Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

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 Umbrella Weather CD/LP/Track Review Umbrella Weather
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 24, 2017
Read Born In An Urban Ruin CD/LP/Track Review Born In An Urban Ruin
by John Sharpe
Published: January 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs) CD/LP/Track Review Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 24, 2017
Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "In Movement" CD/LP/Track Review In Movement
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 4, 2016
Read "Live In Ludwigshafen 1961" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Ludwigshafen 1961
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2016
Read "Trajectoire" CD/LP/Track Review Trajectoire
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: March 16, 2016
Read "And to the Republic" CD/LP/Track Review And to the Republic
by Mark F. Turner
Published: October 12, 2016
Read "A Zoology of the Future" CD/LP/Track Review A Zoology of the Future
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 31, 2016
Read "Mundo" CD/LP/Track Review Mundo
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!