Raymond Fol: The Four Seasons (Spring: First Movement)


The Four Seasons (Spring: First Movement)


Raymond Fol (piano)


Jazz In Paris – Les 4 Saisons (Emarcy)

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Raymond Fol (piano), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax),

Maurice Thomas, Fred Gérard, Roger Guérin, Ivan Jullien, Michel Poli (trumpets), Raymond Katarzynski, Charles Verstraete, Christian Guizien, Camille Verdier (trombones), Pierre Dumont (French horn), Raymond Guy, Michel Plockyn (flutes), Denis Fournier (alto sax, clarinet), Jacques Nourrédine (alto sax, bass clarinet), Dominique Chanson (tenor sax), Georges Grenu (tenor sax, clarinet), Jean-Louis Chautemps, Pierre Gossez (baritone saxes), Sadi (vibes, bongos), Pierre Cullaz (guitar), Jimmy Woode (bass), Arthur Taylor (drums), Jean-Louis Viale, Georges Lalue, Armand Cavallaro (percussion)


Composed by Antonio Vivaldi. Arranged by Raymond Fol


Recorded: Paris, July 9-15, 1965


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

In the mid-'60s the fine French pianist and arranger Raymond Fol had the audacity to record a big band arrangement of Vivaldi’s bestselling set of concerti. And for that he chose Johnny Griffin as main soloist on most tracks, beginning with the universally famous initial one: Le Printemps, 1st Movement (Allegro).

Fol was a great admirer of Duke Ellington (who returned the favor by performing one of Fol's compositions with his own orchestra) and had a strong classical background. On the other hand, as a pianist he played with Sidney Bechet as well as with Dizzy Gillespie. For this session, he arranged every movement of the four Vivaldi concerti in a jazz style, each differing from one another. This loud Afro-Cuban opening must have been a shock to classical music buffs of the time, even though Fol’s writing is so intelligent that anyone with open ears should admit that he did a great job.

But another musician played a key role in the success of this recording: Johnny Griffin. He hadn’t yet chosen to live in Europe for good, but was familiar with the French jazz scene. No wonder, then, that Fol used his fiery, powerful tenor sax to express the exuberance of spring. After all, wasn’t the “little giant” born a Taurus, at the end of April, and wasn’t he best adapted to bridge the gap between Vivaldi’s Venice, Fol’s Paris and his own Chicago, regardless of stylistic barriers?

Reviewer: Thierry Quénum

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  • 1 Eleftarios // Dec 02, 2008 at 03:19 PM
    My father picked this LP up from a delete bin back in the late 60's. When I went to Toronto to study jazz composition in the 70's, I scoffed his treasured record and have never returned it. It's beautiful writing, often evocative of Ellington, and to my mind uniquely different from what American composers were doing with the jazz orchestra at the time. I finally retired the well-worn LP in favour of the CD version -- including a copy for my long deprived father this Christmas. Kudos on the remix quality. The only criticism is that the original LP cover was uber cool, with its 4 seasonal cartoon images. Too bad that wasn't redone also.