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At 75, Solal is at his peak

May 30, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Martial Solal is not a name that will ring a bell for many American jazz fans. His relative unfamiliarity perhaps can be traced to the fact that, at 75, he comes from a generation of international jazz artists whose careers were impacted by a chauvinism directed at musicians who were not American-born.

But the French-Algerian pianist long ago established his jazz credibility with gigs with everyone from Sidney Bechet and Django Reinhardt to Don Byas, Lee Konitz and Stan Getz. He has recorded dozens of albums, composed music for Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" and other films and, in 1999 was awarded Denmark's prestigious Jazzpar Prize. It is no exaggeration to say that Solal is the most artistically significant European jazz artist since Reinhardt.

Amazingly, prior to his performance at the Jazz Bakery on Tuesday, his Los Angeles appearances have been virtually nil. Solal says he has performed here only in the recording studio; some veteran fans at the Bakery recalled brief club engagements.

Either way it has been far too little, but fortunately, not too late. Working in stunningly symbiotic fashion Tuesday with twin brothers Francois Moutin on bass and Louis Moutin on drums, Solal offered an illuminating journey of musical discovery. Sticking mostly to standards ("Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise," "Body and Soul," "Cherokee," "What Is This Thing Called Love?"), he transformed each into a new experience, deconstructing and reassembling the familiar material with an exhilarating combination of musical wit, imagination, virtuosity and swing.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday May 31, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Jazz performance -- A box accompanying a review of the Martial Solal Trio in Friday's Calendar said the group would be performing at the Jazz Bakery in Culver City on Sunday but failed to note that it was also performing there Friday and today at 8 and 9:30 p.m.

He was matched at every step by Francois Moutin's extraordinarily empathic bass playing and Louis Moutin's precise, supportive drumming. Music lovers -- of whatever genre -- should take advantage of this rare opportunity to hear a great artist at the peak of his powers.


Martial Solal Trio

Where: The Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City

When: Sunday, 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $25

Info: (310) 271-9039

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