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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful arrangement of a wonderful piece, plus more., 27 May 2004
This review is from: Ravel's Bolero (Audio CD)
This c.d. is comprised of its title track, Ravel's Bolero, and a seven-track piece (Nympheas) composed by Loussier himself. The former is, as anyone with much acquaintance with Loussier's work will know, typical in being a jazz interpretation of a well-known piece of music. It should not, however, be perceived by any listener as merely being a 'cover' by a fond and capable fan of the original, for that would be to miss the musicianship that makes Loussier's work so inspired. With Bolero Loussier attempts something that is significantly different from other interpretations he has presented (most notably, his work on Bach, Debussy and Vivaldi); at least as far as my own knowledge goes, nowhere else does Loussier attempt to portray an orchestral sound as full-bodied as that of Ravel's original Bolero. This, of course, makes the task all the more demanding, and Loussier rises to the challenge. The trio perform wonderfully to capture the volume-structure of the orchestral piece, beginning very softly and rising (as far a trio can) to grand crescendos. This has the inevitable drawback of possibly having a rather underwhelmed listener for the first few minutes due to the very light (dare I say 'tinkly') sound that the original avoids even at its softest moments. A second listening should serve to remedy this as one comes to appreciate the place this has in the overall structure of the piece. This is true also of the surprise one initially feels upon hearing the sections in which the trio improvise in a way that seems to betray the beautiful solemnity of the original. A closer listening reveals that Loussier's piano is still drifting over Ravel's original notation nonetheless. Although this is a piece that will no doubt be appreciated by all those who enjoy Loussier's other work, it is ultimately going to be most appealing to those who really love Bolero and who can understand the immense skill and subtlety that characterises this kind of arranging. That said, it is also a perfectly good introduction to Loussier-style interpretation.
I was very excited to see the inclusion of some Loussier originals. The inlay, written by Alyn Shipton, calls them impressionist pieces inspired by Monet's painting. For me, they are the improvisations I have always heard the Loussier trio hint at in his interpretations but which have been curtailed to remain faithful to the original tracks. Although the classical-sounding overtones makes these tracks identifiable as the Loussier trio, there are hints (and I do just mean hints) of a fusion-esque sound not unlike some early Michel Camilo or Chick Corea's 'Akoustic band'. Even without Bolero, this c.d. is worth buying for these tracks.
I was tempted to give the c.d. just four stars in order to warn of the disappointment some people may feel with Bolero if they expect something that is either too similar to the original (in terms of its full-bodied sound) or too different (in terms of having more jazz improvisation). However, I think I've given fair warning, and those who will fail to see the virtues of this version after repeated listenings are simply missing out on a masterclass on arranging.
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Ravel's Bolero
Ravel's Bolero by Jacques Loussier (Audio CD - 2009)
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