It is one of the cliches associated with France and its culture to picture those cafes crowded with people sitting at their terrace, sipping on a coffee, watching the bystanders, and dreaming of who knows what (probably their next vacation). New York used to be a lot like that too only a few years back, I remember. Is it possible that those dreamers were simply wasting their time by wandering aimlessly the realm of their thoughts? How did people accept such waste of precious time? Thanks to the smartphone, such abomination is no longer a fatality. Nowadays you can be stimulated at any time and you don't have to endure the affliction of solitude. Simply bend down your neck, get your thumb ready for action (because you don't even need more than one finger!) and type, slide, scroll, watch, without even knowing why. Are you scared of being alone with yourself even for 5 minutes? Same thing with the 2,000 pictures stored preciously in case of lack of memory. Why do you have to show me a picture of that sunset, and why do you have to shoot it in the first place? I know what a sunset looks like, and I fancy imagining a thousand different ones. And what about that trivia? Do I really have to know for sure the color of Henry IV's white horse? Why can't I try to think about it? And even if I'm wrong it doesn't matter, because I IMAGINED.
First time I visited NYC, in 2000, I met Gabriel, "Gabe", at Guitar Center on 14th St. Skinny, grey hair, very hippie-ish looking, he approached me as I was checking out some classical guitars. I wish I could remember his first words to me. We spoke and jammed for an hour and he invited me to meet him the next day at W.S. park to play some more, which we did. This was the beginning of a long friendship. A few weeks later, back in Paris, I received call from the guy saying that he would like to come visit. As I was going away for a couple days, I left him the keys of my apartment at my local bar. I think he was very touched and surprised that I could trust a almost-stranger to the point of letting him in while I was away. Gabe kept on coming to Paris over the years. When I finally moved to NY, he was the one who showed me how to make contacts and "hustle". We played several nights a week in bars. What a great time. For a reason or another we ended up seeing each other less and less.
Gabe was very secretive. He never wanted to tell me his real name or his age, saying that it didn't matter at all. He was right. Gabe was obsessed with the Sun. He said that it was the true god, giving us warmth, light, energy, allowing all life to exist. Again he was right.
Gabe past away in June 2007. His ashes were scattered in the ocean, at a place he liked. I am sad we couldn't say goodbye.
Dancers. Aren't they beautiful? Look at those fine legs and that grace... haaa... But don't be fooled. Behind the apparent beauty hides a vicious creature! Of course I am joking, but playing for dancers is extremely challenging; and because their art is all about aesthetics and perfection, they can't be forgiving, neither for themselves, nor for you, foolish musician. Accompanying dancers is all about regularity in the time, where you would normally use the time as a way to express feelings with slight fluctuations (play rubato).
25 years later I decided to go back to what was my first love and put my hands on that beautiful Gibson Les PaulTraditional 2011. I plug it into a Ibanez TS-8, a Boss DD-7 and a Fender Blues Junior. It kicks ass!
I'm now working hard on blues licks, some Rock and Jazz, and I hope to play it live very soon.