Martial Solal

Contrastes: The Jazzpar Prize

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This recording commemorates French/Algerian pianist Martial Solal's receipt in 1999 of the prestigious JAZZPAR Prize issued each year in Denmark. It is hard to think of a more fitting winner. The unsung Solal is one of the world's greatest pianists and arrangers, and this recording is another feather in his long road to success. Solal's remarkable trio (Solal, piano; Mads Vinding, string bass; Daniel Humair, drums) performs on all eight pieces (all written by the artist, with the exception of "Summertime"), with the polished and accomplished Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra also playing on five. For anyone who enjoys modern jazz piano improvisation and complex, exciting big band arrangements -- or who simply wants to savor the work of Martial Solal -- this recording will be a treat. Like Duke Ellington, his instrument is not just his fingers but also his entire orchestra. His harmonies and rhythms connote grandness, if not greatness, as Solal's sweeping breadth crosses cultural boundaries without ever pandering to cliché. His section parts, particularly for trombone, are layered and complex, but like his other work, always accessible.

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