Do you like music? Enjoy open-air concerts in a quintessentially Mediterranean setting? Then you should know that the Côte d’Azur is not only the perfect location in which to learn French in France, it’s also one of the best places to listen to music in all its forms! From the Nice Jazz Festival, to the Plages électroniques electronic music festival in Cannes, the Nuits du sud world music festival in Vence and the Nuits Carrées festival in Antibes, it’s clear that locals take a keen interest in music of all genres. Among these events, the Juan-les-Pins Jazz Festival, which this year celebrates its fifty-eighth anniversary, is one of the world’s best-known jazz festivals, alongside Montreux in Switzerland and Newport in the United States.
When you hear the words “Juan” and “jazz” together, it’s impossible not to think of Sidney Bechet, one of the first American musicians to appreciate our town. It was in his honour that the festival was first established in July 1960, a year after his death. Playing jazz outdoors, just steps from the sea, to an audience drawn from every part of society – it’s a concept that certainly might have appealed to the composer behind Petite Fleur (Little Flower) and Dans les rues d’Antibes (In the Streets of Antibes). Today, Jazz à Juan seeks to embrace different musical styles and uncover new talent. Stéphane Grappelli, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Charlie Mingus, Count Basie, Nina Simone, Fats Domino are just a few of the jazz stars who have performed in Juan-les-Pins; it would be impossible to come up with an exhaustive list. This year, the programme will feature Lenny Kravitz, Earth, Wind and Fire, Melody Gardot and Norah Jones. What more could you ask for?
In 1964, when Ella Fitzgerald sang at La Pinède Gould, the cicadas were so noisy that they almost drowned out her voice! Far from letting this put her off, however, the singer decided to improvise a song in honour of the insects which wanted to steal her thunder! The piece is now known as The Cricket Song and is one of the great tracks by this unforgettable artist.