Jacques Loussier (26 October 1934 – 5 March 2019) was a French pianist and composer. He was well known for his jazz interpretations in trio formation of many of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works, such as the Goldberg Variations. The Jacques Loussier Trio, founded in its original formation in 1959, played more than 3,000 concerts, and sold more than 7 million recordings, especially from the series Play Bach. Loussier composed soundtracks for films for cinema and televiosion, and classical music including a mass, a ballet and violin concertos, among others.
Loussier was born on 26 October 1934 in Angers, France. He started piano lessons aged ten, in Angers, and after three months he encountered his first music by Johann Sebastian Bach. He began composing music while studying at the Conservatoire National Musique, having moved then to Paris, under Nat, from the age of 16. At a competition at the conservatory, he played a prelude by Bach, and when his memory failed, improvised. He later said that he only followed a tradition, because musicians of the 18th century, including Bach, were great improvisers. Loussier played jazz in Paris bars to finance his studied. The fusion of Bach and jazz was unique at the time.
Early in his career, he accompanied singers such as Frank Alamo, Charles Aznavour, Léo Ferré and Catherine Sauvage. In 1959, Loussier formed the Jacques Loussier Trio with string bass player Pierre Michelot who had previously played with Django Reinhardt and the Quintette du Hot Club de France, and percussionist Christian Garros. They used Bach’s compositions as a base for jazz improvisation and had many live appearances, tours, and concerts, as well as a number of recordings. Originally the trio recorded for Decca Records but in 1973 changed to Philips/Phonogram. The trio sold over six million albums in 15 years. Their best known recording is “Air on the G String” which was used for the Hamlet cigar advertisements in the UK for over 35 years. The trio played more than 3.000 concerts, and sold more than 7 million albums.
In 1978, the trio was dissolved. Loussier set up his own recording studio, Studio Miraval, in Provence, where he worked on compositions for acoustic and electric instruments. He recorded with musicians such as Pink Floyd, Elton John, Sting, Chris Rea and Sade. Parts of Pink Floyd’s album The Wall were recorded at his studio.
In 1985, Bach’s tricentenary of birth, Loussier revived the Jacques Loussier Trio with new partners, percussionist André Arpino and bassist Vincent Charbonnier. The bassist Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac has also performed in the trio, replacing Charbonnier (whose left hand was affected following a stroke, resulting in his being unable to continue to play the bass) on a number of albums and concerts from at least as early as 1998 (on the album Satie: Gymnopédies Gnossiennes). More recent recordings included interpretations of compositions by Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Antonio Vivaldi, and Robert Schumann. His last albums were released in 2014 on the occasion of his 80th birthday, My Personal Favorites, and Beyond Bach, Other Composers I Adore.
In March 2002, Loussier filed a $10 million lawsuit against rapper Eminem and The Marshall Mathers LP executive producer Dr. Dre, claiming that the beat for the track “Kill You” was stolen from his composition “Pulsion”. He demanded that all sales of the album be halted and any remaining copies destroyed. The case was settled out of court.
Loussier suffered a stroke during a performance at the Klavierfestival Ruhr on 14 July 2011, and retired from the stage. He died on 5 March 2019 at the age of 84.
Loussier composed soundtracks for over hundred films, made for cinema and television television series, beginning with The Happy Sixties in 1963. These included the scores for the films Heaven on One’s Head (1965), Living It Up (1966), The Killing Game (1967), Dark of the Sun (1968), Monique (1970) and The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (1980), the theme tune for the popular 1960s French TV series Thierry la Fronde, and the original sign-on music for La 3e chaîne, the predecessor television channel to France 3. He composed a symphonic mass, a trumpet concerto and two violin concertos, and music for a ballet, among others. (by wikipedia)
To honor this great musician you can hear this pretty good live album from 1974 … enjoy his very special way to celebrae the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall, London, England, Tuesday, January 1, 1974
Christian Garros (drums, persussion)
Jacques Loussier (piano)
Pierre Michelot (bass)
01. Toccata In D Minor (Bach) 11.20
02. Fugue No. 5 In D Major (Bach) 6.26
03. Esquisse (Loussier) 4.33
04. Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring (Bach) 5.00
05. Fantasie In C Minor (Bach) 3.29
06. Prelude No. 1 In C Major (Bach) 3.31
Jacques Loussier (26 October 1934 – 5 March 2019)