Raymond Fol (p), Roger Guerin, Nunzio Rotondo, Donald Byrd, Maurice Thomas, Ivan Jullien (tp), Hubert Fol (as), Enzo Scoppa (ts), Sacha Distel (g), Michel Finet, Pierre Michelot, Gilbert “Bibi” Rovère, Michel Gaudry, Alby Cullaz, Luigi Trussardi (b), Jean-Baptiste “Mac Kac” Reilles, Kenny Clarke, Gilberto Cupini, Christian Garros, Philippe Combelle, Charles Bellonzi, Art Taylor, René Nan (d), Annie Fratellini (vcl)
Bar code: 8427328611244
Looking back, 44 years after the passing of pianist Raymond Fol (1928-1979), it ishard to understand why neither in life nor after his death was he recognized as he deserved. It is only possible to think that perhaps it was because of his modesty and discretion that Raymond never became as famous as other French pianists of his generation.
Compared to the many excellent recordings of his as a sideman during the 1950s —the golden age of jazz in France— his discography as a leader was reduced to a single EP which evidently did not help him achieve the same status as such pianists as Martial Solal, René Urtreger, Maurice Vander, or Henri Renaud, to name a few. Despite everything, we can say that Raymond Fol was a respected and admired musician, both by critics and fans, but little valued by the record companies of those years. His melodic yet swinging style meshed equally with traditional, mainstream, and modern jazz artists, always with exquisite elegance and good taste. This double CD presents a series of recordings, most of them previously unissued, which allow us to rediscover several of the facets that characterized his striking and expressive personality.
As Michel Laverdure wrote in JazzMagazine: “It is important that those who love jazz never forget Raymond Fol.”
"I really liked Raymond, his subtle playing, his sensitivity, a very good pianist. I knew his brother Hubert a little better, an excellent saxophonist very influenced by Parker. A family of musicians. I was able to see Raymond one last time in his hospital room, some time before his disappearance. He was one of the five or six good pianists capable, at the time, of sitting on the famous stool of the Club St. Germain."
—Martial Solal, January 2023
"Raymond Fol (1928-79) was one of France’s top jazz pianists but he remains largely unknown in the United States. The obscurity is probably due to his ability to adapt himself to many different settings as a sideman, and the relatively few recordings that he led in his early years. This double-CD from the Fresh Sound label (www.freshsoundrecords.com) could help change that situation a little.
Fol, whose older brother was altoist Hubert Fol, recorded Dixieland standards on his first recordings in 1946 with clarinetist Claude Abadie’s band. However by 1948 he was a member of Hubert Fol’s Be Bop Minstrels, one of the first important French jazz groups to explore bop. By 1950, the pianist was in demand by visiting American artists and he recorded on dates led by Ernie Royal, Johnny Hodges, Josh White, James Moody, and Roy Eldridge. He worked with Django Reinhardt during 1951-52 and then really showed his versatility by following a stint with Dizzy Gillespie with a long association with Sidney Bechet and Claude Luter. In 1955 Fol worked with both Lionel Hampton and Chet Baker.
One would think that all of that activity would result in Raymond Fol recording frequently as a leader, but the opposite occurred, probably due to him being so busy during the era. Other than four numbers made in 1950 (and reissued elsewhere), the only studio session that Fol led prior to 1971 (not counting an orchestra set in 1965) was a four-song EP in 1956 that featured him in a trio. Remembering Raymond Fol, which begins with the EP’s music, augments that set with two songs on which he accompanies singer Annie Fratellini, four numbers from dates led by Italian trumpeter Nunzio Rotondo, and a variety of mostly previously unreleased radio and television appearances from 1957-67.
Producer Jordi Pujol has done a great service to the musical legacy of Raymond Fol in compiling this set. In addition to the trio numbers, the pianist is featured in quintets (one number includes trumpeter Donald Byrd) and with an intriguing septet. The latter, which is from 1967, has Fol joined by three trumpeters, cello, bass, and drums, performing six of his compositions. Having evolved from Dixieland and swing through bop and hard bop, Fol had also developed into an inventive and somewhat adventurous composer, one whose pieces challenged his sidemen.
While he would lead several albums during 1971-76 (mostly as a solo pianist), the music on Rediscovering Raymond Fol is definitive and shows what a major if unsung talent he was during his prime years."
—Scott Yanow (April, 2023)
Los Angeles Jazz Scene
"It is sometime startling at the plethora of excellent pianists that got lost in the wake of the 50s and 60s. It’s easy to understand, as modern jazz was losing its audience to a thing called rock and roll (as well as folk), and that combined with being a European almost guaranteed anonymity. Too bad, because Raymond Fol (1928-1978) was an impressive pianist, having done stints with Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Django reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli, to name just a few. His touch gives hints of Bud Powell, John Lewis and Russ Freeman, and this two disc collection gives American ears a second chance to appreciate this Gallic wonder.
Most of the formats are in trio settings, and he shows impressive styling and swig on Miles Davis’ “Tune Up” and melodicism on John Lewis’ “Afternoon In Paris.” He does a penetrating take of Duke Ellington’s “Melancholia” and bounces to Randy Weston’s “Little Niles”. His own material is clever and swing, such as “Ro-man-no” and a handful of “Unknown” pieces that feel spontaneous and fresh. There are also a few small group settings, as Fol more than holds his own with trumpeter Donald Byrd and Art Taylor/dr on a hard bopping “Hush” and sounding West Coast breezy with drummer Kenny Clarke and vocalist Annie Fratellini on “It Had To Be You”. Also intriguing is a septet concert of Fol’s own material, with trumpeters Roger Guérin, Maurice Thomas and Ivan Jullien trading off on muscular pieces like “Where Is Salvador” and a bold “Tristan” and stretching out on “Andox”. This guy had bebop in his bones!"
—George W. Harris (April 10, 2023)