Although pianist/composer Jacques Loussier is best known for his groundbreaking J.S. Bach albums, his ability to reinvent the work of other composers is equally amazing. Ravel's Boléro covers two very different aspects of impressionism: a new interpretation of "Boléro" by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) and seven short compositions by Loussier that were inspired by Claude Monet's paintings of waterlilies or "Nymphéas." While his emotions are wrapped up in the music and time of Ravel, it is Loussier's resourceful ability to dance between the borders of jazz and classical music that is most likely to give his latest Telarc release its enduring appeal.
"Boléro," the first piece on the disc, remains beautifully hypnotic, shifting music. The piece is still recognizably Ravel. Yet without leaving the true sentiment of the composer, Loussier brings out the jazz feeling that was always present. He offers a masterful interpretation, maintaining a balance between his own invention and the essence of the original composition. "Boléro" demonstrates not just how Loussier approaches jazz or classical, but how he approaches music.
The second section of the disc features the seven lyrical "Nymphéas." Inspired by Monet's final massive paintings, these new pieces explore musical color, nuance, and impressionism. Loussier's feeling here is close in musical terms to the work of Keith Jarrett, and it's not surprising that Loussier names him among the jazz players he listens to most. A complete musician, but a gentle technical showman, Loussier's mastery of the keyboard appears more as sparkling musical expression than agility or brilliance.