Jacques Diéval

Jazz aux Champs-Elysees

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The very reasonable mid-line pricing of Universal Music's Jazz in Paris series make it affordable to try out for jazz fans to explore the works of unfamiliar European artists. Pianist Jacques Diéval was well known for his French radio program Jazz aux Champs-Elysées (which ran from 1954 to 1976, featuring performing guests such as a young Jean-Luc Ponty and the late Eric Dolphy), though he also recorded a good bit as a leader. The first of two studio sessions on this compilation finds Diéval leading a sextet of French all-stars, including tenor saxophonist Guy Lafitte, baritone saxophonist Michel de Villers, guitarist Sacha Distel, bassist Paul Rovère, and drummer Christian Garros. Their program borrows heavily from the repertoire of American big bands, including "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid" (used as a opening theme but listed oddly titled as "Indicatif"), a spirited "Jumpin' at the Woodside," a mellow "Solitude," and a swinging treatment of "In a Mellow Tone." The two saxophonists get the lion's share of solo space, with Distel occasionally featured as well. A second session features Diéval with an unidentified rhythm section playing three little-known compositions and a brisk but elegant rendition of "Tenderly."

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