Introducing Café Mouffe: Steve Lacy in Paris

For me, Friday afternoon means jazz. When I get home from work on Fridays, what I want most is to walk down the street with Ms. Modigliani to a funky little jazz club with a piano trio, bistro cooking, a coterie of variegated lounge lizards, and some amiable conversation. A place like the Village Vanguard in New York or Snug Harbor in New Orleans. A flaneur’s haunt like Café Delmas at the top of Rue Mouffetard in Paris. My small town doesn’t have that kind of club, so I have to imagine it. I’d call it Café Mouffe. I know I’m blending places here – a village in Ohio, Greenwich Village, Faubourg Marigny, the ancient village of Lutecia on the Left Bank. But hey, it’s my imagination, isn’t it? I need all these places to conjure an ambiance I can thrive in.

This YouTube clip of Steve Lacy’s sextet in Paris does the same kind of blending and conjuring for me. Lacy is joined here by his wife Irene Aebi on violin and vocals, Steve Potts on alto, Jean-Jacques Avenel on bass, Oliver Johnson on drums, and Bobby Few on piano. The composition is called “Prospectus.” We know all the details thanks to the dedicated lounge lizards who commented on the clip. That’s a virtual jazz club for you. That’s Café Mouffe.

Like a lot of American jazz musicians in the 1960s, Steve Lacy left New York for the expatriate jazz scene in Paris. I dreamed of going there to hear him. Eventually he came back to the States once a year to gig around. To my unending astonishment, he came to Yellow Springs in 1997, performing in Kelly Hall with the trio featured on Bye-Ya. It wasn’t Friday afternoon but a wintry Tuesday night. My friend Bemsha Bob dragged me out, insisting it was something that could only happen once in a lifetime. He was right. Hearing Steve Lacy in my laid-back little village in Ohio remains the most incredible musical experience I ever had.

Today you can see and hear a lot of fine jazz on YouTube. I plan to sample the best of it every Friday at Café Mouffe. Please join me. Damn the copyrights, full speed ahead! Avant!

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