I know Michel Bastide as the slender, bespectacled hot cornetist of the Hot Antic Jazz Band, a very earnest, gracious man and musician. Here he is leading a small incendiary group at the 2010 Whitley Bay Jazz Party, “Doc’s Night Owls.” The “Doc,” incidentally, is because M. Bastide’s day gig is as an ophthalmologist. But before this week, I didn’t know that he was also an early member of my guild of jazz archivists, and my admiration for him has soared. I stumbled across his priceless half-hour memory tour on YouTube, was immediately thrilled, and I suggest you will feel as I do.
Monsieur and Madame Bastide went to the 1974 Grande Parade du Jazz. It was one year before any of the proceedings were broadcast on television, so although some recordings were made, the active life of the festival was not documented. Perhaps Doctor Bastide has a deep spiritual respect for the powers of the eye, of visual acuity and visual memory, or he simply could not bear going home without some tangible souvenirs that could be revisited and cherished once again. He brought a color 8mm film camera, which was the technology of the times, and his wife carried a small cassette recorder that got surprisingly clear audio fidelity.
Perhaps because of the inertia and tedium that are the gift to us of Covid-19, eleven months ago M. Bastide began the difficult, careful, and no doubt time-consuming work of attempting to synchronize music and image. The results are spectacular and touching: he is quite a cinematographer, catching glimpses of the musicians hard at work and having a wonderful time.
I’ll offer some a guided tour of this impromptu magic carpet / time machine, beginning at the Nice airport on July 14, 1974: glimpses of Claude Hopkins, Paul Barnes, Vic Dickenson, Beryl Bryden, Lucille Armstrong;
An ad hoc sidewalk session for Lucille with Michel Bastide, Moustache, Benny Waters, Tommy Sancton;
Dejan’s Brass Band in the opening parade, July 15;
Cozy Cole, Vic Dickenson (talking!) and Arvell Shaw;
Lucille Armstrong unveils a bust of Louis with Princess Grace of Monaco in attendance (how gorgeous she is!);
STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE, with Wallace Davenport, Wild Bill Davison, Bill Coleman, Jimmy McPartland, Barney Bigard, Budd Johnson, Vic Dickenson, George Wein, Arvell Shaw, Cozy Cole;
Eubie Blake talks and plays;
Moustache All-Stars with George Wein;
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with Kid Thomas Valentine, Emmanuel Paul, Louis Nelson, Alonzo Stewart, Joseph Butler, Paul Barnes, Charlie Hamilton;
World’s Greatest Jazz Band, with Yank Lawson, Bob Haggart, Bennie Morton (in shirtsleeeves!), Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern, Jimmy McPartland, Joe Venuti, Marian McPartland;
a glimpse of Claude Hopkins, Buddy Tate, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis;
the Barney Bigard – Earl Hines quartet;
Buddy Tate signing an autograph;
Milt Buckner, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Tiny Grimes, Jo Jones;
Cozy Cole, to the side, smoking a substantial joint, watching Jo;
George Barnes, Ruby Braff, Wayne Wright, Michael Moore;
Kid Thomas Valentine and Alonzo Stewart signing autographs; Tiny Grimes walking to the next set; Claude Hopkins; Arvell Shaw waving so sweetly at the camera;
Earl Hines solo;
World’s Greatest Jazz Band with Lawson, Haggart, Wilber, Morton, Ralph Sutton, Bud Freeman, Gus Johnson;
Vic Dickenson joining the WGJB for DOODLE DOO DOO;
Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing TIGER RAG with Barney Bigard off to the side, joining in.
Wonderful glimpses: to me, who looks happy in the band; who takes an extra chorus and surprises the next soloist; adjusting of tuning slides; spraying oil on one’s trombone. Grace Kelly’s beauty; Arvell Shaw’s sweet grin. Just magic, and the camera is almost always focused on something or someone gratifying:
Monsieur and Madame Bastide have given us a rare gift: a chance to be happy engaged participants in a scene that few of us could enjoy at the time. I was amazed by it and still am, although slightly dismayed that his YouTube channel had one solitary subscriber — me. I hope you’ll show him some love and support. Who knows what other little reels of film might be in the Bastide treasure-chest for us to marvel at?
May your happiness increase!