Martial Solal

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

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


Solal was born in Algiers, North Africa, to French parents. He was persuaded to study clarinet, saxophone, and piano by his mother, who was an opera singer. He was kicked out of school in 1942 because of his father's Jewish ancestry. Algeria was a French colony, and the Vichy government 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 fifteen, he performed publicly for U.S. Army audiences.[1]

After settling in Paris in 1950, he began working with Django Reinhardt and expatriates from the United States such as Sidney Bechet and Don Byas. 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 twenty scores. He composed music for Jean-Luc Godard's debut feature film Breathless (À bout de souffle, 1960).

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. 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.

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".


His jazz approach was once described as "brilliant, unique and intellectual"[2] 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." [3]

Selective Discography

  • 1954 French Modern Sounds (Contemporary)
  • 1954 Martial Solal Trio (Disques Vogue)
  • 1957 When a Soprano Meets a Piano (Inner City)
  • 1961 Martial Solal (Vogue)
  • 1962 The Martial Solal Trio in Concert (Columbia)
  • 1962 Trio in Concert (Liberty)
  • 1963 In Concert (Liberty)
  • 1963 Martial Solal Trio at Newport 1963 (RCA)
  • 1965 Martial Solal Trio (Columbia)
  • 1965 Son 66 (Columbia)
  • 1968 European Episode with Lee Konitz (Campi)
  • 1968 Impressive Rome with Lee Konitz (Campi)
  • 1970 Locomotion (with Henry Texier and Bernard Lubat)
  • 1974 Jazz à Juan (SteepleChase)
  • 1975 7 + 4 = X (PDU)
  • 1975 Nothing but Piano (MPS)
  • 1976 Movability (MPS)
  • 1977 Duplicity with Lee Konitz (Horo)
  • 1978 Suite for Trio (Universal)
  • 1979 Four Keys (MPS)
  • 1980 Live at the Berlin Jazz Days 1980 with Lee Konitz (MPS)
  • 1980 Happy Reunion (Sunnyside)
  • 1981 Big Band (Universal)
  • 1983 Bluesine (Soul Note)
  • 1983 Star Eyes, Hamburg 1983 with Lee Konitz (HatOLOGY)
  • 1984 Big Band (BMG/Dreyfus)
  • 1984 Plays Hodeir (OMDCD)
  • 1988 9.11 pm Town Hall (Label Bleu)
  • 1991 Triptyque (Adda)
  • 1991 Duo in Paris (BMG/Dreyfus)
  • 1992 Martial Solal & Toots Thielemans (Erato)
  • 1996 Difficult Blues (John Marks Records)
  • 1996 Triangle (JMS)
  • 1998 Silent Cinema – Cinema Muet (Gorgone)
  • 1998 Just Friends (Dreyfus)
  • 1998 Martial Solal, Vol. 2 (Vogue)
  • 1999 Balade du 10 Mars (Soul Note)
  • 1999 En Solo (Fresh Sound)
  • 2000 Plays Ellington (Dreyfus)
  • 2000 Sans Tambour Ni Trompette (Denwa Productions)
  • 2000 Contrastes: The Jazzpar Prize (Storyville)
  • 2000 In and Out (Dreyfus)
  • 2002 Locomotion (Nocturne)
  • 2003 NY1 (Blue Note)
  • 2005 Comptines Pour Enfants Seulement (Doumtak)
  • 2006 Rue de Seine (CAM Jazz)
  • 2006 Portrait in Black and White (Nocturne/Plus Loin)
  • 2007 Exposition Sans Tableau (Nocturne)
  • 2007 Solitude (CAM Jazz)
  • 2008 Longitude (CAM Jazz)
  • 2009 Live at the Village Vanguard (CAM Jazz)
  • 2015 Works for Piano and Two Pianos (Naxos)
  • 2017 Masters in Bordeaux (Sunnyside)
  • 2018 Histoires Improvisées (Paroles et musique) (JMS)[4]


  1. arwulf, arwulf. "Martial Solal". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  2. 88 notes pour piano solo, Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Neva Editions, 2015, p. 357. ISBN 978-2-3505-5192-0
  3. (Martial Solal interviewed by Larry Appelbaum just before his concert at the Library of Congress, April 11, 2011).
  4. "Martial Solal | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
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