Born 22 August 1955, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Among the European school of boogie woogie pianists, which started in the 1970s, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Bertrand certainly ranks among the Top 5 of most important players. Bertrand was born into a family of music lovers, involved in classical music and opera. So it was only natural that he would start taking classical piano lessons at the age of seven. He received a first prize in classical piano in 1968, but already then he was fascinated by the discovery of a Memphis Slim record in a music shop. From classical piano he moved to studying boogie woogie and blues piano. However, he also had to make a living. Between 1971 and 1976 he studied at the "École hotelière" (Hotel School) in Toulouse. After working in several restaurants in Paris, he was able to open his own place, "La Table d'Harmonie" in 1984, which became both a restaurant and a jazz club, where many prominent European pianists were invited and also the great Memphis Slim, who had taken up residence in Paris as early as 1962. Apart from Memphis Slim and Albert Ammons, Bertrand was musically influenced by Jean-Paul Amouroux (a real fundamentalist of the boogie woogie genre) and German pianist Axel Zwingenberger, the man most responsible for the European revival of boogie woogie.
In 1988, Jean-Pierre had the chance to record his first LP, "Boogie Woogie Blues", a mix of classical boogies and original material. This debut album already shows his immaculate technique (his left hand is particularly strong) and versatility. It was reissued on CD in 1999 (DJAZ DJ 531-2), with one extra track. In 1989, Bertrand started organizing the "Nuits Jazz et Boogie Piano" at the Lutetia Hotel in Paris, an international festival which became a popular annual event that continues to this day, now located at the prestigious Carrousel du Louvre. The next year, 1990, Jean-Pierre decided to become a professional musician and closed his Paris restaurant, much to the regret of his numerous clients, who came not only for the music but also for the excellent food. Also in 1990, he recorded and issued an album of piano duets with the Austrian pianist Gunther Straub ("Boogie Woogie à Deux Pianos") and went to Nashville to record his third album, "Nashville Rendez-Vous" (released in 1991). Two more CD's were issued in 1994, one of which was an album of piano duets with Jean-Paul Amouroux. A prolific musician (and a great entertainer as well), Bertrand has issued seven more solo CD's between 1995 and 2006.
In 1999, he started another annual event, which developed into the most important boogie woogie festival in Europe : Le Festival de Boogie Woogie de la Roquebrou, located in south-central France. Every year, many of the greatest Boogie musicians come to La Roquebrou. For those unable to attend the event, an album is issued almost every year with the various artists that participated in the festival. Bertrand's most recent release is "Jean-Pierre Bertrand And The Real Boogie Woogie", recorded in Holland at the Collector Records private bar on June 12 & 13, 2006, under the supervision of Cees Klop, who revived his boogie woogie label (Down South, DSCD 9255) for the occasion. http://www.collectorrecords.nl/index.php?page=shop&action=showcd&id=206 Almost all of the 21 tracks are Bertrand's own compositions. Klop gives himself a co-writing credit on two tracks, including the closing number, "Collector's Boogie Woogie"(!). It 's a good CD, but not one of his best. Just Bertrand and his piano, no other instruments. There are perhaps too many fast boogies, which probably reflects Klop's taste. Though I generally like my music fast and wild, I'm also a great fan of Bertrand's slow and mid-tempo tunes.
Acknowledgements : Liner notes for the 2006 CD (by Robert Duffau).
More info: http://www.boogiewoogie.com/TEST/ARTIST/BERTRAND/jpbmaster.htm and (in French) http://www.jazzogie.org/jpb/Solo.htm
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