a little too in the famous jazz "scat" style which was a definite crowd pleaser.
It was one of his low key performances, most of it performed while seated, but he got a much deserved ovation at the end.
There is only one Bobby McFerrin as there is just one Juan les Pins: a town full of restaurants bars and colorful boutiques which comes alive only in the summer months and stays sleepy the rest of the year. It is the perfect setting for good music looking out over a tranquil sea.