Listening to live jazz is often problematic for me, because jazz clubs start playing about the time I’m snapping off the bedside lamp. But last week in Paris, my friend Donna Morris pointed me to the Cercle Suédois, upstairs in a beautiful building near the Place de la Concorde, where the jazz runs from 7:30 – 10pm on Wednesday nights.
As we walked up the marble stairs, we could hear a buzz of people. Stylishly dressed people, mostly in their 30s and 40s, were crowded into the bar. A €10 entrance fee also brought me a glass of wine.
Located right on the rue de Rivoli, the Swedish Circle club has been operating in Paris since 1891. They host a number of events for members and guests, and you can even eat lunch there Monday – Friday. For the Wednesday night jazz concerts, you don’t have to be a member or even invited; you just walk in.
We sat in a typically French room with high ceilings and arched windows overlooking the Tuileries gardens. Tall mirrors and a crystal chandelier made the room sparkle with light. There’s a different menu during the jazz concerts every week. I ordered Swedish tapas: herring in mustard sauce, salmon pudding, meatballs and smoked lamb with horseradish (a bargain for €10).
Up in front of the room, Viktorija Gecyte from Lithuania sang American jazz classics, backed up by Julien Coriatt on piano and Peter Giron on bass. Viktorija has a light and clear voice, and she sang almost exclusively in English. People talked together quietly – mostly in French and Swedish — during the sets, and others wandered in and out. There was always a crush at the bar in the next room.
This was a totally unexpected evening for me – not the sort of thing I do at home. Despite its Swedish origin, it felt very Parisian. If you like jazz, I’d definitely suggest you drop by on your next visit to Paris (doesn’t everybody have a next visit coming up someday?)