Classical jazz, with a facelift

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Classical jazz, with a facelift

A French classical-jazz trio known for its Bach-based improvisations will perform familiar classics for audiences in Seoul on Sunday.
The Jacques Loussier Trio consists of piano, bass and percussion. Since 1959, Mr. Loussier, whose ensemble back then was called the Play Bach Trio, has been performing and recording jazz music based on Bach pieces, including the Goldberg Variations, which will be featured in Sunday’s concerts.
This year, the trio released a compilation of tracks from past albums, titled “The Best of Play Bach.”
Derek Jewell, music critic for London’s Sunday Times, wrote that Mr. Loussier “virtually invented jazzy, different ways of playing Bach.”
He went on to say that the trio “take[s] the themes of Bach and subtly build[s] new structures of musical architecture. Charm and wit and surprise will infuse the nostalgic but fresh sounds which result.”
Loussier was born in northwestern France in 1934. He started playing piano at 10 and entered the Conservatoire National de Musique in Paris at 16.
At 17, Loussier left the school and later worked with an orchestra in Cuba, where he studied everything from jazz to Debussy and Schumann.
In 1959, Loussier began experimenting with jazz based on themes by Bach, and founded the Play Bach Trio.
The trio immediately caught the public’s attention. They enjoyed commercial success achieved by few jazz musicians, selling more than 6 million records before dissolving in 1978.
Loussier then established his own studio in Miraval, near Nice, which hosted rock stars such as Pink Floyd, Elton John and Sting. Some segments of Pink Floyd’s album “The Wall” were recorded at Loussier’s studio.
Exploring the integration of new technology with conventional instruments, Loussier produced works including “Pulsions,” “Pagan Moon” and “Fusions Sous La Mer.”
In 1985, he formed the Loussier Trio. Percussionist Andre Arpino had worked for celebrated jazz artists like Sam Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Stan Getz.
Composer and bassist Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac had played in a variety of music festivals before joining the trio in 1997.
Besides Bach, the program will include jazz takes on Vivaldi, Satie and Beethoven.
The concerts are at COEX auditorium in southern Seoul at 3 and 7 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are 33,000 won ($31) to 77,000 won. For information, call 1588-7890.

by Limb Jae-un
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