Jacques Loussier Trio
Nestling among the classical superstar line-up of pianist Joanna MacGregor, Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey and violinist James Ehnes, who appear in Glasgow’s International Classical Season to celebrate the music of JS Bach, there’s a name that doesn’t at first glance fit the mould. It’s the Jacques Loussier Trio who are renowned for their brilliant jazz improvisations rather than a more traditional classical approach. Behind the Romantic Bach series is Lindsay Pell, BBC Scotland senior producer, who says, ‘Basically, I wanted to put together four high profile concerts centred on Bach, but looking at his music in a slightly different way. Lots of work has been done on period performance, but it has always struck me that people have never stopped playing Bach on a grand piano, so it seemed that we should also look at Bach through a post-Romantic eye.’
Loussier, who is 76 this year, first created his original Play Bach Trio way back in 1959. It was astonishingly successful. Taking Bach’s compositions as a base for jazz improvisation, their most famous recording is undoubtedly Air on a G String which was used for more than 35 years as the tune accompanying Hamlet cigar ads.
‘Loussier is an iconic figure of the 70s,’ says Lindsay Pell, ‘but we’ve got a very good relationship with him these days through our Jazz Line-Up programme, and when we were chatting about the Bach series, the idea of Loussier came up and he was a perfect fit.’ Loussier’s original trio broke up in 1978, but he reformed it 300 years after Bach’s birth in 1985. ‘He strikes a chord with everybody,’ says Lindsay Pell, ‘as he’s such a high quality, instinctive musician that you just sit back and relax. It’s a rare chance to hear him, especially in this slightly unusual context.’
City Halls, Glasgow, Sun 21 Mar