Bobby Jaspar All-Stars Band – Modern Jazz Au Club Saint Germain – Barclay/ Sam 84.023 – audiophile mono vinyl [Distr. by Speakers Corner] ***½:
(Bobby Jaspar – tenor sax; Rene Urtreger – piano; Sacha Distel – guitar; Bennoit Quersin – bass; Jean-Louise Viale – drums)
Bobby Jaspar was a well known bop-oriented tenor saxophonist and flautist from Belgium. He was active in Europe in the 1950s before moving to New York, where he was fairly active before passing away in 1963. While in Europe Bobby played in sessions with Toots Thielmans, Jimmy Raney, and Chet Baker. He met vocalist Blossom Dearie, whom he married. In New York, his skills were such that he backed J.J. Johnson, Miles Davis, and Donald Byrd. Tragically his career was cut short by heart problems.
His all-star band recording from 1955 was issued by Emarcy/Gitanes as part of their extensive Jazz in Paris series. Now in a limited edition 180 gm vinyl, pressed by Pallas in Germany from the original master tapes, Sam Records has re-released this Parisian session that features well known standards. The acoustics are superb for the time period. There is a vibrancy to the recording that brings out the strengths of the band. Sacha Distel, the guitarist, never got his due as a first rate guitarist, and Rene Urtreger could hold his own with anyone on the European continent at that time.
“Bag’s Groove” is done at a laid-back pace with Jaspar blowing in a mellow blues-based manner. “Memory of Dick” follows, and again Jaspar shines as he blows in a cool manner which brings to mind Lester Young. Querson, on bass, though a bit distant in the mix is rock steady on bass, especially backing Urtreger’s piano. “Miles Tone” is a take on Miles’ “Milestones.”
Other winning numbers include Jaspar’s moody “I’ll Remember April” where Bobby’s estimable flute playing is shown. “Night in Tunisia” is done in pure bop fashion that is a match for stateside bop of the ‘50s.
All in all, due to its superb sound, and the skill of the quintet, the purchase of this LP comes highly recommended. There is not enough Bobby Jaspar material out there, and only Barney Wilen, comes to mind as a comparable European tenor player.
Side A: Bag’s Groove, Memory of Dick, Miles Tone, Minor Drops
Side B: I Remember April, You Stepped Out of a Dream, I Can’t Get Started, Night in Tunisia