Martial Solal Trio · Complete Sessions 1953-1962 (2-CD)
  • Martial Solal
    Martial Solal
  • Vogue LD 200
    Vogue LD 200
  • Swing M.33.340
    Swing M.33.340
  • Vogue EPL 7137
    Vogue EPL 7137
  • Columbia FPX 191
    Columbia FPX 191
  • Columbia FPX 221
    Columbia FPX 221
  • Pathé Marcony ESDF 1430
    Pathé Marcony ESDF 1430
  • Solal & Jean Cocteau
    Solal & Jean Cocteau

Martial Solal

Martial Solal Trio · Complete Sessions 1953-1962 (2-CD)

Fresh Sound Records

Martial Solal (p), Pierre Michelot, Jean-Marie Ingrand, Joe Benjamin, Benoit Quersin, Guy Pedersen (b), Pierre Lemarchand, Jean-Louis Viale, Roy Haynes, Daniel Humair (d)

Reference: FSRCD 982

Bar code: 8427328609821

A new pianist of startling talent burst onto the international jazz scene in late 1953. His name was Martial Solal, a young Frenchman born in Algiers (1927). He left his hometown for Paris at the age of 23 in search of a more favorable jazz climate, earning fame and experience along the way with a number of bands. In 1953 his playing caught the ear of legendary jazz producer Charles Delaunay, who offered to record him accompanied by Pierre Michelot and Pierre Lemarchand —the two leading voices in their respective instruments— for his Swing / Vogue label. These were Solal’s first trio recordings, and they immediately established him as someone to reckon with in the French jazz scene.

Bud Powell was Solal’s favorite pianist and one of his main influences, but Erroll Garner came a close second. Needless to say, as a bop enthusiast, he was fond of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis as well. His main objective was to play bop, but with his own brand of piano playing, looking for new harmonies because, as he says, “to me evolution is the first and most important thing.”

You will find in this collection all the qualities that make Martial Solal one of the best contemporary pianists: a soft touch full of contrasts —even in the more demanding pieces; his keen intelligence, which keeps him cool at all times; and the way he always swings forward through imagination and originality, which are the trademarks of his talent.

CD 1
01. Dinah (Lewis-Young-Akst) 3:01
02. La Chaloupée (Jacques Offenbach) 2:45
03. Ramona (Wayne-Wolfe Gilbert) 2:55
04. Once in a While (Edwards-Green) 2:39
05. Poinciana (Nat Simon) 2:59
06. The Champ (Dizzy Gillespie) 3:00
07. Farniente (Martial Solal) 3:17
08. Pennies from Heaven (Johnston-Burke) 2:39
09. Darn That Dream (Van Heusen-DeLange) 3:31
10. I Only Have Eyes for You (Warren-Dubin) 2:53
11. You Stepped Out of a Dream (Brown-Kahn) 2:30
12. The Way You Look Tonight (Kern-Fields) 2:51
13. Signal (Jimmy Raney) 2:55
14. Midi 1/4 (Martial Solal) 2:50
15. Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter) 2:30
16. You're Not the Kind of Boy (Smith) 2:48
17. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers-Hart) 3:38
18. Ridikool (Martial Solal) 2:43
19. You Go to My Head (Coots-Gillespie) 2:51
20. The Song Is You (Kern-Hammerstein) 2:27

CD 2
01. Ouin-Ouin (Martial Solal) 4:20
02. Theme a tics (Martial Solal) 3:02
03. Bonsoir (Martial Solal) 4:18
04. Very Fatigué (Martial Solal) 3:44
05. Middle Jazz (Martial Solal) 4:12
06. Jordu (Duke Jordan) 6:01
07. Nos Smoking (Martial Solal) 6:24
08. Special Club (Martial Solal) 7:30
09. Dermaplastic (Martial Solal) 4:48
10. Aigue-Marine (Martial Solal) 4:24
11. Averty, c’est Moi (Martial Solal) 6:23
12. Gavotte à Gaveau (Martial Solal) 5:52
13. Frise, Part I & II (Martial Solal) 9:37

Album details

Sources CD 1:
Tracks #1 & 2, from Swing 425, also on Martial Solal Vol.1 (Vogue LD 200)
Tracks #3 & 4, from Swing 426, also on Martial Solal Vol.1 (Vogue LD 200)
Tracks #5 & 6, from Swing 444, also on Martial Solal Vol.1 (Vogue LD 200)
Tracks #7 & 8, from Swing 445, also on Martial Solal Vol.1 (Vogue LD 200)
Tracks #9-16, from Martial Solal Vol.2 (Swing M.33.340)
Tracks #17-20, from Martial Solal (Vogue EPL 7137)

Sources CD 2:
Tracks #1-5, from Martial Solal (Columbia FPX 191)
Tracks #6-12, from Martial Solal Trio “Jazz à Gaveau”
(Columbia FPX 221)
Track # 13, from Martial Solal Trio “Frise I et II”
(Pathé Marcony ESDF 1430)

Personnel on CD 1:

Tracks #1-4: Martial Solal, piano; Pierre Michelot, bass; Pierre Lemarchand, drums.
Recorded in Paris, May, 16, 1953

Tracks #5-8: Martial Solal, piano; Jean-Marie Ingrand, bass; Jean-Louis Viale, drums.
Recorded in Paris, February 24, 1954

Tracks #9-12: Martial Solal, piano; Joe Benjamin, bass; Roy Haynes, drums.
Recorded in Paris, October 28, 1954

Tracks #13-16: Martial Solal, piano; Jean-Marie Ingrand, bass; Jean-Louis Viale, drums.
Recorded in Paris, November 9, 1954

Tracks #17-20: Martial Solal, piano; Benoît Quersin, bass; Jean-Louis Viale, drums.
Recorded in Paris, April 29, 1955

Personnel on CD 2:

Tracks #1-5: Martial Solal, piano; Guy Pedersen, bass; Daniel Humair, drums.
Recorded in Paris, July 18, 1960

Tracks #6-12: Same as #1-5
Recorded in Paris, live at Salle Gaveau, May 3, 1962

Track #13: Same as #1-12
Recorded in Paris, June 8, 1962

Original recording produced by Charles Delaunay and Jean-Paul Guiter
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol

Hi-Fi / Stereo · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.

Press reviews

"Martial Solal was born in Algiers in 1927, when the city was part of what was known then as French Algeria. At 6, he began taking piano lessons and for years played classical pieces. Then he discovered the extraordinary recordings of Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum, and turned to jazz.

Solal moved to Paris in 1950 and played with a variety of bands and combos. In April 1953, he recorded with Django Reinhardt on what would be the guitarist's last studio session. Reinhardt died a month later in May. Coincidentally, on the day Reinhardt passed, Solal was in the French Swing label's studio making his first trio recordings, with Pierre Michelot on bass and Pierre Lemarchand on drums.

These 1953 recordings and the rest of Solal's trio dates up until 1962 remain among my favorites by him. They are remarkable for his Bud Powellian speed and fluidity, his strong sense of swing and his swirling attack on the keyboard. These recordings can now be found on Martial Solal Trio: Complete Recordings 1953-1962 a two-CD set from Fresh Sound Records.

The bassist and drummer in Solal's trios were different on each session, yet the material from beginning to end is solid, alive and innovative. The 33 tracks on this set include standards and many gems, including Jimmy Raney's Signal and loads of originals, including Midi 1/4 and Farniente. In fact, virtually the entire second disc of recordings from 1960 to 1962 features his own compositions. Seven of them were recorded live at a Paris concert in '62.

If you're looking for an entry point for Solal, this is it. You can hear instantly what made him exceptional and you'll revel at the sound of his fingers working the keys like a bootblack with a cloth snapping away on a pair of shoes. The sound of Solal's piano is lyrical but it's also marvelously innovative and, most of all, physical.

Martial Solal is still with us at age 96."

—Marc Myers (December 21, 2023)

"Le label de Barcelone poursuit son indispensable réédition de l’œuvre enregistrée de Martial Solal, en solo, trio et avec orchestre, et dans ces années, elle est particulièrement captivante. On vous le répète: il y a chez Martial Solal une virtuosité et une invention dans cette période qui en fait le digne représentant en Europe de ce que le jazz a de meilleur dans le monde. Il est dans cette époque, sur le plan stylistique, un incroyable prolongement de deux des pianistes les plus prodigieux de l’histoire du jazz: Art Tatum et Bud Powell. L’effarante technique de Martial Solal et ses options esthétiques de l’époque, un environnement musical très dynamique où les musiciens du monde se retrouvent à Paris, lui permettent, du vivant de ces deux monstres sacrés du clavier, de rivaliser, sans fadeur et sans aucune servilité, avec ce que le piano jazz propose de plus virtuose, en solo ou en formation. Par son humour, sa personnalité, sa culture qui doit au jazz et à la musique classique, Martial Solal apporte une dimension personnelle à l’art pianistique, son expression étant alors plus proche musicalement de Bud Powell et du bebop, particulièrement en trio.

Charles Delaunay, qui a eu très tôt un goût prononcé pour les génies les plus insolites du jazz, a très vite perçu le caractère exceptionnel de Martial Solal, et le premier des deux CDs de cette réédition est consacré à la réédition des enregistrements pour Swing et Vogue que dirigeait alors Charles Delaunay. Les divers enregistrements réunissent de beaux trios européens, français et belge, mais aussi en 1954 une rythmique américaine de passage, Roy Haynes faisant d’ailleurs sa première couverture de Jazz Hot à cette occasion. Dans cette année 1953, qui verra la disparition du phare du jazz en France, Django Reinhardt, Martial Solal côtoie musicalement le regretté guitariste, mais également la diaspora belge dont Fats Sadi qui sera aussi sur le fameux enregistrement avec Django, Clifford Brown lors d’une jam session, à l’occasion de son passage dans l’orchestre de Lionel Hampton.

1955 est l’année des 20 ans de Jazz Hot,et Martial Solal est encore choisi par Charles Delaunay pour le concert anniversaire. Il obtient en 1955, le nouveau prix Django Reinhardt de la nouvelle Académie du jazz remis par Jean Cocteau. Martial Solal est déjà un musicien qui compte dans le jazz, et c’est l’âge d’or du jazz à Paris où le meilleur des musiciens belges de jazz s’est installé, avec Bobby Jaspar, Benoît Quersin, Fats Sadi. Martial Solal, dans ces enregistrements, est un digne émule de Bud Powell, il donne en particulier en trio, sur ce disque, parmi les plus beaux enregistrements que nous lui connaissons, avec une qualité d’invention, une profondeur sans pareille, et ce n’est pas qu’une question de virtuosité, mais bien d’époque, de tension de la musique et de nature de l’environnement: dans la session du 29 avril 1955 avec Benoît Quersin et Jean-Louis Viale, Martial Solal est prodigieux.

Si on retrouve la virtuosité, l’invention et l’humour de Martial Solal dans le second CD, enregistré au début des années 1960, on ne retrouve pas l’intensité musicale de la période 1953-55. La musique continue d’être excellente et brillante, mais on sent que l’atmosphère a déjà changé, et la musique s’en ressent, non par sa perfection formelle, mais par son esprit. Ce deuxième CD propose des enregistrements à l’origine publiés par Columbia. Martial Solal est maintenant un musicien reconnu. Il compose beaucoup, des musiques de films car c’est aussi l’âge d’or du jazz dans les musiques de film, et A bout de souffle de Jean-Luc Godard qui sort en 1960 est pour lui un tremplin vers la célébrité voire l’éternité alors que Martial Solal n’a que 33 ans!

Alors qu’en 1955, son répertoire est essentiellement constitué de standards et compositions du jazz américain, en 1960, Martial écrit la totalité de ses thèmes à l’exception du «Jordu» de Duke Jordan qui ouvre le live à Gaveau. Sans renier les qualités de compositeur de Martial Solal, les droits d’auteurs sont passés par là, et si le swing reste toujours surnaturel dans l’aisance rythmique de Martial Solal, le jazz de Martial Solal y perd un peu de ses racines, de son feu: l’accent blues et plus largement américain se dilue quelque peu au profit d’un langage plus savant mais moins libre paradoxalement. Si on écoute le «You Go to My Head» de 1955, on se demande si Martial Solal n’y est pas plus libre que sur ses propres compositions. On pourrait trouver quelques explications, mais il n’est pas certain que Martial Solal les partage lui-même. Le trio d’alors avec Guy Pedersen et Daniel Humair est techniquement parfait, la mise en place et la musique restent exceptionnelles et captivantes par la virtuosité même du maître du clavier.

Encore une réédition indispensable de cet excellent label du précieux Jordi Pujol dont on ne doute pas que Martial Solal soit l’un des artistes favoris."

—Yves Sportis
© Jazz Hot 2021

"One of the most creative pianists to come out of France was and still is Martial Solal, who’s found in his strongest setting, the trio, in this collection of studio and concert recordings on this two disc set. The studio trio sessions range from 1953-55 and are all set in Paris, with Solal in four completely different teams, which include Americans Joe Benjamin/b and Roy Hayne/dr from 1954 as well as Jean-Marie Ingrand or Pierre Michelot/b with Pierre Lemarchand or Jean-Louis Viale. Solal is spry and bouncy on “Dinah” and gives a bop take of “Just One Of Those Things” while his own “Midi ¼” is a cleverly arranged affair. Haynes and Benjamin snap Solal to attention on “The Way You Look Tonight” and are luscious for “Darn That Dream.”

From 1960, Solal teams up with GuyPedersen/b and Daniel Humair/dr for a handful of originals that feature a warm “Quin-Quin” a pretty “Bonsoir” and a sparkling “Middle Jazz.” With the same team he’s recorded in a concert in Paris, and except for the cleverly arranged take of Duke Jordan’s “Jordu” he keeps to his own songbook, and it’s impressive. The team bops on the crisp “No Smoking,” creates sharp angles on “Dermaplastic” and says to Pedersen’s bow on “Averty, ce’set Moi.” There’s plenty of room for soloing, but Solal frames them within original charts as deft and tasty as a green macaroon. The liner notes give plenty of info and perspective on this important artist."

George W. Harris (October 17, 2019)

“Arguably the greatest French jazz pianist (also a composer and big band leader), Martial Solal began his recording career in 1953, playing on Django Reinhardt’s last studio session. Born to French parents in Algiers on 23 August, 1927, he was encouraged by his mother, an opera singer, to play clarinet, saxophone and piano. In 1942 he was expelled from school with the Vichy regime’s endorsement of Nazi racial policies because of his father’s Jewish ancestry.

Martial began playing piano in public in 1945 and moved to Paris in 1950, forming his first quartet with trumpeter Roger Guerin, bassist Paul Rovere and drummer Daniel Humair. Versed in classical music – especially by composers Bartok, Stravinsky and Messiaen – his early jazz influences were Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Bud Powell and Bill Evans. Starting in the 1960s, Solal recorded or played with Don Byas, Lucky Thompson, Stan Getz and Kenny Clarke. In 1963 he appeared at the Hickory House in New York and was recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival (with bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Paul Motian). Starting in the 1980s he recorded with a big band, and released such notable albums as Sans Tambour Ni Trompette (1970), the solo albums Balade Du 10 Mars (1998), En Solo (1971), Bluesine (1983, Live At The Village Vanguard (2001), Rue De Seine (2005), Exposition Sans Tableau (2007) – with vocals by his daughter Claudia Solal – and Live At The Village Vanguard (2009).

That listing by no means exhausts Solal’s musical (and filmic) activities, which still continue. They do, however, contrast with the absence from most reference works of his recording activities with various trios from 1953-1962. This Fresh Sound compilation is therefore a welcome (and overdue) addition to his discography.

A collection of studio and “live” recordings, all set in Paris, it sheds new light on Solal’s development as a composer, small-group leader and virtuoso soloist. As Richard Cook noted, there are few jazz pianists “whose dedication to the piano/bass/drums trinity have yielded such riches over such an extended period”. From the beginning, Solal’s objective was to play bop (he was an admirer of Bird and Diz), but he gradually formed his own style of playing, searching for new harmonies because, as he has said “to me evolution is the first and most important thing”.

A fleet-fingered and highly intelligent player, Solal was described by Downbeat critic John A. Tynan as combining “the blinding technique of Tatum with the boppish conception of [Bud] Powell. The combination is most salutary”. The 33 tracks on this set confirm the acuity of Tynan’s assessment.

The earliest ones (despite sounding as if they were recorded under water) reveal a Garner-influenced Solal putting all his energies into miniature (none over three minutes) recreations of such standards as Once In A While, Dinah, Darn That Dream, and Ramona. Michelot and Lemarchand provide more than adequate support. With the backing of Jean-Marie Ingrand and Jean-Louis Viale, Solal fashions dazzling renditions of Poinciana and Pennies From Heaven. With visiting Americans Joe Benjamin and Roy Haynes, he puts an increasingly distinctive stamp on such favourites as You Stepped Out Of A Dream and The Way You Look Tonight. The other titles on CD1 also deserve attention.

On CD2, the performances recorded between 1960 and 1962, with Pedersen on bass and Humair on drums, are even more rewarding. A witty and extended (seven-minute) live version of Jordu has Solal in full flight, plus six of his own compositions, including a time-shifting and intriguingly titled Nos Smoking. The final (and at over nine minutes the longest) cut is another Solal original, Suite Pour Un Frise Part I & II. Written to commemorate the unveiling in Brussels of a frieze by artist Raf Cleeremans, it hints at even more complex and haunting compositions that were still to emerge from the fertile musical imagination of Martial Solal. An informative essay by Jordi Pujol and attractive photographs enhance this rewarding set. Recommended.”

John White (December 28, 2019)


14,95 €  (tax incl.)

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