Henri Crolla

Jazz in Paris: Quand Refleuriront Les Lilas Blancs

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This compilation collects two sessions from 1955 by guitarist Henri Crolla, a talented but quirky musician whose behavior rivaled the late Django Reinhardt, even if he was not as advanced a player as the legendary Gypsy. The first six tracks feature pianist Martial Solal (who recorded under the pseudonym Lalos Bing), bassist Emmanuel Soudieux, and drummer Jacques David, with the band exploring a number of popular French songs in a rather subdued bop setting, along with standards like "Have You Met Miss Jones?" and "I Only Have Eyes for You." The routine is fairly set, with Crolla's understated solos followed by a brief chorus from Solal and none of the tunes stretching much beyond the two-minute mark. The remaining seven selections have Maurice Vander taking over on piano and tenor saxophonist Maurice Meunier (vibraphonist Michel Hausser is listed as present on all tracks but is not audible on any of them), with the group focusing exclusively on American standards and one bop favorite. Fortunately this group is able to stretch out a bit more, with Crolla showing off his chops a bit more and Meunier switching to clarinet for several cuts, highlighted by the brisk, playful renditions of "Sweet Georgian Brown" and Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite." Like many artists in the Universal Music Jazz in Paris reissue series, Henri Crolla may not be a familiar name to many jazz fans, but his music is well worth exploring.

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