Claude Bolling / Jean-Pierre Rampal

Claude Bolling: Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio

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Jean-Pierre Rampal may never get down and dirty on this album, considered "his first jazz recording," but the music is nonetheless infectious, breezy, playful, and crystal clear. The legendary flutist is so technically accomplished that anything too "swinging" from him seems a bit stiff, but this is where drummer Marcel Sabiani, bassist Mel Young, and legendary jazz pianist (and friend of Duke Ellington) Claude Bolling take over, all making these compositions seem jazzier than they are on paper. As an example, both "Baroque and Blue" and "Sentimentale" flirt with the morning air, with themes that somewhat separate Rampal's fluttering passages from all the hipster riffs. Track for track, note for note, there is nothing substandard about these "clazzical" hybrids. "Fugace" is a great countermelody express elevator, delightful in its energy and polish. "Javanaise" takes it slow enough for Charlie Brown to waltz about on the ice-skating rink. "Versatile" is a bouncy little trapeze act on the bass flute, and "Véloce" is a fantastic race to the wedding altar, a fantastic balance of tension and release, a nail-biter, a Buster Keaton melodrama, a cream pie in the face, and a precise exclamation mark to close the album. Here and there, Bolling and company manage to get Rampal to loosen his tie. Slightly. It's not quite jazz, but it's still spellbinding music.

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