Bobby Jaspar (cl, ts), Jean Bourguignon, Herman Sandy, Armand Bilak (tp), Jacques Pelzer (as), Jean-Marie Vandresse, Jean Leclère, Francy Boland, Henri Renaud (p), Sadi (vib, vcl), Pierre Robert, René Thomas (g), Charles Libon, Vic Geets, Georges Leclercq, Pierre Michelot (b), André Putsage, Geo Steene, Pierre Lemarchand (d)
Reference: FSRCD 977
Bar code: 8427328609777
This CD includes the early steps of Bobby Jaspar as a jazz musician, when he started on clarinet and then tenor saxophone, as he formed the young award-winning Belgian band they called “Bob Shots” —the first in Europe to play “be-bop” back in 1947 under the guidance of Jaspar's influence, Don Byas. One year later he met Lucky Thompson onstage in an enriching experience, and he became his new inspiration. These two encounters helped Bobby grow musically in a way that would make him a success everywhere, a blend of styles that was a compromise between the turbulence of Thompson, Lester Young, Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis, etc., and the rhapsodic style of Byas and Hawkins.
Already as a professional in Paris in 1950, he adopted the new “cool” sound, influenced at the beginning by Warne Marsh and then later by his new aesthetic referent Stan Getz. “A pure sonority, like that of Getz, is preferable to an abortive imitation of the black sound,” Jaspar said. Jazz-Hot’s Lucien Malson said of Jaspar that he was “one of the few tenors in Europe who could compare to any of the white American tenor saxophonists and come out on top.”
Although the sound quality of these recordings is generally acceptable, it has issues at times and we haven’t been able to clean the original source as well as we would have liked. That said, they are still an exceptional document that not only puts in value the unforgettable Bobby Jaspar, but also reminds us of the origins of the best jazz generation to emerge from Belgium.
"When one thinks of Bobby Jaspar, it is of a superior cool-toned tenor-saxophonist and flutist from Belgium who during 1956-63 spent much of his career playing and recording in the United States. He worked along the way with Miles Davis, Chet Baker and J.J. Johnson before his premature death from a weak heart.
However as this CD shows, Jaspar had already had an important career in Belgium and Europe before coming to the U.S. He started out during 1945-49 as a member of Belgium’s pioneering bop group the Bob Shots. Originally a swing unit in which Jaspar doubled on clarinet (there are four numbers from their earliest period including “I’ve Found A New Baby” and “Ain’t Misbehavin,’”), by 1947 with the underrated but excellent trumpeter Jean Bourguignon (who was strongly influenced by Dizzy Gillespie) and altoist Jacques Pelzer completing the front line of the septet, the Bob Shots were modern and impressive. They are heard performing such then-recent numbers as “Oop Bop Sh’Bam,” “Our Delight” and “Relaxin’ At Camarillo” along with their own boppish originals, both live and in the studios. Early Years also includes Jaspar’s first date as a leader, a quartet outing from 1951 on which his sound had evolved and matured.
With extensive and definitive liner notes by Fresh Sound’s founder and producer Jordi Pujol, Bobby Jaspar’s Early Years is a valuable addition to any jazz collector’s library, particularly those who love bebop."
Scott Yanow (June, 2019)
Los Angeles Jazz Scene
"Before becoming one of the heavies on the 1950’s hard bop scene on flute and tenor, Bobby Jaspar spent some time in Paris with some of the forward thinking French artists like Henri Renaud/p, Pieree Michelot/b and René Thomas/g. These 25 songs find Jaspar in a variety of settings, mostly with the band named “The Bob Shots” in the early days of Bebop of the mid to late 40s.
With a Dizzy Gillespie-inspired trumpeters Herman Sandy and Jean Bourguignon, The Bob Shots bop hard on classics like “Oop Bop Sh’Bam,” “Anthropology” and a frantic “Our Delight.” While the audio fidelity is a bit lacking, the enthusiasm is not, with aggressive drumming on “Thelonious,” Bourguignon glowing on “I Can’t Get Started” and Bobby Jaspar slithering on “Relaxin’ At Camarillo.”
What is a gas is when Sadi comes to the mic for some vocals, sounding like Satchmo on a ribald “That’s My Desire,” going bel canto on “Pastel Blue” and getting some fun out of life on a high striding “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”
A 1951 quartet has Jaspar with Henri Renaud/p and Piere Michelot on a Lester Young-inspired “Tenderley” and “How About You” while his rarely played clarinet evokes Benny Goodman on a cool “Don’t Be That Way” and a two stepping “I’ve Found A New Baby.” A spacious “Body and Soul” with Sadi on vibes, René Thomas' guitar and Georges Leclercq playing bass features Jaspar blowing smoke rings with delight. A bopper’s delight."
George W. Harris
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