Nice Jazz Festival 2014






Well that was a big improvement! Last year’s festival was marred by the not-quite-finished construction of the Coulée Verte, the stretch of park and promenade that extends the Jardins Albert 1er where the festival is held. The festival space is much more attractive now that the landscaping is finished. Winding walkways lined with trees and flowering bushes open onto a new and spacious dining area, the Place Yitzhak Rabin, with food stalls and picnic tables. It’s a pleasant place to nibble and listen to the sounds coming from the Masséna stage. In fact, the music from the Masséna stage can be enjoyed from the bordering streets for those wishing to save €35 for a ticket! The ambiance is not the same though. The other stage is the Théâtre de Verdure, a more traditional venue, where seats are arranged in a semi-circle around the stage. The two stages are set far apart in an effort to keep the sounds from the larger Masséna which hosts the more blockbuster acts, from bleeding onto the Verdure crowd. Much progress had been made on that front mainly because the acts start at different times. Truly blockbuster acts were in short supply this year. (See the program here) The headliners at the Scene Masséna drew niche crowds: Deep Purple for nostalgic oldsters; Metronomy and Electro Deluxe for youngsters; Gipsy Kings and Ibrahim Maalouf for World Music fans. There was no major pop star either on the way down or on the way up to pull in the … Continue reading →




Parc Mercantour: Fete de la Nature 2014






  France’s Fete de la Nature is my all-time favorite French fete. You can have the much ballyhooed Fete de la Musique with its battalions of amateur musicians banging away on every streetcorner or the widely-ignored Fete des Voisins which is supposed to prompt neighbors to resolve their squabbles over a glass of wine. For me the Queen of Fetes is this Nature Festival which aims to get people out into the countryside and learn a thing or two about the birds, bees, trees and plants lying just outside the city gates. Since the festival is poorly publicized few realize what a glorious opportunity it is to discover the countryside with experts both knowledgeable and passionate about their subject. It’s not as though France’s network of hiking trails are unknown. Au contraire. There’s a regular parade of hikers scrambling up and down the mountains on pleasant weekends. But in the race to the top, few stop to look around and wonder about their surroundings. And imparting a sense of wonder is what makes the Fete de la Nature such a special event. As I’ve previously written, the Parc Mercantour dispatches its expert gardes-moniteurs (park rangers) to lead small groups on themed walks involving beetles, birds, butterflies, Mediterranean plants, flowers and forests. The walks are not terribly arduous although it helps to have good shoes and some experience with mountain walking. The Parc Mercantour has a series of programs that stretches across its vast terrain but I chose to focus on the Roya … Continue reading →




Nice Jazz Festival 2014






Mayor Christian Estrosi, festival director Dimitri Triadafillidis, artistic director Sebastien Vidal and festival parrain Richard Galliano gathered today at the Nice Opera to announce the line up for this year’s Nice Jazz Festival. First, Mayor Estrosi reminded the group that his decision to move the festival from its traditional home in Cimiez has been a success. Last year showed a 17% increase in the number of visitors. He also promised that the setting would be much improved this year as landscaping has been completed on the new Jardins Albert Premier. The festival will kick off on July 8 with Richard Galliano and the Nice Jazz Orchestra. Also on the bill will be Cecile McLorin Salvant, Kris Bowers, Keziah Jones, Ben L’Oncle Soul and Patrice. The headline July 9 will be the Christian McBride Trio. Also appearing will be Snarky Puppy, Vincent Peirani & Emile Parisien, Metronomy, Ibrahim Maalouf and Electro Deluxe. Jazz legend Kenny Garrett is the star on July 10. That evening will also rock to The Daptones, Deep Purple, Har Mar Superstar, Eli Degibri Quartet and Nikki Yanofsky. July 11 will see the return of Dr John & The Nite Trippers plus Butler, Bernstein & the Hot 9, Tony Paeleman Quartet, the Gipsy Kings, Cody Chesnutt and Robin McKelle & the Flytones. The festival will close on July 12 with Ed Motta & Nice Jazz Orchestra Horns, Joshua Redman Quartet, the winner of Tremplin Off, Cassius, De La Soul Live Band and The Galactic. Tickets are sold at … Continue reading →