Pianist Martial Solal and tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin have more in common than their status as septuagenarian French immigrants--Solal moved to Paris from his native Algeria in the 1940s, and Griffin settled in southern France in the '60s. Each plays in a unique style, unimitative and unimitated, informed by a virtuosity rarely heard on their respective instruments. Big words, but the facts remain.
Although he boasts an ambidexterity reminiscent of Art Tatum, Solal uses it in a far more understated way, pencil-sketching the fills and fillips of an arrangement where Tatum would have used tempera flourishes. And Griffin--on this recording, especially--can rise above the fireworks riffing of his hard-bop contemporaries; his colossal technique allows him to develop an idea further than many other saxists could take it, at which point he essentially turns his style into the substance of his improvisations. The 8 tunes on this relatively short (47-minute) disc show a matchup that results in at least Griffin's finest work in years. And why not? Performing with the sensitive, constantly inventive Solal must be like playing a jazz concerto grosso as he turns the keyboard into a chamber orchestra of varied colors and voicings to support Griffin's solos, then expands his own brilliant statements to provide echoes and cues for his partner.
On "Neutralisme," a raffish tone poem by Solal, they volley solo snippets with the telepathic empathy of the great jazz partners from Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines through Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. Solal has mesmerized listeners for nearly half a century, but a paucity of U.S. releases has kept him out of the mainstream limelight. In & Out will serve as a splendid introduction for Solal newbies, a reminder of his restless and inspiring creativity for the rest of us, and delightful proof of Griffin's powerful command of line and emotion. ~Neil Tesser
personnel: Martial Solal - p Johnny Griffin - ts
Tracklisting: 1. You Stepped Out of a Dream 2. Come With Me 3. In and Out 4. Hey Now 5. L' Oreille Est Hardie 6. When You're in My Arms 7. Neutralisme 8. Well, You Needn't
The attitude of the gallant Six Hundred which so aroused Lord Tennyson's admiration arose from the fact that the least disposition to ask the reason why was discouraged by tricing the would-be inquirer to the triangle and flogging him into insensibility.
Advance to Barbarism
(Mitre Press, 1968).
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