Album Title: The 50th Anniversary Recording
Performer: Jacques Loussier Trio
Label: Telarc 83693
Running time
: 53'
Recorded: Studio Miraval/France, Nakano Sun Plaza Hall, Advision Studio

The two word Plays Bach have become synonymous with French pianist Jacques Loussier's jazzy interpretations of the baroque man's famous compositions. Having been at the recipe for now 50 years to include Debussy, Ravel, Vivaldi, Chopin and other source material, Loussier actually retired a while back to the country where he runs a successful recording study and works on film scores.

Called back in the hot seat to celebrate a half centennial, the new album is simply called Jacques Loussier | Plays Bach | The 50th Anniversary Recording - self-explanatory but not indicative of the all-new takes on the subject matter. Now 75, the old lion shows himself in peak form. Surrounded by Vincent Charbonnier on bass and André Arpino on drums, the extent to which the trio leaves behind the notated score goes quite beyond what the original formation did for the first twenty years.

The present reading contains much added modernity over the earlier ones. Chiefly responsible for those influences are the two collaborators. It's immensely gratifying to see just how far into the Great Blue Yonder the trio can jump off the Bach board only to materialize back to shore as though dimensional shifting was nothing. It's this Starship Enterprise trick which distinguishes the album and the gold-backed imprint "This is the best playing of my life! - Jacques Loussier" on the liner note cover isn't empty marketing drivel. Having had time away from the Plays Bach circus to pursue other interests, the maestro's return injects vitality, freshness and inventiveness to make a great thing better still. If you're a Loussier virgin, this is the way to get on and off. If you're an audiophile virgin too, wait until your system matures. In typical Loussier style, recording quality is first-rate. It makes for a real workout of all the audiophile police holds dear. In short, a winner all around and arguably the crowning touch in the entire Loussier canon.