Jacques Loussier – Encore!
(Telarc – 2007)
by Paula Edelstein
The 1980s were in many respects the most most interesting decade in Jacques Loussier’s musical development. For the first five years he stayed very much out of the public eye, focusing on writing and recording in the wilds of Provence, France. In that time he rethought his musical direction and emerged from the chrysalis of seclusion as a more complete and original musician. He led his original Play Bach Trio from the 1950s right through to the very end of the 1970s, and then decided that it was time for a break from giving 150 concerts a year.
That early trio was a European institution, with bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Christian Garros pacing Jacques’ piano-led excursions into combining J.S. Bach with jazz rhythms, and they sold the best part of six million albums! The jazzier end of the repertoire was heavily indebted to Jacques’ enthusiasm for the playing of John Lewis and Keith Jarrett, and conformed to the general idea of bebop era improvisation. Jacques was coaxed away on the occasion of Bach’s tercentenary in 1985 and formed a new trio which is featured on his latest release for Telarc titled ENCORE! JACQUES LOUSSIER PLAYS BACH.
Born in Angers, in northwestern France on October 26, 1934, Jacques Loussier started playing piano at the age of ten and quickly demonstrated tremendous ability. He entered the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique de Paris at 16 where he studied with Professor Yves Nat whose youthful compositions were praised by Faure and Saint-Saens, and whose prodigious gifts as a pianist were encouraged by Debussy. After commencing his freelance career, Loussier hit upon the idea that was to make his international reputation – combining his interest in jazz with his love of J.S. Bach.
JACQUES LOUSSIER PLAYS BACH debuted in 1996. His next recording, VIVALDI’S FOUR SEASONS, unlocked a new vein of creativity and self-discovery, in which Loussier searched for a deeper level of exploration altogether. He followed up this excursion with JACQUES LOUSSIER PLAYS SATIE, a look at the founding father of French minimalism. His exceptional 1999 release, RAVEL’S BOLERO, explored Loussier’s very personal connection to the work of the French impressionists. In 2000, Loussier tackled the monumental GOLDBERG VARIATIONS, in honor of the 250th anniversary of the death of J.S. Bach. In 2006, the maestro released BACH: THE BRANDENBURGS, a jazz interpretation of Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos. ENCORE! JACQUES LOUSSIER PLAYS BACH released in October 2007 is a two-disc set that includes recordings from the early 1990s – the period immediately following Loussier’s lengthy hiatus. The set spotlights his numerous strengths as a jazz innovator and classical composer.