Raymond Fol: Rediscovering Raymond Fol

Pianist brother of the better-known clarinettist Hubert played extensively with Americans in postwar Paris and was admired by Duke Ellington


Certain musicians get passed by for one reason or another, and pianist Raymond Fol was one of those. Born into a musical family, with an older brother, clarinettist Hubert, he worked regularly in post-war Paris, was used extensively by visiting Americans, highly regarded by Duke Ellington and a regular fixture at the Club St. Germain in Paris. However, it wasn’t until 1956 that he got his own recording session as a leader.

Many of the tracks here are trio settings which show traces of Duke and Bud Powell, in the pared-down left hand chords, middle-register solos and melodic flourishes. Of the standards, Miles Davis’s Tune Up shows Fol’s vigorous, competent playing; Pannonica has occasional Monkish embellishments in a flowing manner; on It Never Entered My Mind a distinct, individual style comes across. Fol’s own compositions vary between the lively Ro-Ma-No and Out Of Art, the romantic Lazy Lady Daisy, and Oh My Lord, with its gospel/soulish call and response.

Fol backs vocalist Annie Fratellini on It Had To Be You and Why Do I Love You – a night-club feel, with muted horn from the ever dependable Roger Guerin. A visit to Rome saw Fol with trumpeter Nunzio Rotondo, whose Chet Baker influence is heard in his phrasing and structure, rather than tone, the quartet’s Thrilling the pick of these.

Despite a piano that needs attention, Unknown 1 and 2 (with its occasional stride piano inflections) and Circeo give a taste of the changes that were to come in Fol’s approach, as by 1960 he appeared to incorporate more invention and exploration into his playing. This is apparent on the second disc, on Little Niles, Melancholia and Scandianavian, but none more so than on It Ain’t Necessarily So, its tempo changes reflecting the changing moods.

Fol is included in a Donald Byrd session at Theatre des Capucines on Hush, Art Taylor providing the pulse and brother Hubert on alto, whilst the last few numbers are Fol’s arrangements with a septet; a broadcast heightened by three trumpets, driven by René Nan’s drums and Jean-Charles Capon‘s cello thrown in for good measure.

An enjoyable set and something of a revelation. Once again, hats off to Jordi Pujol (informative booklet included) and Fresh Sound.

CD1: (1) John’s Groove; Tune Up; Ro-Ma-No; Lazy Lady Daisy; (2) Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; Unknown No.1: Unknown No.2; It Never Entered My Mind; Pannonica; Time In My Hands; I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart; (3) It Had To Be You; Why Do I Love You?; (4) Circeo; (5) De Concilio; Noi E Lord; Thrilling; (6) Oh My Lord; Out Of Art; Lazy Lady Daisy; Circeo; (7) Afternoon In Paris; Oh My Lord.(78.15)
CD2: (8) Blues; Where Is Salvador?; Out Of Art; It Ain’t Necessarily So; (9) Unknown No.3; (10) Hush; (11) Little Niles; Melancholia; Scandianavian; (12) Andox; Where Is Salvador?; Circonference; Aquarius Moon; Tristan; Out Of Art. (71.54)
Fol (p) with:
(1) Michel Finet (b); Jean-Baptiste “Mac Kac” Reilles (d). Paris, 13 April 1956,
(2) Unknown (b & d) Paris, 1957-8.
(3) Annie Fratellini (v); Roger Guerin (t); Sacha Distel (g); Pierre Michelot (b); Kenny Clarke (d). Paris, 1958.
(4) Gilbert “Bibi” Rovere (b); Gilberto Cupini (d). Rome, 26 March 1959.
(5) Add Nunzio Rotondo (t); Enzo Scoppa (ts). Same date.
(6) Bibi Rovere (b); Christian Garros (d). Paris, October 1960.
(7) Rovere (b); Philippe Combelle or Charles Bellonzi (d). Paris, c1960.
(8) Rovere (b); Bellonzi (d). Paris, c1961.
(9) Michel Gaudry (b); Bellonzi (d). Theatre des Capuycines, Paris, 7 Dec 1964.
(10) Donald Byrd (t); Hubert Fol (as); Gaudry (b); Art Taylor (d). Same date.
(11) Alby Cullaz (b); Bellonzi (d). Paris, 22 May 1965.
(12) Guerin, Maurice Thomas, Ivan Julian (t); Jean-Charles Capon (clo); Luigi Trussardi (b); Rene Nan (d). Paris, 22 April 1967.
Fresh Sound Records FSR-CD 1124