Martial Solal

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Martial Solal (2006)

Martial Solal (born August 23, 1927 in Algiers ) is a French pianist and composer of modern jazz . He has been considered the leading jazz pianist in France since the 1950s . Originally he was strongly influenced by Bud Powell , but incorporates Lennie Tristano's style . In addition to his brilliant technique, Marcus Gammel emphasizes "his wealth of nuances, his preference for strong contrasts and his spontaneity." As a composer, he has "developed a very dense, colorful sound language that successfully crosses the boundaries between jazz and contemporary composition music."

Solal has lived in a suburb of Paris since 1950.

life and work

Martial Solal had already taken piano lessons from his mother, an opera singer, at the age of six and had an interest in jazz from 1940, which was initially aroused by recordings by Fats Waller and Art Tatum . In 1950 he came to Paris, where he soon found work in local orchestras, formed his own quartet with Roger Guérin , but also recorded with Django Reinhardt (1953). As a resident pianist at Club Saint Germain (1953, 1957–1959), he accompanied musicians such as Don Byas , Lucky Thompson , Billy Byers , JJ Johnson , Stan Getz , Kenny Clarke , Chet Baker and Sidney Bechet . In 1955 he founded his own trio with Daniel Humair and Guy Pedersen , with whom he mainly worked from 1959. His first solo LP was released in 1960, which was later followed by internationally acclaimed solo albums such as Nothing But Piano (1975), The Solosolal (1978), Bluesine (1983) and, most recently, the Grammy- nominated Live at Village Vanguard (2009). In addition, Solal led his own big band as early as the late 1950s, which he occasionally revived (1962, 1966). At the beginning of the 1960s, Solal performed internationally at festivals such as Newport (1963), Montreal , Monterey and Berlin as a soloist, with his trio, a quartet led together with Roger Guérin and at times in an unusual trio with two bassists (Guy Pedersen and Gilbert Rovère ) on. In 1963 he worked for a long time in New York's Hickory House .

Furthermore, recordings were made with Lucky Thompson, André Hodeir , Stéphane Grappelli , Lee Konitz , Michel Portal , John Scofield , Didier Lockwood and Toots Thielemans . Since 1981 he has been giving concerts with his big band, which included soloists such as François Jeanneau , Jean-Louis Chautemps , Lee Konitz, Roger Guérin and Christian Escoudé . This later became his Dodecaband and the Newdecaband , in which his daughter, the singer Claudia Solal , also participates.

Building on his composition work for Godard's film Out of Breath (1959), he began writing more and more film music since the 1960s . After Martin Kunzler, Solal's contribution with the relevant soundtracks by Miles Davis , Gerry Mulligan and Art Blakey marks the beginning of a new development in film composition. His suite Rhythmical Escape and his concerto for piano and orchestra (1981) should also be mentioned. He also wrote a number of chamber music works - for example for Elisabeth Chojnacka, Marcel Azzola , Les Percussions de Strasbourg , Pierre Charial or the Ensemble Concert Arban - as well as a collection of piano etudes.


  • 1959: Two men in Manhattan (Deux hommes dans Manhattan)
  • 1960: One night affair (L'affaire d'une nuit)
  • 1960: The Testament of Orpheus (Le testament d'Orphée)
  • 1960: Out of breath (À bout de souffle)
  • 1961: Eva and the priest (Léon Morin, prêtre)
  • 1962: Temptation (Svenska flickori i Paris)
  • 1962: The Enemies (Les ennemis)
  • 1964: The boss has come up with something (Échappement libre)
  • 1965: Three rooms in Manhattan (Trois chambres à Manhattan)
  • 1995: Jean Seberg - American Actress

Prizes and awards

In 1956 he received the Prix ​​Django Reinhardt (in its second year of existence). His album Suite For Trio with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Daniel Humair was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in 1979 . In 1999 he received the highly endowed Jazzpar Prize . In 1998 he was recognized as the best French musician and in 2004 he received the Django d'Or (France) .

In Paris an international piano jazz competition is named after him, the Concours de piano jazz Martial Solal .

Discographic notes

Martial Solal (1988; Photo: Erling Mandelmann)
  • 1953 The Complete Vogue Recordings, Vol. 1 - Trios And Quartet (Vogue / BMG, 1953–56)
  • 1954 The Complete Vogue Recordings, Vol. 2 - Trios And Solos (Vogue / BMG, 1954–56)
  • 1955 The Complete Vogue Recordings, Vol. 1 - Trio And Big Band (Vogue / BMG, 1955–58)
  • 1965 Zo-Ko-So (MPS) with Hans Koller and Attila Zoller
  • 1968 Key for Two (with Pierre Michelot )
  • 1970 Sans Tambour Ni Trompette (RCA)
  • 1971 En Solo (RCA)
  • 1974 Locomotion (ed. 2020), with Bernard Lubat , Henri Texier
  • 1975 Duo In Paris (Dreyfus) with Joachim Kühn
  • 1981 Martial Solal Big Band (Dreyfus)
  • 1983 Bluesine (Soul Note)
  • 1984 Plays Hodeir (OMD)
  • 1988 9-11 PM Town Hall (Label Bleu, only on two tracks)
  • 1990 Tryptique (Adda)
  • 1993 Solal-Lockwood (JMS)
  • 1993 Improvisie Pour France Musique (JMS)
  • 1994 Triangle (JMS) with Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine
  • 1997 Just Friends (Dreyfus) with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian
  • 1998 Ballade du 10 Mars (Soul Note)
  • 1998 Jazz'n (e) motion (BMG / RCA)
  • 1997 Plays Ellington (Dreyfus)
  • 1999 Contrastes: The Jazzpar Price (Storyville)
  • 2005 Rue de Seine (Camjazz) duo with Dave Douglas
  • 2017 Martial Solal & Dave Liebman : Masters in Bordeaux


Web links

Commons : Martial Solal  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. cf. W. Kampmann Reclams Jazzlexikon , p. 492f.
  2. Martin Kunzler Jazz-Lexikon , p. 1256