Jacques Loussier / Jacques Loussier Trio

The Bach Book: 40th Anniversary Album

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There's something ironic about the attraction jazz musicians all seem to feel for the work of J.S. Bach. It's not that jazz and classical music aren't related -- on the contrary, jazz itself is a fusion of the rhythmic complexity of African music and the harmonic complexity of European music -- it's that Bach's particular genius was for counterpoint, a technique that jazz largely ignores. You can't improvise without abandoning strict counterpoint, and yet to depart from Bach's contrapuntal structures is, often, to disembowel his music. So there's a certain tension in the air when jazz players take on Bach. All of that said, there's simply no denying the charm of Loussier's trio arrangements. This program opens with "Prelude No. 1 in C Major" (from The Well-Tempered Clavier), then moves to the fifth "Brandenburg Concerto" (all three movements), "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," the gavotte movement from the D major orchestral suite, and then the three movements of the D major harpsichord concerto. Sometimes the arrangements sound a bit forced; the drumbeat Andre Arpino imposes on the opening movement of the Brandenburg sounds particularly clunky. But for the most part Loussier pulls off this risky experiment with taste and obvious delight. Recommended.

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