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Martial Solal: My One and Only Love: Live at Theater Gütersloh (Intuition)

Review of solo piano album recorded in Gütersloh, Germany

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Cover of Martial Solal album My One and Only Love: Live at Theater Gütersloh on Intuition
Cover of Martial Solal album My One and Only Love: Live at Theater Gütersloh on Intuition

For all his 60-plus years of work with ensembles large and small, it’s Martial Solal’s solo performances that remain his most consistently interesting. France’s premier jazz pianist has a gift for abstraction that flourishes when he can reshape time and melody solely at his own whim. Witness My One and Only Love, a marvelous unaccompanied performance recorded last fall in Gütersloh, Germany. The pianist’s renditions bring to mind the manifesto of the cartoonist Gerald Scarfe: seeing how far he can stretch a figure (or in Solal’s case a tune) and still leave it recognizable.

Solal retains the base form of “Have You Met Miss Jones?” with two devices: frequent reference to its title phrase and boisterous swing, though the latter can sometimes dissolve into fascinating amorphous rambles. “My One and Only Love” gets run-throughs of its A section in between single-note domino effects and fractured chordal plots; “All the Things You Are” begins with a captivating experiment in dynamics and resonance that evolves into a scattering of melodic tendrils over an oompah beat. “A Night in Tunisia,” on the other hand, remains coherent throughout, even when it digresses into minimalistic repeated figures.

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