Lest you think Jazz is seldom seen and heard and has all but vanished from the musical landscape – not so in Europe, or throughout the rest of the world in general. It’s alive and well and thriving and jammed full of American ex-pats who have found a home and an audience and fan bases. For their part, the World of Jazz has opened up and brought many new voices into the mix. In this case, Martial Solal, a French pianist born in Algeria, has been prominent on the Jazz scene since the 1950s has been one of the more influential voices. His recorded output borders on the legendary and his collaborations read like a Who’s Who in Jazz.
This session, one of numerous sessions Solal has done for French radio, both as soloist and Band leader, comes from 1984. It features the work of fellow-Frenchman Jacques Di Donatto on clarinet – and even though the set is short (I suspect an extraction from a longer session), it gives you some idea of what’s been going on in Europe, and has been since the 1920s.
A little background via Wikipedia, in case you aren’t familiar and would like to get up to speed.
Solal was the son of an opera singer and piano teacher, and learned the instrument from the age of six. After settling in Paris in 1950, he soon began working with leading musicians including Django Reinhardt and expatriates from the United States like Sidney Bechet and Don Byas. He formed a quartet (occasionally also leading a big band) in the late 1950s, although he had been recording as a leader since 1953. Solal then began composing film music, eventually providing over twenty scores. He is probably best known for the music he wrote for Jean-Luc Godard‘s debut feature film Breathless (À bout de souffle, 1960).
In 1963 he made a much admired appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island; the Newport ’63 album purporting to be a recording of this gig is actually a studio recreation. At this time, his regular trio featured bassist Guy Pedersen and drummer Daniel Humair. From 1968 he regularly performed and recorded with Lee Konitz in Europe and the United States of America.
You can also dive straight into his voluminous output, simply by Googling his name or heading over to Wikipedia and checking out his partial discography. Lots of great stuff and a lot of memorable collaborations.
Crank it up and relax.