On the left, a black Steinway piano. In the centre, a double bass. On the right, the drums. Opposite, the public, ready for things to kick off! The musicians arrive, and greet each other quietly. Then music, emotion, art. Nothing else. An intimate conversation which began years ago in 1985 has been reprised every summer since at the Jazz a Juan festival. Although every spectator remembers their favorite performance, there is no denying that each and every one was memorable, on every occasion presenting a new world to be discovered.
On my way to this mecca of jazz on the Cote d’Azure, I was hearing an auditory symphony of another kind, as I pressed the gas pedal to the floor, with power roaring from behind thanks to some V8 lungs. Needless to say, I was feeling alive with the wind in my hair, the canvas roof of my Camaro tucked invisibly away behind the rear seats. The heat of the afternoon was incredible, so much so that when I arrived at my destination, I was worried the concierge would burn himself touching the car to open the trunk for my luggage. I’ve arrived in Eze, on the French Riviera. Perched above the sea on a cliff, Eze was the last bastion to hold back the invading Saracens centuries ago.
The city’s name is derived from legend, which has it that Zlatko Balokovic, a Yugoslavian violinist, was guided to this place by a goat with golden hair. My hotel, the Chèvre d’Or, immortalized that legend with its name. It’s been sixty years since Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor, Roger Moore and Lauren Bacall flocked to this stunning property 429 meters above the sea line, but this boutique hotel remains golden thanks to its a boutique appeal and its two Michelin starred restaurant. There are no more than thirty rooms, each featuring timeless décor, so it is a monumental triumph to occupy one of them in the summer months. Yet I have! So I’m here, taking in the picturesque Eze and the views down Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
At the start of June the Mediterranean becomes a playground for the sun and sail worshippers who flock to the blue waters of the Antibes peninsula. The Trophée Panerai attracts vintage yachts and also the newest luxury vessels, this year bringing together 70 racers, more than ever before. It makes for an incredible view to take in, seeing all these vessels, including some of the greatest in the world. There’s also Les Voiles d’Antibes, a celebration of historic sailing boats from the 19th and 20th century. What could be better in this historic city than a five day festival commemorating the highlights of an époque never to be forgotten! And this location is not just for yachters – Eze is right opposite the location of the world’s most famous jazz festival, which takes place in Antibes Juan-Les-Pins.
From the scorching sun in my convertible to the wind on the yacht and the salt water on the beach, it can be ordeal for the skin to cope with. Those who know understand the importance of cleansing before applying any active substances. I turn to Ceramic Slip, which is full of extracts from jasmine, sandalwood, frankincense and French green clay among many other potent ingredients. The work required to locate such ingredients, which nourish, moisturize, inhibit, reverse, reduce, increase, upregulate and rejuvenate our most sensitive organ is quite simply astonishing! It is so elegantly simple just to enjoy these delicate creams which come to us in glass bottles, which only ask of us that we respect our skin enough to apply it!
“You need to widen the scope of jazz so as not to leave it” was the motto of André Hodeir, the great jazz composer and violinist who recently passed away. This year once again, in Juan-les-Pins, jazz will lead you from blues to folk, rock, bossa-nova, funk and… Bach. Jazz has long been able to win over musicians of different genres with its assimilation of different traditions and influences from around the world. The 53rd Jazz a Juan festival will begin after me and my Camaro convertible are gone with the wind. For ten days mid-July this will become a mecca for thousands, who will come to listen to more than 200 artists in the streets, restaurants and the legendary Gould pine grove. Artists including the Avishai Cohen Quartet, Diana Krall, Sting, Melody Gardot, Hiromi, Ibrahim Maalouf, Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, Marcus Miller, and more are set this year to deliver the fusion of jazz to listeners’ ears.
The Cote d’Azure is discovered on one’s first visit, yet never fully revealed and uncovered. Returning year by year, one understands why.