150

Martial Solal: Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love

By

Sign in to view read count
Martial Solal: Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love "Tonight is a very important night because we recording the show. I have to be good and you have to be good too," Solal jokes to his Village Vanguard audience in New York, but it would not be surprising if the pianist felt some pressure. The few appearances that Solal has made in the US are startling, considering that he is one of the greatest pianists in the history of Jazz.

Solal, born Algiers in 1927, has worked most of his life in Paris with a varied cast of collaborators, including Hampton Hawes, Lee Konitz, Johnny Griffin, and Django Reinhardt—even Sidney Bechet. He has written for films, his soundtrack of Jean Luc Godard's Breathless (1960) being his best-known. Captured on October 12, 2007, Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love is solo Solal, the best way to experience the pianist as he does not really need anyone else.

Like the stand-up comedian, the solo pianist has to be brave, as there is nowhere to hide. Part of Solal's bravery is the use of standards; rather than hiding his improvising, he uses tunes familiar to his audience. Many will realize the structure, understanding where he is going and how ingenious he is being. One of Solal's main delights is his variation on a theme, the extent and creativity of his improvisations made crystal clear. Solal delivers a standard like "Loverman" as an intricately wrapped present with tantalizing clues to its identity. He is an illusionist who, once he reveals the subject of an improvisation, continues to astound. Breaking a composition up into a mosaic that he then reharmonizes, the left hand assumes a walking bass line as the right hand turns heated, before Solal sets off into a maze of his own making, not unlike a Debussy prelude.

Intelligent, and with a formidable technique, Solal's work has not changed greatly since his first recordings in the fifties. The obvious comparison is with Art Tatum, though Solal's European sensibility is preferable to Tatum's variations on standards—which, though technically dazzling, are obvious, formulaic and rarely surprising. Solal approach is concert hall rather than bar room: these are almost classical variations. He is detached, taking delight in his own conceits; detachment that can seem cold, but Solal is not an emotional musician but is, instead, a calculating improviser.

Solal does not really want an audience; instead, he wants accomplices with a sense of humor. One of the surprising things about this session is the laughter—not from verbal jokes, but from musical ones; it suddenly becomes clear that jazz rarely makes people laugh—smile, sometimes, but "Have You Met Miss Jones" both starts and finishes with laughter. The skittish figure that Solal begins with seems to imply that "Miss Jones" is a feisty young woman.

As with all Solal's solo sets, Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love is about improvisation, daring, wit, embellishment, risk, cleverness, excellence, fun and, above all, brilliance.

Track Listing: Intro 1; On Green Dolphin Street; Lover Man; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Centre De Gravite; Ramage; 'Round Midnight; Have You Met Miss Jones; The Last Time I Saw Paris; Intro 2; Corcovado.

Personnel: Martial Solal: piano.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: CAM Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Welcome to Swingsville! CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Points of View CD/LP/Track Review Points of View
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Migration Blues CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 26, 2017
Read N.O. Escape CD/LP/Track Review N.O. Escape
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Unfolding In Tempo" CD/LP/Track Review Unfolding In Tempo
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Paris
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Ashé" CD/LP/Track Review Ashé
by James Nadal
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "Funk 'n' Feathers" CD/LP/Track Review Funk 'n' Feathers
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!