Jimmy Gourley (g), Henri Renaud, Bob Dorough, Krysztof Komeda (p), Pierre Michelot, Buddy Banks, Jean-Marie Ingrand, Adam Skorupka (b), Jean-Louis Viale, Roy Haynes, Daniel Humair, Adam Jedrzejowski (d)
Bar code: 8427328611015
Many American musicians visited France after la Liberation, some famous, some not so famous. But, curiously, the guitar as an instrument was always poorly represented, with John Collins’ brief stay in May 1948 as the only noteworthy example. Jimmy Gourley became the first prominent guitarist to visit the country in the early 1950s, a time when Django Reinhardt was still the benchmark for jazz guitar in Europe. His arrival in April 1951 was significant because with him, the guitarist brought to Paris the modern cool style that Jimmy Raney had been developing in the States, a new school directly inspired by Charlie Christian and Lester Young. With his guitar, Gourley introduced the Parisian scene to the relaxed, vibrato-less tone and subdued harmonies that modern cool jazz musicians favored. There is little doubt that had Jimmy remained in the United States, he would have become one of the finest jazz guitarists in America.
"Just when you think you’ve heard every swinging guitarist… Fresh Sound Records has uncovered yet another lost jazz artist that deserves modern appreciation. This time around it’s guitarist Jimmy Gourley, who was born in the Midwest but made his name in France (for reasons laid out in the albums insightful liner notes booklet). This disc features him in various European settings from mostly the early 50s and a bit of 1961, with lots of classy soloing in the vein of Herb Ellis and Johnny Smith.
The first session from Paris is a 1953 outing with the famed pianist Henri Renaud, bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Jean-Louis Viale, with the latter hips and swinging for the guitarist on “I Love You” and “Changing My Tune”. His bop lines are rich during “It’s De-Lovely” and he digs in with Viale for the grooving “Not Really The Blues”. In October of that year, he’s with Bob Dorough/p, Buddy Banks/b and the indefatigable Roy Haynes/dr for a cool “Buddy Bankds Blues” and a nimble “Almost Like Being In Love” as Haynes’ brushes are in deft support for Gourley’s thrilling solo on “A Night In Tunisia”. In 1961, Gourley does a TV broadcast and produces a relaxed “How Long Has This Been Going On” and joins with a local Warsaw rhythm team for a Polish gig for a swinging “Three Little Words”. As tasty as a morning baguette!"
—George W. Harris (July 26, 2021)
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