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More From My Christmas Market

WHEN I PUBLISHED my previous blog piece I thought that I’d said everything I needed to say about my local Christmas market – but it turns out there is a post-script.

When I went to get bread from my local boulangerie last Saturday afternoon I discovered a different Jazz band playing in the Christmas market, the Gibsy Quartet. They were very good and so I decided to record them for my Paris Soundscapes Archive.


The Gibsy Quartet


Over the years I’ve learned many lessons about how to record the sounds of urban life around me and one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is never to turn my sound recorder off as soon as I think I have a recording in the bag. Urban sounds can often be quite unpredictable and fascinating sounds can sometimes turn up when you least expect them. Another lesson is that what you might think are fairly ordinary sounds can suddenly become quite extraordinary.

One could argue that recording a jazz band playing in a Parisian street is nothing out of the ordinary, once you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all some might say.  But when events have a twist in the tail then the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

I recorded the Gibsy Quartet on Saturday afternoon. They were going to be at the Christmas market for much longer than I was so I recorded them playing two pieces and then I was about to head off for home. As is my practice, after they finished their second piece I left my sound recorder running and then, as I turned to walk away, this astonishing man appeared.


From his lofty perch he began singing and playing his concertina and I, the jazz band and several other people began to gather round him.


He spied the band beneath him and without hesitation he began to sing the Neapolitan song, O Sole Mio, an open invitation to the jazz musicians so used to improvising.


And improvise they did turning the ordinary into something quite extraordinary.

The Gibsy Quartet … and friend:

I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for recording the soundscapes of Paris, but if I ever do I shall listen to this recording and remind myself of why I do it. Capturing unexpected and unrepeatable sounds like this always gives me a buzz and listening to these sounds will always remind me of my local Christmas market, the infectious enthusiasm of musicians and the delicious smell of freshly baked bread in my local boulangerie.