Michel Leeb was born in 1947 in Germany, in Cologne, to a German father and an Italian mother. He delights the French with his imitations, theatrical performances and his love of jazz.
Gérard Bertrand: Hello everyone, it's the seventh Wine, Food and Music live, it's May 29th, we're at Château l'Hospital and we have the privilege of having a multi-person guest. -talented since he is simultaneously a crooner, writer, comedian and theater man, welcome to Michel Leeb
Michel Leeb: Hello, how are you?
Gérard Bertrand: couldn't be better, I'm very happy to have you here and then I present to you our chef Laurent Chabbert who has been cooking virtual for three months, from Tuesday June 2 he opens his kitchens and we are impatient. So if you're in the area because I know you're in Provence, you're not very far if you're in Languedoc, you're welcome. In fact, he made the spring, autumn, summer and winter card at the same time he worked a lot for four months
How's the lockdown going then? or unconfinement for that matter
Michel Leeb: But yes, because that's it, we've all been locked up for two and a half months, but fortunately I put this period of parenthesis at the service of writing so I write, I wrote a play, I wrote my next spectra that I worked on a lot. I worked a lot and that's it, so now well we were out of confinement we're going to start little by little to breathe to live to find friends we love, family etc etc and it's going to start again. This is an incredibly curious, strange, resanctiogenic period for many people but now here I think life has to start again, more than before probably.
Gérard Bertrand: So Michel is what we can do anyway, we have a tradition, it's to toast your future success. We are going to taste the ballerina together, which is a Crémant de Limoux rosé that I sent on lattes.
Michel Leeb: I've got it.
Gérard Bertrand: So we're going to start with a drink Michel, right? It's time.
Michel Leeb: Yes I think it's time, that's the most important thing
Gérard Bertrand: Cheers Michel
Michel leeb: cheers
Gerard Bertrand: Health
Michel leeb: health
Gérard bertrand: and to the health of all the listeners who follow us
Michel leeb: here and who are watching us
Gérard Bertrand: exactly
So the chef started with the amuse-bouche Michel
What did the chef come up with today?
Chef Laurent Chabert: So to accompany the ballerina, I made a vegetarian Rolls with carrot, cucumber, a little bit of garden salad, Radi, beetroot that we made into pickles, there's celery too, in return we made a turnip that we cut very thin. And there, I'm going to add nasturtium leaves for the peppery taste
Michel Leeb: we can't hear well, I'd rather he show me because I can't hear anything
Gérard Bertrand: go ahead, get closer, he'll show you
Chef Laurent Chabert: So there is a little vegetable maquis with lots of little nasturtium flowers and nasturtium leaves.
Gérard Bertrand: That's my little privilege, Michel, I'm sorry.
Michel Leeb: It's bad because I want to
chef Laurent Chabert: fleur de sel, olive oil, it's fresh, in fact it's for the summer.
Gérard Bertrand: So it's very good to whet your appetite like that Michel, I remember an anecdote. My dad who died thirty years ago now, he was a fan of you and so I was in a restaurant with him in Provence, I don't know where and my mom. And so he said to me, there's Michel Leeb opposite, you had given him a big smile and it had made his evening because already, it's been a few years of your career behind you. Me what fascinates me is that you were first known by humor. But music, is that what you like the most? What transcends you the most out of all the talents you have?
Michel Leeb: Me, you know, I really like what I do when I do it, so when I play a play like for example, currently soon with Pierre Arditi, I enjoy it. When I sing at L'Hospitalet with Big Bands, Dominique Rieux, I enjoy it. When I do a one-man show on my own and I tell stories of all kinds, I do facial expressions, gags, sketches and all that, I enjoy it. When I eat good food, I enjoy it. When I drink glasses I enjoy. When I live I feast.
Gérard Bertrand: So who are you a disciple of? of Epicurus?
Michel Leeb: And yes, and of course and that's life, you have to enjoy everything you have.
Gérard Bertrand: But what did you start with Michel, theater or music?
Michel Leeb: I started with theater and then I did a one-man show. And the music that was part of my life, which is always part of my life, I said to myself, one day, I have to do something on stage but musically. So I did a jazz concert with two, three musicians and then there were four, five, six, there were Big Bands that I had the chance to meet when I was in charge of the festival Nice Jazz.
Gerard Bertrand:I saw that.
Michel Leeb: Well, for several years I met all the musicians I loved when I was a kid. I was a jazz fan all the time, all my life so when I had the chance to meet all these musicians there and in particular the musicians of Cambezi, ohlala. So ask all the jazz musicians who Cambezi is, you'll see that the guys are going to do somersaults. So I went to see them, I said I would like to do an album with them. He said "how"? I said that I would like to do an album with them. He tells me it's okay, go back to school. I tell him wait, wait, I'm going to give you two, three examples. I started humming stuff in front of them, they said well you know what if you have the courage, we're going to take on the f****** as they say and well listen, you see, we're taking you on tour . And I went on tour with them. We made an album and when we tour with the band, well listen after huh, well after...
Gérard Bertrand: So we're happy because you're in front of your piano there, can we go on tour right away?
Michel Leeb: yes, well, I'm going to play you a little bit, wait, I'm going to do it like this, you see the piano?
Gérard Bertrand: Yes, I can see that very well.
Michel Leeb:But you don't see me anymore.
Gérard Bertrand: We can see you are fine.
Michel Leeb: Wait, then I'll play you a little trick
"It's Gérard Bertrand's blues, he likes it from time to time, he's a big kid, and his music is his tomatoes and carrots. Music is chef Chabert's cuisine, I love Bertrand, he whines all the time, it feels good to have a guy like that who makes all the people who come to eat here all the time happy, oh yeah »
Gérard Bertrand: Thank you Michel for this improvised intro, here we see you. So that's what's great about jazz, it's that the improvisation is total. And even if there were on a canvas, we have extraordinary examples. The one that stood out to me the most right here, you know, was the maceo Parker who was James brand's sax and so he came twice: the first time he came he played three hours. He did a 21-minute sax piece, everyone was in a trance, it was extraordinary. And you, among Americans, what is your top two or top three references?
Michel Leeb: It's difficult, there's Coltrane, Rollins, Malzéville, Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, all the Big Bands, Cambezzi, Duke Ellington. The singers, so there is only one singer and it's Sinata and he's the only one and all the others are kids. Here and there are of course singers, a singer and there are not two of them it is of course the fidgerald Diana Kral whom I like a lot and then here after among the French singers there are wonderful French singers. I had a wonderful friend who is no longer there who was Charles Aznavour and Charles Aznavour, he was, for me, the French Sinatra if we can say so and hey there are musicians…
Gérard Bertran: I am impressed by James Brown's voice.
Michel Leeb: Yes of course I love it, I love it.
Gérard Bertrand: Did you see when he sang with Pavarotti?
Michel Leeb: Yes it was beautiful.
Gérard Bertrand: It was extraordinary.
Michel Leeb: Magnificent and I like it when he moves on stage you know, Mickael Jackson was very inspired by James Brown, very inspired.
Gérard Bertrand: Exactly, and Michel is said that you move as well as James Brown does on stage.
Michel Leeb: Yes yes yes of course yes yes yes. Take care of your onions there.
Gérard Bertrand: No it's true, with your friend you were talking about, Dominique Orieut there, so he did a tour with you and that's one of his best memories because he says that with you Michel, it's before, during and after so you have to keep this conviviality, this good mood and I remember that before the concert you had dinner with us at the Château l'Hospitalet in 2007 and you had a glass of wine . Is this something you often do before going on stage or not?
Michel Leeb: Yes, I always drink a glass of wine before going on stage because it's very good for the vocal cords. Tannin in quotes greases the vocal cords, see what I'm saying?
Gérard Bertrand: yes, so I have a lot of memories since after the concert we have the opportunity to have a drink, certainly with the artists and then there are two in particular, it was with George Benson because he came he was extraordinary and he told me a bit about his life and then he said to me: you know I only drink chardonnay. So we opened a bottle he finished it he was in great shape and so he told me about his life.After the concert he sang again in his dressing room it was a great moment And the second was with Zucchero because in fact he said to me "I want to eat I'm hungry" it's because infact he hadn't eaten and so we spent three hours eating. We brought him some ham because he's from Parma, or nearby, and so we had an evening like that and it's true that there's a lot of conviviality with the artists because when you have over there is a kind of looseness isn't there? So you're hungry and want a drink.
Michel Leeb: When I took care of the Nice festival, we had set up a stage in an olive grove, a huge building where 10,000 people could fit and we had built the stage, but obviously we had to be careful not to damage the olive trees and we had put the stage in a place where there was an olive tree that we could not touch. This is the only place where we could set the scene. And so the olive tree was in the middle of the stage, we pass the artists, full of musicians, singers, Joe Cocker, Al Jarreaux, James Brown, all these people, all these people come and there is one who arrives and who says: so there I'm going to tell you, there's no way I'm singing with an olive tree on the stage.
Gérard Bertrand: your Toulouse friend
Michel Leeb: My Toulouse friend, I tell him Claude, I can't do otherwise. It's out of the question, I tell him, but finally Claude I can't, he came, Joe Jocker he came, Phil Collins they all came honestly you can't do that to me. Well then I'm going to tell you I want to sing well provided that you send me liters and liters of oil from this olive tree. And I kept my word, I sent him all the oil I could from that olive tree, there wasn't a lot of it but I did it and he sang and he hit the big time Claude whom we love.
Gérard Bertrand: We have a special relationship because infact Claude Nougaro he was also a bit Catalan and he had a house in Tautavel, in Roussillon, the man of Tautavel but since it is the wine that we put forward in the world he often came there so this accent that you make, it's really him and we see the comedian who stands out.
Michel Leeb: And yes I did imitations, so many imitations that it's part of my thing.
Gérard Bertrand: So boss what are we going to have now?
Michel Leeb: Ah, the chef
Chef Laurent Chabert: So there, I'm finishing my zucchini dish.
Michel Leeb: What is terrible is that we are not going to eat it.
Gérard Bertrand : So Michel, what is your favorite dish? What do you like to cook yourself?
Michel Leeb: So I'm going to tell you, you're going to be very disappointed because my favorite dish is a very simple thing, it's Neapolitan spaghetti.
Gérard Bertrand: That's good by the way.
Michel Leeb: Yes it's very good but obviously I'm not, so my friend is Pierre Arditi I can tell you that he is a great specialist, so you obviously know it , he must have come to your house.
Gérard Bertrand: But he only drinks Bordeaux so he's nice but he should get into Languedoc and Provence wines, right?
Michel Leeb: But he has so many qualities, but in any case, the food, he knows that, I can tell you that he is also gifted, because he cooks, I don't cook. not.
Gérard Bertrand: So Michel he's going to approach because, look at the beauty of the dish
Michel Leeb: Well done! So what is it exactly?
Chef Laurent Chabert: So the zucchini flower that was stuffed with a fine meager stuffing, it's a Mediterranean fish, then inside I added a little bit of smoked mullet, savory flowers, and chive flowers. There we steamed, rosemary steam, thyme finally everything you find in the clape, a little lemon here, after a zucchini carpaccio on top and zucchini and olives just pan-fried.
Gérard Bertrand: So Michel, I'll tell you, these are local and garden products that are organic, that are grown biodynamically and that are in partnership with all the local producers, so it only works with organic products and it's true that it's better when you can do it
Michel Leeb: my wine is organic
Gérard Bertrand: We'll talk about it.
Michel Leeb: But that's not very nice of you because, we're here, we can't even taste it, I like the show but...
Gérard Bertrand: That's why we're going to invite you then Michel, we're going to toast with the white Château Hospitalet, here we go, the new vintage so here, in fact it's a wink for remind you of those good times in 2007 when you came. Because I remember that you had asked for a good glass of Château Hospitalet red so there you go, so on the different estates you see we try to magnify these terroirs and it's really a magnificent terroir la clape.
Michel Leeb: He is really beautiful.
Gérard Bertrand: It goes very well with the dish but I'm not going to make the affront of tasting it Michel because I feel that you're salivating so if in addition, I taste... I'll taste it right away hour but Michel, I was told that you have such a prestigious vintage as the Romané Conqui, which is the most exclusive wine in the world.
Michel Leeb: So I'm going to tell you about it, I have one hectare and a hundred of a wine that I call the clos du tilleul, it's my home, because there's a huge lime tree who protects this vine and it is an extremely rare wine it is a wine that is not financially affordable and it is remarkable because it is a wine, it is Grenache and it is exceptional, it is a wine extremely rare, but there are still a hundred bottles for friends.
Gérard Bertrand: So you drink 4900 in a year.
Michel Leeb: I drink 4,900 a year, I don't drink them, no, it's operated by a big company.
Gérard Bertrand: friends of yours
Michel Leeb: That's called Oreto, it's a box that works very well here and a wine company and it's really very good and thanks to them I no longer exploit this vineyard, the work, exploit it entirely and they give me a hundred bottles as a gift, but it's at my house.
Gérard Bertrand: Do you participate in the harvest a bit?
Michel Leeb: no because I'm always on the go and I'm never there, sometimes I see them they come because it's a reasoned culture it's really very good, it's is very serious, it's organic and roof, like you.
Gérard Bertrand: Le clos du tes tilleuls is a pretty name.
Michel Leeb: The Linden Clos
Gérard Bertrand: linden, you could make a song from elsewhere one day the top maybe.
Michel Leeb: but yes, but I'm not a songwriter
Gérard Bertrand: in my opinion, you don't have to force a lot for you to succeed
Michel Leeb: It's my son who composes you know
Gérard Bertrand: I know, he's not too frustrated that there was no ranking for Eurovision.
Michel Leeb: Of course I did, but he said it was good because it was the only year I was not in danger of not losing.
Gérard Bertrand: yes, there were only winners.
Michel Leeb: There were only winners so good very well, so maybe next year we will see, anyway, it still gave him a lot of publicity.
Gérard Bertrand: Yes and with, between Tom and Fany and you, have you already done public shows.
Michel Leeb: So with my daughter Fany, I sang a few times I had invited her, for example, to Paris at the Paris casino where I was singing and she came to sing with me Tom too he was on stage with me and besides coming Sunday we are doing a leb special at Drucker and so it's recorded next Tuesday and it will be broadcast on June 28th. I'm doing a little publicity but anyway good.
Gérard Bertrand: it's nice, it's good
Michel Leeb: So here we are doing a leb special Tom Fany and me
Gérard Bertrand: And the three of you are going to play on stage there or not?
Michel Leeb: The three of us are going to do something.
Gérard Bertrand: Ah, it's nice because there is also Julio Iglesias who has his two sons who make music.
Michel Leeb: Ah yes I know him very well Julio he is very nice he asked me to come with him, he said to me, come with me, come with me, come with me Argentina when I was very young and I didn't want to go there because I don't know Spanish well, I don't speak Spanish well. But he was the Julio he told me, it made me happy and I like it a lot because I made Julio's first party at the Olympia myself...
Gérard Bertrand: Ah yes and that's why I'm bouncing it because it's still a phenomenon too and what inspired you? Because he really is an extraordinary stage man.
Michel Leeb: But opening for, opening for Julio Iglesias at the Olympia, it was extraordinary because I was introducing myself there was no presenter, I I was going backstage and I was like, now what, ladies and gentlemen, for you tonight exclusively opening for Julio Iglesias, the extraordinary, Michel Leeb. I arrived and there people thought that someone was introducing me, of course I was kidding about it but it was nice, you have to manage well at the beginning.
Gérard Bertrand: Because infact, I really like his music and his songs and infact one day I was watching, here it is…
Michel Leeb: I haven't changed, still the same socks with holes
Gérard Bertrand: I don't know if you know the anecdote but one day he was singing in Cadiz in Spain and it was raining, and at 10 o'clock in the evening we say it's raining, we can't play but stay the Julio going to come and people were shouting Julio, Julio and they were shouting like that until 5 a.m. there fell a deluge of fleet and the concert was between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and he dis c is the most beautiful emotion I have had in my life because I waited for the night waiting to be able to play and there were 5000 people who took the fleet on the head
Michel Leeb: and did he sing or not?
Gérard Bertrand: He sang yes.
Michel Leeb: At 5 a.m.?
Gérard Bertrand: yes, it's extraordinary, I saw this report, it moved me, it was extraordinary and people were only yelling, shouting
Michel Leeb: I have other anecdotes, I had arrived in Grenoble, I was singing and doing my show, it was raining so much on the Place du Général de Gaulle in Grenoble, can you imagine that people they were put in the car, they hadn't got out of the car so much it was raining in front of the stage, there were I don't know me, 200/300 cars in front of the stage.
Gerard Bertrand: sunrise
Michel Leeb: But it was correct and good so can you imagine me I had to tell people is what you hear and presto he was flashing the headlights, can you hear me? I said so if you clap you honk okay and if you laugh you run your windshield wipers. I swear it's true, and in the end they wanted to leave there was no battery in the cars.
Gérard Bertrand: yes it's not bad yes you have lots of anecdotes like that it's extraordinary.
Michel Leeb: ohlala, well that's what this job is, if you knew, I could tell you about it until tomorrow morning but hey, we have other things to do.
Gérard Bertrand: And you also did some impromptu gigs like that that lasted forever?
Michel Leeb: well yes because, if you want jazz, what jazz is the exchange and if the exchange is done well, it can last for hours and hours and hours.You were telling me earlier about Maceo Parker's 26-minute solo, that means it was good so it can last, I haven't happened to go over 6/7 hours of show, never...
Gérard Bertrand: It's already good, at least...
Michel Leeb: no no no no but hey...
Gérard Bertrand: Do you have the same preparation when you go on stage for the theater? Is it harder or easier than getting on stage when we're going to make music?
Michel Leeb: making music, I have more difficulty getting on stage when I play theater rather than music because theater if you like, there is a real rigor which does not does not mean that there is no rigor in the music but it is much more relaxed there are possible improvisations there are possible winks we can do 1000 things it depends, the theater is rails on which we can't move and if you crash you, you crash the others, good in music too by the way but the exchange is not the same, it's not the same thing
Gérard Bertrand: And Arditi and the others aren't a little scared that you're going live a bit just to lose them?
Michel Leeb: Yes and it's a very good question, it's a very good question because I have a tendency to try to plant my friends but it always goes very well because they have a sense of humor Pierre has a great sense of humor and he's very fond of this kind of thing, he's a pleasure seeker and he likes to have fun and on stage, the first thing he said to me two days ago , even yesterday, he told me strongly that we start having fun again
Gérard Bertrand: It's great, it's great because indeed...
Michel Leeb: Because if you're not having fun, the audience won't be having fun either.
Gérard Bertrand: Because I remember when you came for the, with the big band brass, you were humorous, you couldn't help but challenge the public, our friend the sub-prefect who was there you made him a little miserable so you are, you are in permanent interaction but in a rigorous framework like the theater, because the public sees it when you leave the room, it sees when you improvise.
Michel Leeb: And he loves it.
Gérard Bertrand: He loves it because it really makes the moment unique.
Michel Leeb: Well, when we have a lot of laughter and then we crash, you know there are times when we can't go any further, there are times when we can't go any further because 'we laugh so much we can't move on and the audience is thrilled, they're like crazy and I remember something, can you imagine we were at the Variety Theater in Paris, I was playing a very funny play which was called 3 everywhere, a very funny play with lots of funny stuff it was a hit and can you imagine that at some point, at some point, I shake hands with a boy you know well, who is all the days on television who is called Gérard Hernandez, he is in a show on m6 called I don't know what anymore it seems to me that it's stuff about couples who argue with each other who I don't know how, well, I shake his hand and by shaking his hand in addition I was very elegant very well dressed I say hello, my name is Jean François Thibault, and he makes me enchanted and the moment I shake his hand, I fart and fart good.On top of that, what do you want him to do? He says to me delighted and he bursts out laughing but uncontrollably and he tells me, he tells me this sentence because opposite, on the theater and opposite on the other side of the boulevard, there was Jean Lefèvre who was playing a play and he said to me: oh dear, and there is a lady in the front row who said: and well done, Jean Michel Lefèvre he must have heard it, we lowered the curtain, we lowered the curtain because we couldn't continue to play So those are moments you're going to tell me it's not very fine but at the same time when it happens, you can't stop laughing and well...
Gérard Bertrand: You know I have a past as a rugby player, we haven't always done it with finesse either.
Michel Leeb: no but here it is
Gérard Bertrand: and these are the best moments because we remember them and they become legends after we tell them to each other. So Michel look, the chef continued, look at what he cooked for you.
Michel Leeb: Ah it's beautiful, it's beautiful, it's beautiful so what is it?
Chef Laurent Chabert: So there, we cooked the pork cheek from Catalonia, Catalan, near Perpignan, there we braised it in thyme from the clape for about 6 hours and in red wine, then a piperade that I made next to yellow pepper, red pepper and tomatoes, a little onion and sebête and here is the juice at the end that we reduced a little with a honey caramel.
Gérard Bertrand: so all these dishes will be à la carte Michel, and I know that you are coming in September with Pierre Arditi to Narbonne
Michel Leeb: in October
Gérard Bertrand: In October so when you, if you stay with us what we want you will be our guests and therefore the chef, all his dishes will be on his menu this fall, so you can truly taste them
Michel Leeb: and you ride a bike Mr Chabert?
Chef Laurent Chabert: a little yes
Michel Leeb: Ah yes, it's good because you have a nice cap and I thought it was a cycling cap.
Gérard Bertrand: And yes, you know, first of all he is an ally. So his parents are farmers, they are breeders, so that's why meat knows him
Michel Leeb: Well that's good, keep going.
Gérard Bertrand: So Michel, let's have a drink. So it's the last drink of the evening.
Michel Leeb: go
Gérard Bertrand: So Château la Soujeole is in Malperre. So it's a great wine on the side of the city of Carcassonne, you know, this area, it's special because we have cabernet franc, merlot and malbec like in Bordeaux and if you fly on Air-France; we are going to advertise them right now because they really need it. You can drink it in business like Sigalus or Château Hospitalet. So a little nod to our friends at Air-France hoping that the lines will open very soon so that we can travel a little. Cheers Michel.
Michel Leeb: Thank you for welcoming me into your home.
Gérard Bertrand: So can we just end with three little musical notes Michel before we part? First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to you Michel, to tell you that this is a great moment and that I hope to receive you, both the man but also the musician and the man of the theater since you are coming to Narbonne. I also wish you a good recovery with Pierre Arditi.You have, we can say it, maybe an upcoming play with the unmentionable Fany Cotennsson that will start soon, right?
Michel Leeb: starting November 14 in Paris
Gérard Bertrand: So you have a lot of news and I guess that in 2021 you
go back to the festivals a bit
Michel Leeb: Absolutely, so I'll play you a little piece.
Gérard Bertrand: Thank you, Michel, so we're going to finish with some music and then see you very soon.
Michel Leeb: See you very soon, goodbye Mr. Chabert thank you Gérard.
Gérard Bertrand: See you next Friday
Michel Leeb: So I'm writing you 3 little notes to say goodbye
Gérard Bertrand: see you soon: thank you see you soon
Michel Leeb: Hello.