Martial Solal in Concert

Last night at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, French film composer/jazz pianist Martial Solal performed a rare concert with Francois Moutin on bass as part of the museum’s summer-long “Jazz Score” celebration of jazz in film.

At 81, Solal plays with the energy of musicians half his age, if not more. He has lost none of his technique and was ably supported throughout by Moutin’s playing. Seldom did the two play by themselves and like an old married couple, they spoke over each other, occasionally finished each other’s musical sentences, and eventually came together at cadence points before ending as one. The positioning of Moutin immediately behind the piano bench to Solal’s left provided not only a direct view of the keyboard, but allowed an intimacy rare in any musical performance.

As Solal and Moutin deconstructed jazz standards and made them their own, whispers of melody floated in and out of classic tunes such as “Tea for Two,” “Caravan,” and “All the Things You Are.” The two instruments discussed, fought and made up through chart after chart. For those who like their jazz with a groove, this evening must have seemed a disappointment. If there was meter, it was evident only to the performers. However, the capacity crowd was useless to resist the wit, humor and, forgive me, joie de vivre, displayed by Solal and Moutin.

The concert ended after two hours, but as Solal said, “You’ll tire more quickly than me.” And he was right. It looked like Solal and Moutin could have played into the wee hours of the morning, and we would have all been richer for it.


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