René Thomas (g), Herman Sandy (tp), Jacques Pelzer (as), Bobby Jaspar (ts, fl), Jean Fanis, Jack Diéval, Amedeo Tommasi, Joël Vandroogenbroeck (p), Jimmy Smith (org), Paul Dubois, Bob Roach, Jacques Hess, Benoit Quersin (b), George Braxton, Daniel Humair, Jose Bourguignon, Franco Manzecchi, Donald Bailey (d)
Reference: FSRCD 993
Bar code: 8427328609937
Rare and unreleased performances by the legendary jazz guitarist
René Thomas (1927-1975) was considered the best European jazz guitarist of his generation by fellow musicians and critics, but his career was marred by the pervasive skepticism of jazz fans. Despite trying hard to carve his own space, he never obtained the recognition he deserved for his immense talent, perhaps because of his introverted character and prolonged withdrawals from the scene.
Shy and taciturn by nature —always entrenched behind a pair of thick portho— Thomas became authoritative and convincing as soon as he picked his guitar. That’s when this unique jazzman truly shined. With a deep, rich sound and absolute control of his instrument, he was always at ease, delicately distilling the most difficult passages in a simple, straight-forward manner. In the 45 years that have gone by since his death, René Thomas has become a legend, and although today he enjoys worldwide respect and admiration, he is still often underrated in comparison with other great guitarists. This album is a humble homage to this guitar genius.
"Well known in France, guitarist René Thomas’s reputation didn’t get much traction in the US, but his playing is on a par with the likes of Herb Ellis and Kenny Burrell. There’s even a dash of Grant Green on some of these obscure sessions ranging from 1955-1962, and while the recording sound quality sometimes varies, the music stays consistently hot on this two disc set.
Thomas displays his bop chops and loyalty from the get go, here, with a Brussels outing in ’55 showing clean lines on mid tempo pieces like “Motion” and a melodic “There Will Never Be Another You” while alto saxist Jacques Pelzer gives some Bird calls on “Lover Man”. Thomas sounds most comfortable on some trio sessions from concerts in 1960-1961, stretching out on an ultra hip “Blue Train” and giving more uptemp reads of “Motion” while the original “Milestones” is cool and suave. Thomas dos some Grant Greenish rolls on a relaxed “All Mornin’ Long” and teams with Bobby Jaspar On Flute an dJacques Hess/b with Franco Manzechi/dr for asubli me read of “It Could Happen To You”.
The second disc has Jasper on flute and tenor as he co-leads a quintet with Thomas on another take of “Milestones” featuring warm tenor tones. For a 1962 radio-TV broadcast, the twon lead a bopping team on “Oleo” and nifty Thomas original “I Remember Sonny”. Thomas leads a quartet at an Antibes Jazz festival in 1962 and bops to a rapid runner in “Our Delight” and sizzles on “Au Privave”. At the same festival, Hammond B3er Jimmy Smith comes in with his drummer Donald Bailey for an impromptu “Blues” that is as good as any vintage Blue Note Session, with the guitarist shows his acoustic tone on an intimate “Stardust.”
The liner notes give an excellent perspective on Thomas’ career, and the session listing must have been done by Sherlock Holmes. Don’t overlook this guy!"
George W. Harris (September 7, 2020)
No customer reviews yet. Login to leave your impressions!