Schumann: Kinderszenenby Jacques Loussier Trio
Over the years, third stream music has been criticized in both the jazz and Euro-classical worlds. Jazz snobs have argued that if a jazz musician is playing something by Beethoven or Chopin, he/she can't possibly maintain an improviser's mentality; classical snobs will argue that great classical works need to be played exactly as they were written, and that jazz artists can't possibly do the compositions of Schubert, or Debussy justice if they improvise. But thankfully, Jacques Loussier hasn't paid attention to the naysayers in either the jazz or classical worlds, and after all these years, the French pianist (who turned 76 in 2010) is still taking chances. This 2011 release finds Loussier putting his spin on "Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood)," which German romanticist Robert Schumann (b. 1810, d. 1856) composed in 1838. Schumann turned 28 that year, and he wrote that nostalgic, 13-song work in memory of his childhood. Loussier (who forms an acoustic piano trio with bassist Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac and drummer André Arpino) performs "Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood)" in its entirety, and he approaches it not as European classical music, but as acoustic post-bop jazz. Thankfully, "Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood)" is appropriate for Loussier, who maintains the 13 songs' nostalgic outlook but does so in a consistently jazz-oriented fashion. Loussier sounds like he is fondly remembering his own childhood, which came about long after Schumann's. Indeed, Loussier was born in 1934, which was 96 years after "Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood)" was composed and 78 years after Schumann's death; Loussier grew up surrounded by a lot of music and technology that didn't exist when Schumann was a kid. But the more things change, the more they stay the same and nostalgia continues to inspire musicians today just as it did in Schumann's pre-jazz, pre-electricity, pre-records time. This 49-minute CD is among Loussier's creative successes; his experimentation hasn't always worked, but it works impressively well for him on this imaginative interpretation of "Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood)."
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