André Hodeir (arr, dir), Roger Guérin, Jean Liesse, Buzz Gardner, Donald Byrd, Idrees Sulieman (tp), Nat Peck, André Paquinet, Frank Rehak (tb), Jean Aldegon, Hubert Rostaing, Hal McKusick (as), Raymond Guiot (fl), Bobby Jaspar, Georges Grenu (ts), Armand Migiani (bs), Martial Solal, Eddie Costa (p), Fats Sadi, Jean-Pierre Drouet (vib), Pierre Michelot, George Duvivier (b), Jacques David, Christian Garros, Kenny Clarke, Bobby Donaldson (d), Christiane Legrand, Annie Ross (vcl)
Reference: FSRCD 945
Bar code: 8427328609456
André Hodeir (1921-2011) was one of the world’s most literate composers and working critics in the world of jazz. He began his career as a violin player, a path he abandoned three years after joining the Paris Conservatoire in 1942, to concentrate on his work as an arranger and writer.
For Hodeir, who had classic training but felt drawn to the aesthetic of jazz, the problem was how to transcend the frame of his technique and recreate it in jazz terms. So to figure it out, in 1949 he went into a long period of silence that would last until 1954, when he made his first recording with the Jazz Groupe de Paris. This opportunity gave him a chance to crystallize the concepts he had been working on for five years. “At the time of the creation of the Jazz Groupe de Paris, there was nothing set in stone in my writing, it was all sketches I needed to try out. That’s also the reason I gave the title Essais to the pieces resulting from this project.”
Hodeir wrote his most avant-garde work for the Jazz Groupe, among whose members were some of the best soloists in Paris. Their collective effort led them to become one of the most sought-after jazz units in Europe, and Hodeir’s recordings with them earned him a world following that led to his American debut for the Savoy label. For this new session, he put together an all-star jazz band that would revisit his first six Essais, as well as record three new original compositions.
In 1957, John Lewis best described Hodeir’s musical attitude in a Down Beat article, when he said: “He’s giving people ideas and directions and things to do. His work itself is of value, but he’s also showing others by his work what can be done in many areas.”
"Here is some of the most intelligently conceived and entrancing music Hodeir committed to disc, graced by an extensive and informative essay from Fresh Sound's Jordi Pujol - who rightly observes that Hodeir (1921-2011) was “one of the world's most literate composers and working critics in the world of jazz”. The French polymath's Jazz: Its Evolution And Essence and Toward Jazz remain some of the most cogent and stimulating analyses of the music.
Hodeir studied with Messiaen and played violin with Django Reinhardt and Kenny Clarke. Such a distinctive background gave him a special aptitude for counterpoint and timbre and a particular sensitivity to the creative tension between compositional logic and improvisational élan (small wonder that Monk's Criss Cross and Lewis's Milano feature here). There is so much to enjoy in these cuts, from the brief, swinging serialism of the 1954 Paradoxe and the multi-tracked layering of Flautando (with Martial Solal, Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke accompanying flautist Guiot) to the mellow magic of, e.g., Bobby Jaspar, Hal McCusick, Frank Rehak and George Duvivier on the American Jazzmen Play sides.
While the tenor of Davis's Birth Of The Cool is at times present (Cross Criss) the originality of Hodeir is everywhere evident. Sample the seven-movement Cantata and relish both the soaring verve of vocalist Christiane Legrand and the chromatic subtlety of the broadly spread yet incisive mix of punchy swing and atemporal abstraction. Hear Jazz Et Jazz to see how Hodeir could blend jazz timbres and the pitch-bending world of musique concrete. Or turn to the blues-shot The Alphabet and enjoy the walking bass groove and increasingly potent voicings which underpin and enfold Annie Ross's sparely cast yet sensuous wordless vocal. All fabulous stuff - and just a small fraction of the delights on offer throughout this surpassing release."
Jazz Journal (February, 2017)