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Maurice Vander: Piano Jazz

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Maurice Vander
Paris after World War II was awash in jazz pianists. Many of them were raised in musical families. Others studied music in school. The reason they were in Paris was for the steady club work. Paris also was where the French record companies were based. The list of French jazz pianists in the late 1940s and '50s included Bernard Peiffer, André Persiany, Raymond Fol, Claude Bolling, Michel Legrand, Eddie Bernard, Henri Renaud, Martial Solal, René Urtreger, Jack Diéval, Léo Chauliac and many others. Among the most polished of the bebop stylists was Maurice Vander.

Born just outside of Paris, Vander was captivated at an early age by his father and older brother's abilities on the accordion. Vander began playing the instrument at age 13 but soon moved on to the classical piano. But Radio-Paris broadcasts of American jazz pianists, particularly Art Tatum, filled his imagination. By 1948, Vander played his first jazz gig at the Bie Hop club in Paris.

His first recording was a live date in a group with guitarist Django Reinhardt. Studio recordings for Blue Star and Vogue with Don Byas followed in 1951, but Vander's early-1950s career was spent mostly with Reinhardt. In 1954, he recorded with flutist and saxophonist Bobby Jaspar and guitarist Jimmy Raney. His first leadership recording was a trio session in 1955 with Benoit Quersin (b) and Jacques David (d) for the Vega label.

As Fresh Sound's Maurice Vander: Piano Jazz, Trio Sessions (Fresh Sound) illustrates, Vander was a bop player with plenty of daring and polish. The album features Vander's 1955 10-inch albums, Piano Jazz, as well as his 12-inch Piano for Dance in 1961, with Pierre Michelot (b) and Kenny Clarke (d). What you notice immediately with Vander is his elegance and hip panache. American songbook standards receive a lyrical and swinging club sound. In this regard, Vander will remind you of Erroll Garner and Al Haig, who could move effortlessly from bop to pop and often did so in the same song. According to Wikipedia, Monsieur Vander is still with us.

Here's Our Love Is Here to Stay in 1961...

“ rel="noopener" target="_blank">And here's Vander playing organ in 1963, with bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Christian Garros...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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