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Yesterday, I posted about a marvelous and rare Jimmy Rowles album called Profile: The Music of Henri Renaud (French Columbia), which was produced by Renaud in 1981. The reaction to my post was so strong, I decided to look way back at Renaud’s discography to see how the French pianist’s optimistic hard bop was shaped and influenced in the early 1950s. Two albums stuck out: Henri Renaud Plays the Music of Gigi Gryce (Vogue), recorded in November 1953, and Bobby Jaspar Plays Henri Renaud (Vogue), recorded in November 1954.


Both sessions are of the same variety as the Rowles album—a thematic exploration of a single composer’s works. The first featured eight songs by Gryce and appeared on a 10-inch LP in France. The session featured Bobby Jaspar (ts), Henri Renaud (p), Jimmy Gourley (g), Jean-Marie Ingrand (b), Jean-Louis Viale (d) and Gigi Gryce (comp,arr). Renaud’s tribute to Gryce had everything to do with his many recordings with Gryce and Clifford Brown from September 26, 1953 through October 9. You can hear the influence on Renaud of Gryce’s arrangements of Tadd Dameron during this period as well as Clifford Brown’s compositions, including Dameron’s Theme of No Repeat and Brown’s All Weird.

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Bobby Jaspar also was a major influence on Renaud. The pair played together on many sessions in the early 1950s. Renaud admired Jaspar’s ability to improvise warmly and fluidly on saxophone and flute. Jaspar certainly admired Renaud’s firm, lyrical support in the rhythm section. In November 1954, they recorded only four sides for an album called Bobby Jaspar Plays Henri Renaud, which was a released as a double 45. What a shame more weren’t recorded by thsi group. The four sides that we thankfully have are shrewdly arranged and spryly executed. The nonet featured Roger Guerin (tp), Buzz Gardner (flhrn), Nat Peck (tb), Christian Kellens (tu), Bobby Jaspar (ts) William Boucaya (bar) Henri Renaud (p,comp), Pierre Michelot (b), Jean-Louis Viale (d) and Christian Chevallier (arr). 


And now a word about availability. Over the past six months, I’ve come to believe that jazz isn’t dying. It’s disappearing. Fewer albums documenting the historical greats both here and abroad are falling out of print. With CDs increasingly taking a backseat to downloads and streaming services, jazz is once again falling through the cracks, just as it did during the early rise of the CD era. My advice to you is if you love this music, archive it on external hard-drives and back up those drives. There will soon come a day when the music you wished you had bought will no longer be available on CD or never made it to platforms such as Spotify. I raise this because you’ll find all of the material I discuss above only on Bobby Jaspar and Henri Renaud (Vogue), which you can buy used for around $20. Prices rise steeply from there. It’s time to start hoarding and filling out the discographies of your favorite artists. It’s also time to thank your lucky stars for tireless legacy producers such as Jordi Pujol (Fresh Sound), Zev Feldman (Resonance) and Bob Sonnenblick (Uptown) who are heroically keeping the fires burning by re-issuing masterful albums and unearthing previously unreleased tapes.

JazzWax tracks: Here’s Gigi Gryse’s Capri


Here’s Gryce’s Expansion


And here’s Henri Renaud’s Subscription


from JazzWax
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