Posted in April in Paris, Cole Porter, Django Reinhardt, jazz, Josephine Baker, Le Jazz Hot, Linda Porter, Paris Blues, Sidney Bichet, Stevie Holland, The Anderson Twins

Paris Swings

Peter Anderson (clarinet), Will Anderson (sax),
Luc Decker (drums), Clovis Nicolas (bass), and
Alex Wintz (guitar) in “Le Jazz Hot How The
French Saved Jazz”
at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Eileen O’Donnell
“Love, Linda- The Life of Mrs.
Cole Porter,”
at The York
Theatre Company. Photos by
Carol Rosegg.

It’s no canard that the French took to American jazz like a duck to water.

Starting in the 1920’s, American musicians fled to the receptive shores of the Seine (and the Riviera) to enjoy a lively and welcoming cabaret scene. 
Among those were Les Cole Porters, as well as ex-pats Josephine Baker and Sidney Bichet. Bud Powell, Kenny Clark and Dizzy Gillespie felt right at home in France. Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong also made appearances before an admiring public.
Stevie Holland’s and Gary William Friedman’s “Love, Linda- The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter,” premiering at The York Theatre Company through January 5th, tells the story of Cole Porter as husband. Cole and Linda Porter (Stevie Holland) set up house in one of the fashionable arrondissments and entertained lavishly, and enjpyed the cabaret life of the city.  “Love, Linda” documents in story and with songs by Cole Porter (arranged for “Love, Linda…” by Friedman) their life from Europe and back to the States. Cole Porter wrote music for revues, but met his first success wth the Broadway show “Paris,” from which the hit “Let’s Do It/Let’s Fall In Love” emerged.
Stevie Holland is Linda Porter in “Love, Linda…” Sets by James Morgan, costumes by Pamela Dennis. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“Love, Linda…” covers a lot more ground than just the Porters’ sojourn in France. Linda Lee Thomas  was Cole’s senior  by nearly a decade, and married at the time they met. While aware of his homosexuality, she was drawn to his talent and gentleness, a contrast to her first husband’s brutality. Their marriage was more thna just one of convenience. Linda nurtured Cole’s art. 
“The appreciation of beauty,” Linda quotes her mother as saying, “is taste. The creation of  beauty is art.”
Holland is supported by music director Christopher McGovern on piano, Alex Wyatt on drums, and Danny Weller on bass. Richard Maltby, Jr. helms Linda’s story, which is cogently told in story and music. 
Peter and Will Anderson lead their “Le Jazz Hot” quintet. Photo by Eileen O’Donnell
“Le Jazz Hot- How The French Saved Jazz,” at 59E59 Theater’s E-Cafe through December 29th, takes an overview of Paris and its jazz scene from the years when Josephine Baker awed (and shocked) the world to the 50’s and 60’s, when Kenny Clarke and Bud Powell were regulars in the boites.

Peter and Will Anderson (sax, clarinets, flute) with Alex Wintz on guitar, Luc Decker on drums, and Clovis Nicolas on bass. (At other performances, you might encounter guitarist Randy Napoleon, bassist Neal Miner and drummer Phil Stewart on the small stage.) The apex of their virtuosity is in the performance of Duke Ellington’s “Paris Blues.” “La Vie en Rose” is pleasantly familiar while Django Reinhardt’s “Manoir de Mes Reves” is hauntingly unfamiliar.

Cabaret mixed with informative film clips makes “Le Jazz Hot” an amiable entertainment.

For more information about “Love, Linda…,” visit http://www.lovelindathemusical.com/. To learn more about “Le Jazz Hot,” please visit 59e59.org.