Reference: FSRCD 978
Bar code: 8427328609784
This here is the definition of international jazz, recorded in Paris in 1956 by two relaxed, unpretentious, melodic, and well-rehearsed groups including both American and European jazz musicians. These meetings were documented in two excellent albums: “Jazz on the Left Bank” and “Réunion à Paris.”
The remarkably versatile trombonist-writer Billy Byers and pianist Martial Solal wrote these loosely swinging arrangements, and although they took care of one album each, their work blends seamlessly in the hands of a group of consistently professional musicians. Byers playing is satisfying in both albums, while Solal feeds chords almost imperceptibly, with his solos bouncing along effortlessly helped by the propelling force of Benoît Quersin’s skilled bass support.
And although the wonderful, cohesive group sound present in these two albums was significantly shaped by Byers and Solal, all their colleagues demonstrate their usual, considerable skill—the competent playing of trumpeter Dick Mills, the full sound and guts of William Boucaya on baritone, as well as the ever-present taste of drummer Wessel Ilcken on “Jazz on the Left Bank.” Jimmy Deuchar’s exciting solo work on trumpet, and Allen Eager’s flow of ideas on tenor are stimulated by the rhythm effort of Quersin once again, this time with Kenny Clarke’s drums on “Réunion à Paris.” The music in these two albums is an invigorating set of flowing originals and arrangements that make an out of the ordinary listening experience.
"It’s good to hear Billy Byers doing a fair bit of soloing, and he’s revealed as a very close disciple of Bill Harris. He’s also the author of the most swinging charts here – his arranging talents have never been in question. The other outstanding brassman is predictably Jimmy Deuchar. And here’s a magnificent chance to hear the most obscure of the great swingers one more time – the unique Allen Eager on tenor. I’ve expressed admiration before in these pages for the fine baritone of Mr Boucaya.
Fresh Sounds’ recent issues have shown Martial Solal to have been one of the most gifted French arrangers and pianists and this album is further confirmation. His nimble bop solos retain their freshness, unlike some of his charts which have inevitably dated over more than 60 years. Kenny Clarke is as crisp and immaculate on the (2) sides and on the rest the Dutch Wessel Ilcken is impressively inspired. Dick Mills (who he?) is a delicate soloist not at all out of place on these sides, which confirm how good French record companies were at putting together great record sessions more or less at the drop of a hat.
This session is as good but different from the contemporary The Herdsmen Blow In Paris, that wonderful album blessed by a brilliant team of soloists headed up by Bill Perkins and Ralph Burns. The arrangements on that were sketchy and designed for blowing. These are much more organised and tidy.
One of the best tracks is the long Buyer’s Blues. I’ve heard it under another title, but one which now escapes my poor old brain. Eager gets a nice chance to stretch out on this slow blues and you’ll tick off the Harris twists and turns one by one as they come forth from Billy. This was the sort of blues tempo Joe Newman loved, and Deuchar’s full-toned solo brings echoes of Joe. Good piano throughout this long number."
Nic Jones (June 15, 2019)
"Back in the mid 50s, jazz was THE language of love in France. Here, you get a pair of albums from September 1956 by locals along with American Ex-pats that are as tasty as a Crepes with Nutella.
The first session from September 12 & 14 includes Dick Mills/tp, Billy Byers/tb, William Boucaya/bs-ts, Martial Solal/p, Benoit Quersin/b and Wessel Ilcken/dr for a mix of originals and standards. Boucaya’s tenor is rich on a swooning “You Don’t Know What Love Is” while his baritone bops on “Patti’s NY Blues.” The horns breeze like West Coast Cool on “Salute to Vo” and Byers swings it for “The Long Nite.”
Even better is the session with the underrated warm tenor of Allen Eager sitting in with Byers, Martial Solal/p, Quersin and proto-bopping drummer Kenny Clarke. Eager is a mellow master on “Illusion” and smokes like a Montecristo on “Buyer’s Blues.” Clarke is crisp as he rides the cymbal for Solal on “Kenny’s Special” and is kinetic on “Cinerama.” The horns are as tight as the Houston Astro infield with Byers’ buttery ‘bone on “Trianon” and the team is urgent on the charging “Love Me Or Leave Me.” Bopping with the beret!"
George W. Harris (May 13, 2019)
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