Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jacques Loussier: Plays Bach

By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 9.3.09
Buy CD: Jacques Loussier Plays Bach

Some time ago, I was blown away by an album from master pianist Jacques Loussier.

Telarc has released another CD to celebrate this artist's ongoing involvement with his Play Bach Trio ... and this album is every bit as stunning as the last one I heard.

In the 1950s, Loussier — a young artist trying to find a way to improvise on the compositions of J.S. Bach — sometimes entertained his friends by mixing Bach with jazz. This concept was such a hit that he organized his first Play Bach Trio in 1959. This album recognizes that group's 50th anniversary, and also is an early birthday gift; Loussier will be 75 in October.

The tracks re-issued here were recorded as part of a Bach tercentenary celebration in 1985. In response to a request from cohorts, Loussier (who had retired the trio) re-formed it, using brilliant bassist Vincent Charbonnier and drummer Andre Arpino.

I've never heard better quality and cohesiveness.

Their original recordings have been out of circulation since the late 1990s; this album resurrects them. The 11 tracks of various Bach inventions were from concerts performed in France, Japan and England. Some are more “classical” than others, but just as you think to ask, “Where's the jazz?,” it works its way into the melody line.

Bach's compositions have inspired jazz musicians for years. As jazz has matured and become more modern, the great composer's “lines” are heard more and more frequently.

Let's face it: Deep down, ol' Johann Sebastian was a swinger!

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