I grew up listening to Jacques Loussier Trio Play Bach, my dad had all the volumes, plus the Brandenburg Concerto Vol 1 and 2. All favorites of mine and conduit to Jazz, Classical and even progressive rock appreciation. But the Goldberg Variations are special. If you like the straight classical variations or if you love Bill Evans or Dave Brubeck or even Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman you will love this Jazz on Classical arrangement. The Trio is flawless and Jacques Loussier piano playing is superb.
French pianist Jacques Loussier has done something worthy of highest praise: a lovingly rendered jazz reading of J.S. Bach's well-known "Goldberg Variations." Vivid, tight, always suprising, this rearticulation of Bach's material in the idiom of jazz is as much a translation as it is an interpretation. Loussier and his colleagues Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac on the bass and André Arpino on drums not only had the nerve to trip the fantatic in these hallowed precincts with verve and dash, but they had the gall to make it swing! Loussier's renditions of the piano lines betray a virtuoso's acquaintance with the original, the kind of intimate knowledge that allows playful departure. And the Trio's radical recastings--for example the imposition of a merengue beat below, with Latin syncopation in the upper voice--are always faithful both to the source's well-known structure and to the trio's well-rehearsed intentions. It is SO French: on the one hand flagrantly intellectual, the cool mind dissecting Bach's thoroughly cerebral architecture, analyzing and recasting it in fine fluid form, on the other a familiar lover's labor of unmistakable admiration and knowing love, done with a touch that for all its care and preparation still manages to impart delicious spontaneities. And yet Loussier's treatment stands on its own as a musical statement, quite aside from its obvious tribute to the ever present shade of the Kapellmeister of Dresden. My twelve-year-old twin daughters have only the briefest of acquaintance with Bach's original work, yet immediately connected with the fluent insinuations of Loussier's rendition, grinning from ear to ear at the ready audacity of it. They had earlier enjoyed the Loussier Trio's haunting jazz treatment of Erik Satie's "Gymnopédies," another successful jazz translation, but in an entirely different vein. The trio has also issued jazz treatments of Ravel's "Bolero" and Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Certain Bach purists will no doubt cringe at the notion of such treatment: I say let them do without! And Mrs. Grundy may not like it--but then she's still upset with Bach for fathering so many children! Bach himself could be trusted to accept this delectable homage and maybe suggest more riffs to give it added . . . what do the French say? . . . Panâche!
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As usual, Jacques Loussier, adding bass and drums to Bach, adds another dimension that I'm sure Bach himself would enjoy! Combining these incomparably beautiful, meditative melodies and chords with the Loussier Trio's cool jazz bass & drums is great to hear, any place/anytime. I like to play this at work ... it keeps me motivated. But it's also good for background at cocktail parties.
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The Jacques Loussier Trio captures an entirely new audience for Bach's work with the variation of his Variations. I've always enjoyed them as they were, but this takes it to another level...and invites another level of appreciation for the timelessness of brilliant music...for any age, in any generation.