"Jazz was very popular in France those days," says clarinetist Michel Mardiguian, who founded his first jazz band, the Bootleggers, while a student in Paris in 1960. Mardiguian, whose work as an electronics engineer brought him to the United States in 1980, will bring his Clarinet Connection to the Georgetown Annex, 9612 Grant Ave., Manassas, today at 4:30 p.m. -- the first in a series of local traditional jazz groups. Ron Hockett will also be on clarinet, Rick Rowe on guitar, Frank Borror on bass, Sonny McGown at the drums and Johnson (Fat Cat) McRee on vocals.
"Sidney Bechet had just died in 1959 and his memory was still lingering and there were plenty of good musicians in Paris, people like Bill Coleman, Albert Nicholas, Mezz Mezzrow, Kenny Clarke -- so there was really good atmosphere," recalls Mardiguian. These and others of equal fame regularly sat in with the Bootleggers, who in 1968 opened their own club, La Pied Bleu, in the city's Latin Quarter.
"We were so fed up with trying to get gigs," explains Mardiguian. "The typical club owner in France is just not much better or much worse than in the U.S. They try some jazz group every now and then, don't advertise very correctly and if it doesn't work, they just take a rock and roll band or any kind of junk music. It was just the same in France. So we decided to have our own club so we wouldn't have to worry about the owner firing us."