Europeans always liked and supported jazz since the beginning, when they first heard James Reese's Europe HellFigthers. At the beginning of the 20th century when jazz was regarded as inferior black music, some European classical composers were among the first to recognize the richness and the quality of this new music. And when jazz legends like Miles, Duke and Dizzy went to Europe, especially to France, they were treated as royalty in a time when back in the U.S., they were not allowed to stay in the same hotels with white jazz musicians. So, it is no wonder a lot of great jazz music and musicians come from Europe, like these amazing musicians from France, the Francis Demange Quartet. Their CD, Living Standards, is precisely that; a collection of interesting and unique jazz standards.
Living Standards begins with the melodies of "On Green Dolphin Street," played over a repetitive piano motif and changing into chord harmonization for the piano improvisations.
The tempo speeds up on a piece I have not heard in a while, Con Conrad's "The Continental," with another great piano solo by Francis Demange. Bertrand's warm tone and fabulous sense of time can be fully appreciated on the jazzy version of Tom Jobim's "The Girl from Ipanema" and "All the Things You Are," a piece that starts with a syncopated intro then changing back and forth between a faster and slower tempo.
A slow arrangement of "Giant Steps" shows this Coltrane composition is not just a pyrotechnic exercise, but a quality, melodic and harmonic piece. On Paul Desmonds "Take Five," the melodies are played as a duo of saxophones with special guest Sylvain Gontard on trumpet. In the improvisations, bass and piano quotes another classic, "So What." The quartet does a different, but equally interesting kind of arrangement on Toots Thielemans' "Bluesette," beginning fast and gradually slowing the tempo.