Jacques Loussier has made a career out of playing classical themes in a jazz setting. Born in France in 1934, he came to fame in the late 1950s with his Play Bach Trio, a group that stayed together 20 years, transforming the themes of Bach into creative and melodic jazz. Since then he has put together another trio in which he interprets not just the music of Bach but Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel, Satie and other classical giants. This set (which is subtitled Impressions on Chopin's Nocturnes) is a bit of a departure in that Loussier performs Frédéric Chopin's 21 nocturnes as unaccompanied piano solos. Nocturne No. 2 in E-Flat Major, Op, 9., No. 2 is the most famous of these melodies although a few of the other nocturnes may be familiar even to non-classical listeners. Generally Loussier states the right-hand melody while altering the patterns written for the left-hand, and then builds from there. The essence of Chopin's music is retained while Loussier is free to improvise his own ideas based on the themes. Most of his interpretations are gentle and subtle while never neglecting the rich melodies, and the treatments are at times slightly reminiscent of early film music and ragtime. Classical purists may not love this approach but they should be thankful, for Jacques Loussier has consistently introduced the beauty of classical music to jazz listeners. This is a very enjoyable set.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
|Impressions on Chopin's Nocturnes, for piano|