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Jacques Loussier (Piano, Arranger)

Born: October 26, 1934 - Angers, France

The French pianist/composer, Jacques Loussier, started playing piano at the age of 10 and quickly demonstrated tremendous ability. When Loussier was just 16, he entered the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique in Paris where he studied with Professor Yves Nat whose youthful compositions were praised by Gabriel Fauré, Camille Saint-Saëns and and Debussy, and whose prodigious gifts as a pianist were encouraged by Debussy. Continuing this distinguished lineage, Loussier was to become one of Natís most accomplished pupils, heading the conservatoryís piano class of over five hundred students.

In the late 1950's Jacques Loussier left the Conservatoire to commence a freelance career that included travels to South America and the Middle East as well as work as accompanist for Catherine Sauvage and Charles Aznavour. In 1959, Loussier hit upon the idea that was to make his international reputation, combining his interest in jazz with his love of J.S. Bach. Only a pianist with such an exceptional classical technique and deft improvisatory skill could have nurtured such a vision. He founded the Play Bach Trio, which used J.S. Bachís compositions as the basis for jazz improvisation. The trio immediately caught the public imagination. In their live appearances, tours and concerts, plus a succession of recordings built on the cornerstone of four albums made for Decca between 1960 and 1963, Loussierís group achieved a breakthrough to popular commercial success enjoyed by only a select few jazz musicians. In 15 years, the trio sold over six million albums.

During its heyday, the trio broadened the range of its experiments with Jacques Loussier double tracking some pieces on organ and piano and, later, recording some of his arrangements of J.S. Bachís concerti with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. However, after years on the road, like many popular commercial groups, the original trio reached the end of its natural life in 1978. In 1980, Loussier retired to his home in Provence to compose, research and record. He had already dabbled in film and ballet composition, and had established his own recording studio at Miraval, not far from Nice, where in addition to composing his own pieces for acoustic and electronic instruments, he played host to many recording stars of the rock world including Pink Floyd, Elton John, Sting and Yes. In fact, segments of Pink Floydís The Wall were recorded at Loussierís studio. Loussier's own music in the 1980's explored the integration of new technology with conventional instruments, just as his 1950's experiments explored the ground between jazz and classics. He produced suites for piano, synthesizers, percussion and bass, and some rock-jazz-classical fusion works including Pulsions, Pagan Moon and Fusions Sous La Mer.

The tercentenary of J.S. Bachís birth in 1985 coaxed Jacques Loussier back to the trio format, and he re-formed the Play Bach Trio with two new partners. He feels his new trio has far more stylistic range than its predecessor, and whereas that was a pioneer group, the latter-day trio combines jazz, rock and contemporary classical ideas with a mix of jazz and J.S. Bach. The trio keeps up a busy touring schedule, traveling annually in Japan and the UK as well as in Loussier's native France. It also appears regularly in Germany, Spain and Italy. Loussier leaves plenty of room in his schedule to write his own compositions. In 1986, he produced a mass entitled Lumières, his first full-scale work for symphony orchestra, which continues his exploration of the synthesis of musical genres. In its Paris premiere, classical counter-tenor James Bowman and soprano Deborah Rees found themselves singing alongside a rock drummer. Loussier has subsequently written a trumpet and violin concerto (both in 1988), a suite for string, Tableaux Venetiens, and a ballet, Trois Couleurs (1989), to celebrate the bi-centenary of the French Revolution.

His first Telarc release, Jacques Loussier Plays Bach, debuted in 1996. His next recording, Antonio Vivaldiís Four Seasons, unlocked a new vein of creativity and self-discovery, in which Loussier searched for a deeper level of exploration altogether. He followed up this excursion into the Italian Baroque with Jacques Loussier Plays Satie, a look at the founding father of French minimalism. His exceptional 1999 release, Ravelís Bolero, explored Loussierís very personal connection to the work of the French impressionists. The Bach Book/40th Anniversary Album, a new recording of Loussierís best-selling works from the 1960's was also released in 1999. In 2000, for the first time ever, Loussier tackled the monumental Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), in honor of the 250th anniversary of the death of J.S. Bach. Recent releases from Jacques Loussier include L.v. Beethovenís Symphony No. 7 (2003) and The Best of Play Bach (SACD only) in February 2004. Impressions of Chopinís Nocturnes, Loussierís first solo piano recording and an intimate exploration of the works of Frédéric Chopin, was released on Loussierís 70th birthday in October 2004. He returned to the trio setting a year later with the October 25, 2005, release of W.A. Mozart: Piano Concertos 20/23.

Source: Telarc Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2007)

Jacques Loussier: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Jacques Loussier - Biography (AMG)
Jacques Loussier (Wikipedia)

Jacques Loussier (Official Website)
Jacques Loussier (Telarc)

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