Various Artists – European Jazz – Volume 04 – France (Part 1) (2012)

FrontCover1At one time, the concept of “European Jazz” meant very little indeed. While jazz was developing in the USA in the 1920s, there was almost no European jazz to speak of. Some Americans – Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Sidney Bechet – came to Europe and made an impact there in the 1930s but it was not until the thirties that Europeans began to develop their own jazz significantly. Perhaps the most outstanding group was the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, formed in 1934, with its two virtuosos Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.

This group is not represented in this ten-CD boxed set, which suggests that the compilation is making no attempt at a historical survey. Indeed, it is difficult to know what this set is trying to do. It seems as if the compilers simply put together tracks to which they had access, and there is little attempt to provide a balanced view of European jazz. Nevertheless, this collection can be educative in opening our ears to some artists we may not have heard before. It also supplies a cross-section (albeit limited) of how Europeans developed jazz, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s.

This compilation makes it clear that European jazz was very much influenced by the Americans. For example, the tenorist on track 2 of the third CD sounds very like Stan Getz, while the altoist on the third track betrays the influence of Charlie Parker. And the Michael Naura Quintet on the eighth CD could be mistaken for the Modern Jazz Quartet.

I can’t tell you who most of the individual musicians are, as detailed personnels are sadly not given. This is a nuisance, as I would like to be able to identify (for instance) the bongo Brandenburgplayer on track 9 of the fifth CD. However, one lesson of many tracks in this collection is that many Europeans learnt from the bebop pioneers – and from such groups as the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. As most of the tracks in this compilation come from the fifties and sixties, there is little individuality in the music from the different countries, as it was only later that they began to develop their own distinctive styles.

Le Jazz Groupe de Paris1

This CD is devoted to France. Le Jazz Groupe de Paris included saxist Bobby Jaspar and it played arrangements by André Hodeir. Martial Solal and Bernard Pfeiffer are world-class pianists and it is good to find them included here. Two other musicians who are perhaps better known outside jazz are Sacha Distel and Michel Legrand. Distel was an accomplished guitarist before he concentrated on singing, and Michel Legrand has always been a fine pianist (to hear on Part 2; coming soon) (

Martial Solal1

No, no, no … this compilation is not so weak, as we read above … it´s a great compilation with lots of rarities from the young European Jazz-Scene during the 50´and this time we hear great Jazz from France ! Excellent stuff !



Le Jazz Groupe de Paris:
01. On A Scale (Hodeir) 4.23
02. Bicinium (Hodeir) 3.14
03. Evanescence (Hodeir) 4.06
04. Tension Detente (Hodeir) 3.32
05. Paradoxe (Hodeir) 2.08
06. Triads (Hodeir) 5.23
07. Milano (Hodeir) 4.16

Martial Solal et Les Kentonians;
08. Blues Martial (Solal) 7.44
09. Jive At Five (Basie) 7.14
10. Why Not? (Hefti) 7.08

Sacha Distel:
11. On Serait Des Chats (Byers) 3.04
12. No. 1 For Sacha (Byers) 2.59
13. Avec Ces Yeux-La (Legrand) 4.12
14. A Piece Of Pizza (Byers) 3.20
15. Half Nelson (Davis) 4.47



Sacha Distel.jpg

More from the “European Jazz” edition: