Martial Solal

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Martial Solal
Martial Solal performs with his Newdecaband in 2006.
Martial Solal performs with his Newdecaband in 2006.
Background information
Born (1927-08-23) August 23, 1927 (age 96)
Algiers, French Algeria
GenresJazz, classical
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Years active1950s–2019

Martial Solal (born August 23, 1927)[1] is a French jazz pianist and composer.


Solal was born in Algiers, French Algeria,[1] to Algerian Jewish parents. He was persuaded to study clarinet, saxophone, and piano by his mother, who was an opera singer.[2] He was expelled from school in 1942 because of his parents' Jewish ancestry. Algeria was a French colony, and the Vichy regime in France was following Nazi policies. Solal educated himself after having studied classical music in school. He imitated music he heard on the radio. When he was 15, he performed publicly for United States Army audiences.[1]

After settling in Paris in 1950, he began working with Django Reinhardt and U.S. expatriates such as Sidney Bechet and Don Byas.[2] He formed a quartet (occasionally also leading a big band) in the late 1950s, although he had been recording as a leader since 1953. Solal then began composing film music, eventually providing over 20 scores.[2] He composed music for Jean-Luc Godard's debut feature film Breathless (À bout de souffle, 1960).[2]

In 1963, he made an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island; the Newport '63 album purporting to be a recording of this gig is actually a studio recreation with overdubbed applause, as documented in the sleeve notes of some later reissues.[3] At this time, his trio included bassist Guy Pedersen and drummer Daniel Humair. From 1968, he performed and recorded with Lee Konitz in Europe and the U.S.[2]

In its January 2011 issue, The Gruppen Review published a 12-page interview in which Solal discusses his work as an eternal "researcher in jazz".[4]



His jazz approach was once described by Jean-Pierre Thiollet as "brilliant, unique and intellectual"[5] He has said of his technique: "You have to make people believe that it's very easy, even when it's very difficult. If you look to have trouble with the technique, it is no good. You must play the most difficult thing like this."[6][better source needed]






  1. ^ a b c arwulf, arwulf. "Martial Solal". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2319. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ "Martial Solal – at Newport '63 (1994, CD)". 1994.
  4. ^ "Gruppen n°2". GRUPPEN (in French). Archived from the original on 2021-11-20. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  5. ^ 88 notes pour piano solo, Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Neva Editions, 2015, p. 357. ISBN 978-2-3505-5192-0
  6. ^ (Martial Solal interviewed by Larry Appelbaum just before his concert at the Library of Congress, April 11, 2011).
  7. ^ "Martial Solal | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 November 2018.

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