Monday, February 6, 2012

Jef Gilson, 1926 - 2012

I woke up today to the very unfortunate and sad news that French jazz pianist, producer and composer Jef Gilson had past away yesterday (02/05/12). Gilson was the brilliant mind behind a number of incredible, yet over-looked recordings during the late sixties and early seventies. His music spanned from big band and large led ensemble work to his later explorations with African influenced spiritual jazz. Some of his notable recordings included the early seventies Malagasy, Soul of Africa and Malagasy At Newport-Paris albums that brought together a mixture of both French and African based musicians, as well the modal free jazz masterpiece Œil Vision and the hard-to-find early sixties european jazz record Enfin!. Throughout the pianists many recordings, he collaborated with a number of jazz legends including Hal Singer, Lloyd Miller, Sahib Shihab, Bill Coleman, Philly Joe Jones, Jean-Luc Ponty and many others. Some of my favorite tracks from Gilson included the Afro-jazz gem "Chant Inca", his mind-blowing version of Pharaoh Sanders' cult classic "The Creator has a Masterplan" and the percussive-heavy "Valiha Del" from 1973. For those that have encountered Gilson's music will agree that his name deserves to be mentioned in the same breathe as many other jazz legends, however due to the fact that many of his records were released by very small independent labels, the Parisian pianist hasn't received the kind of attention that he truly deserves. At this point, it's pretty shocking to know that there isn't even an English written Wikipedia entry for him. Hopefully in time, the world will begin to take notice of all the amazing recordings and music this brilliant artist left us to enjoy.

Rest in peace, Jef Gilson.

To learn more and hear samples of Jef Gilson's music, check out these websites:

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