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Jacques Loussier

Jacques Loussier was born in Angers, in northwestern France, October 26, 1934. He started playing piano at the age of ten and quickly demonstrated tremendous ability. When Loussier was just sixteen, he entered the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique in Paris where he studied with Professor Yves Nat whose youthful compositions were praised by Faure and Saint-Saëns, and whose prodigious gifts as a pianist were encouraged by Debussy. Continuing this distinguished lineage, Loussier was to become one of Nat’s most accomplished pupils, heading the conservatory’s piano class of over five hundred students before leaving to commence a freelance career that included travels to South America and the Middle East as well as work as accompanist for Catherine Sauvage and Charles Aznavour.

In 1959, Loussier hit upon the idea that was to make his international reputation, combining his interest in jazz with his love of J.S. Bach. Only a pianist with such an exceptional classical technique and deft improvisatory skill could have nurtured such a vision. He founded the Play Bach Trio, which used Bach’s compositions as the basis for jazz improvisation. The trio immediately caught the public imagination. In their live appearances, tours and concerts, plus a succession of recordings built on the cornerstone of four albums made for Decca between 1960 and 1963, Loussier’s group achieved a breakthrough to popular commercial success enjoyed by only a select few jazz musicians. In fifteen years, the trio sold over six million albums.

During its heyday, the trio broadened the range of its experiments with Loussier double tracking some pieces on organ and piano and, later, recording some of his arrangements of Bach’s concerti with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. However, after years on the road, like many popular commercial groups, the original trio reached the end of its natural life in 1978. In 1980, Loussier retired to his home in Provence to compose, research and record. He had already dabbled in film and ballet composition, and had established his own recording studio at Miraval, not far from Nice, where in addition to composing his own pieces for acoustic and electronic instruments, he played host to many recording stars of the rock world including Pink Floyd, Elton John, Sting and Yes. In fact, segments of Pink Floyd’s The Wall were recorded at Loussier’s studio.

Loussier’s own music in the 1980s explored the integration of new technology with conventional instruments, just as his 1950s experiments explored the ground between jazz and classics. He produced suites for piano, synthesizers, percussion and bass, and some rock-jazz-classical fusion works including Pulsions, Pagan Moon and Fusions Sous La Mer.

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