Martial Solal Biography

23 August 1927, Algiers, Algeria. Solal was taught to play the piano from the age of seven by his opera-singing mother. He worked with local bands in Algiers before moving to Paris in 1950. There he played with all the prominent French musicians as well as the visiting Americans, including Don Byas, Lucky Thompson, Sidney Bechet. He wrote the score for Jean-Luc Godard’s film Breathless (1959) and has scored over 20 further screenplays. In 1968, Solal began a long association with alto saxophonist Lee Konitz.

Solal has a prodigious technique at the piano and an extensive harmonic knowledge. He has often worked as a solo performer, when he rarely plays in a constant tempo and his melodic improvisation can be at its most remote. He occasionally leads a big band. Triangle in 1996 was a particularly impressive recording, aided, embellished and improved by Pete Erskine and Marc Johnson. In 1999, Solal became the first person from a non-English speaking country to win the Jazzpar award.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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