Louis Mazetier

Tributes, Portraits and Other Stories

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In the 21st century there are relatively few active pianists who specialize in stride piano, though French pianist Louis Mazetier, a radiologist whose ability to tour has been limited, is one of the top stride stylists in Europe. Prior to this record date, he had recorded a pair of releases for Stomp Off and a duo date with stride master Dick Hyman, but he's solo for this outing. He romps through James P. Johnson's "You've Got to Be Modernistic" and displays a bit of Art Tatum-like flourishes in his treatment of "Tea for Two," though his stride-oriented interpretation of the latter piece is at a far more relaxed tempo. It's also great to hear a forgotten gem like the lyrical "Sneakaway" by stride great Willie "The Lion" Smith. There are plenty of standards, including an upbeat stride setting of "Just You, Just Me" that suggests the late Ralph Sutton's influence, along with a dreamy "Skylark" that glistens. Mazetier's originals are memorable, too. "Simply the Blues" is a relaxed, subtle tribute to Tatum that conveys Tatum's blues chops in a reserved manner. "Portrait of a Portraitist" is a playful salute to Duke Ellington in the mold of the bandleader's tribute to Willie "The Lion" Smith. Mazetier's four-part "Significant Ladies Suite" is a diverse, entertaining affair.

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