Composer/pianist Jacques Loussier became well known in the ‘50s for his jazz interpretations of the classical scores of J.S. Bach. After a self-imposed hiatus in the early ‘80s, he returned to playing Bach with a new trio to celebrate the composer’s tercentenary in 1985; in 1991, the fruits of this latter day approach were recorded on Encore. Joined by bassist Vincent Charbonnier and drummer Andre Arpino, Loussier presents several of Bach’s most beloved pieces in breezy, accessible jazz transcriptions.
Bach has long been a favorite of jazz musicians from Brubeck to Swingle. Louissier’s renditions of the Little Fugue in G minor, the Partita in B-flat Major and several keyboard concerti are more adroit and affectionate rather than revelatory, but they make clear the affinities between bebop performance styles and Baroque linear counterpoint. Particularly fine is the crisply and rhythmically suave delivery of the fugue and Loussier’s imaginative treatment of the Partita’s dance movements.
This Telarc “two-fer” reissue features Loussier’s own compositions on its second disc. The Concerto for Violin and Percussion combines jazz mannerisms with the language and episodic nature of mainstream contemporary cinema scores. The piece features a lovely tango as its third movement and a sprightly finale entitled “Tokyo”. “Tableau Venitiens” is an effective, if uninspiring, work for string orchestra. Guy Touvron brings a liquid tone and vibrant articulation to bear on Loussier’s Concerto for Trumpet. Loussier is more a craftsman than a trailblazer, but both his Bach renditions and original compositions are pleasing, eminently tasteful crossover creations.