Entertainment Weekly - 1/12/01, p.83
"...The masterful brainiac cooks up rare, radical big-band charts of standards like 'Satin Doll' and 'Take the A Train' - anything but sentimental or predictable..." - Rating: B+
CMJ - 2/12/01, p.35
"...Witness how easily this crew moves through the canon without losing its way..."
JazzTimes - 6/01, p.154
"...There is much to relish on this collection....if you are interested in the work of Solal and in hearing how versatile these seemingly familiar classics still are, go no further than this disc..."
Personnel: Martial Solal (piano); Jean-Pierre Solves (baritone saxophone, flute); Jean-Louis Chautemps, Sylvain Beuf (saxophone); Tony Russo, Roger Guerin, Eric Le Lann (trumpet); Denis Leloup, Jacques Bolognesi (trombone); Didier Havet (tuba); Patrice Caratini (acoustic bass); Francois Merville, Umberto Pagnini (drums).
Recorded at Studio 105, Paris, France from December 26-28, 1997. Includes liner notes by Martial Solal.
Personnel: Martial Solal (piano); Jean-Pierre Solves (flute, baritone saxophone); Jean Louis Chautemps (saxophone, drums); Sylvain Beuf (saxophone); Tony Russo, Eric Le Lann, Roger Guerin (trumpet); Denis Leloup, Jacques Bolognesi (trombone); Didier Havet (tuba); Patrice Caratini (double bass); Fran‡ois Merville, Umberto Pagnini (drums).
Liner Note Author: Martial Solal.
Recording information: Studio 105, Maison de la Radio, Paris, France (12/26/1997-12/28/1997).
Photographer: Christian Rose.
Arranger: Martial Solal.
Incredibly, both at the time this was recorded and when it was released, the very fine French pianist and outstanding arranger Martial Solal was barely a blip on the radar screen in the United States, despite decades of output. Here, he produces one of the best dedications to Duke Ellington ever with total reworkings of some of the Duke's most famous compositions. Solal writes that his goal was "...to show, by means of well-known pieces, that the job of the arranger is actually a compositional task." In this, he succeeds. By transforming such classics of the jazz repertoire as "Satin Doll," "Caravan," and "Take the 'A' Train," Solal's 12-piece (13 on "'A' Train") "Dodecaband" is the pianist's main instrument, his piano a close second. Snippets of melody are interweaved among entirely new constructs that retain the spirit of the originals but nonetheless offer new perspectives on the pieces. These are not simple arrangements but highly complex, thoroughly compelling works of art. Although the band had been around for more than a decade when this was recorded, few if any of its members -- other than Solal -- were likely to be recognized outside of France. The relatively few solo improvisations are first-rate, but it is Solal who steals the show here, as well, with characteristically inventive and original creations that offer endless streams of ideas. His arrangements are the centerpiece, and deservedly so. ~ Steven Loewy