Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bernard Peiffer - Bernie's Tunes

Bernard Peiffer was born on October 23, 1922 in Epinal, Alsace-Lorraine, a long disputed Germanic area in northeastern France. He was the second of three children born to Marcel and Angele Peiffer. Marcel, a career military man and strict disciplinarian, was a violinist and chamber music devotee. He had great aspirations for his young son to develop into a classical concert artist. An uncle, Georges Peiffer, was a composer and church organist. Bernard began his formal music study at the age of nine; he studied piano and harmony privately with Pierre Maire, a noted pedagogue and a student of Nadia Boulanger. Peiffer reputedly dazzled older students with his extraordinary tonal memory, playing back extended sections of classical pieces by ear. Suffering the loss of his mother as a young teenager, Bernard continued his intensive study at Ecole Normale de Paris, the Marseille Conservatory, and the Paris Conservatory. At the age of nineteen he won the coveted and revered Premier Prix d'Excellence. His career as a classical artist and the realization of his father's dreams seemed assured. However, after hearing some recordings of Fats Waller on the radio Bernard became passionate about jazz. Within weeks he was able to imitate Waller to perfection, and soon discovered Art Tatum. The rhythmic complexity of jazz, its creative freedom, and its improvisational basis drew him deeper into the music; he soon developed a two-handed virtuosic style similar to that of his earliest influences. In 1943, at the age of 20, Bernard Peiffer made his professional debut with alto saxophonist André Ekyan. Soon after, he was hired by Django Reinhardt to play with a ten-piece band at "Boeuf Sur Le Toit" in Paris. Bernard credited Reinhardt with teaching him the music business, and Django predicted a brilliant career for Peiffer. Their musical association and friendship continued through the years ; Django, not known for his fondness of working with pianists, would often show up nightly to Bernard's engagements to "sit in." The German occupation of France was at its peak in 1943...

Bernard Peiffer
Bernie's Tunes

Tracks

1 Lover, Come Back to Me (Hammerstein, Romberg)  6:13
2 You Took Advantage of Me (Hart, Rodgers)  3:37
3 Rhumblues (Feather)  2:33
4 'S Wonderful (Gershwin, Gershwin)  3:38
5 Black Moon (Peiffer)  5:18
6 Ah-Leu-Cha (Parker)  4:19
7 Blues on the Wing (Peiffer)  6:32
8 Bernie's Tune (Miller, Mulligan)  3:15
9 Lullaby of the Leaves (Petkere, Young)  3:19
10 Blues for Slobs (Peiffer)  4:20

*

Personnel
[# 1-5]

Bernard Peiffer - p
Joe Puma - g
Oscar Pettiford - b
[# 6-10]

Bernard Peiffer - p
Joe Puma - g
Chuck Andrus - b
Ed Thigpen - dr
Recorded in New York City on April 11, 1956

________
...Bernard joined the French Resistance Movement soon after witnessing the execution of his best friend on a city street at the hands of the Gestapo. Although the sequence of events is unclear, he was pursued and captured by the Nazis and on one occasion escaped on a stolen motorcycle that he drove daringly through the French countryside. Bernard's sister Francoise recalls him being sent to Germany for "forced labor" early in the decade. Sometime after the liberation of Paris in August 1944, he mysteriously failed to show up for a gig with the Eddie Barclay Orchestra : he had joined the French Army where he served until 1946. Out of the army, he resumed his music career, playing concerts for the French Hot Club at the Salle Pleyel and continuing his association with Django Reinhardt. He toured with the leading names in French jazz and concertized throughout Europe. In February 1948, he performed in Nice at one of the world's first jazz festivals; it was there that Peiffer's playing so impressed Ellington alumnus Rex Stewart that he hired Bernard to tour and record with his band. By 1949 Bernard was a national name. He recorded with Don Byas, James Moody, Kenny Clarke, performed with Sidney Bechet, and led his own group at the Club Saint-Germain-des-Pres. He also became involved in writing for films and appears playing some dazzling stride piano in Jacques Becker's Rendez-vous de Juillet. He was often invited to play with the best visiting American musicians : a recorded jam session from May 1949 teams Peiffer with Kenny Dorham, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, and Max Roach, among others. Through the early 1950s his career flourished: he won a Jazz Hot Magazine award, composed soundtracks for films, experimented with musique concrete, and made a series of jazz of recordings ; his first as leader, recorded for the Blue Star label, won the Grand Prix du Disque award in 1953. A star in the clubs of Paris, Monte Carlo and Nice, Bernard attracted the attention of visiting American musicians like Lionel Hampton, Hazel Scott, and Oscar Peterson. One evening after performing in a "Jazz at the Philharmonic" concert, Peterson was observed at The Ringside nightclub where he stood in awe watching Peiffer's hands flying over the keys. Alain Tercinet observed, "His intuition, dazzling speed and strokes of genius served by a faultless piano technique ... had no equivalent on the Paris jazz scene." Barry Ulanov wrote, "Nobody I've heard matches his skills as an improviser and his thorough knowledge of his instrument." In December 1954, Bernard Peiffer left his successful career in France and immigrated to the United States. Influenced by the encouragement of his colleagues and his own commitment to artistic growth, Bernard immersed himself in the American jazz scene and American culture. He would later say, "My work has certainly changed since I've been here. I get a jazz feeling I never could get in France, because I've been able to live with some of the folklore and customs of America. It would work the other way around. If anybody wanted to get really inside the music of Debussy or Ravel, he would have to live close to the French people. Jazz, like pure French wine, is from the ground where it has gathered the essence of its surroundings for years and years." He settled in Philadelphia and was soon joined by his wife Corine and baby daughter Rebecca. Frederique, his daughter from an earlier marriage to singer Monique Dozo, remained in Paris. His first American-born child, Pascale, arrived in 1956 ; her tragic illness and death at the age of two profoundly affected Bernard and is reflected in his moving ballad Poem for a Lonely Child. Son Stephan was born in 1962. During his first decade in the United States, Bernard's career included some successes. A landmark concert at Philadelphia's Academy of Music in 1956 featured Peiffer performing a two-part program of solo classical repertoire followed by his jazz group. His performance at the 1957 Newport Festival prompted a New York Times reviewer to note, "Although George Shearing and Erroll Garner were the pianists featured on the evening program, a French pianist, Bernard Peiffer, who appeared during the afternoon session, elicited the greatest interest." A nationwide tour, successful performances at Carnegie Hall, Birdland, and the Composer Room, television and radio appearances, and the release of seven albums, all indicate a measure of success. Unfortunately he also fell into extended periods of inept management, poor promotion, intermittent activity, and problems with record labels. After the release of his final commercially produced album in 1965 and kidney surgery at the end of the decade, Bernard spent more time performing and teaching in Philadelphia. He did some touring with his trio, played on college campuses, and made a trip to Los Angeles for appearances at Donte's in September 1970. Reviewing the Donte's performance for the Los Angeles Times, Leonard Feather wrote, "Bernard Peiffer doesn't just play the piano. He conducts hit-and-run commando raids on it ...fellow pianists from Roger Kellaway to Hampton Hawes sat open-mouthed." In 1974 he performed at the Newport-New York Festival solo piano night in Carnegie Hall. He brought the house down. "I thought Carnegie was going to explode," he later said. Bernard continued to teach and perform around Philadelphia until his kidney problems worsened in 1976. He died on September 7. He was 53 years old. His career, which started with such acclaim and promise in France, never reached the level of success in the United States that critics and fellow musicians expected. Since Peiffer's death his music has fallen into near obscurity, and much of his most creative and visionary playing has never been available. Fortunately, friends and associates taped a significant amount of the playing that he did around Philadelphia. The music on Formidable was recorded between 1970 and 1975 and released in early 2006. It offers the best document available of the extraordinary musical contributions of Bernard Peiffer.

Source : http://www.bernardpeiffer.com/news.html

50 comments:

David Federman said...

When I was a student at Central High School in Philadelphia in 1956through 1958, Bernard Peiffer performed at least two concerts that I can remember for student assembly. They were wonderful. I always wondered why he never became more widely known. Thanks for this album. I will tell all my other friends who remember those concerts that this recital is available on line.

Heervee said...

Thanks Mel for this post and the comment which a giving back a sense to history and the right credit to BP.

swingingduck said...

Man, I am speechless. I thought that I would never see this again.
Many thanks for this lost jewel and such great and detalied info.

philojack said...

MERCI BEAUCOUP !
You post so many good records (and some quite rare too). This one was long awaited.
Thank you.

By the way the one I am getting mad seraching for is Dizzy' Birk's Works, but not the Verve, the sextet in Birdland with Coltrane (Duke D1019). If by any chance...
And if you look for one which I have I would gladly rip it for you.

Many thanks again.

PlantDoctor53 said...

That's an amazing post Mel - thank you.

Morris said...

This is really good stuff! Another great share.

Thank you so much!
Morris

mel said...

I don't believe I have ever seen any Bernard Peiffer posted anywhere before.

Thank you very much!

- mel468

Miklos said...

Thank you ***very much*** for posting this! I had heard of this album a long time ago. Can't wait to listen to it. Cheers!

yewsta said...

Many thanks.

the jazzman said...

Nice one. Thanks.

Bhowani said...

peiffer

exceptionnelle contribution !

thanks beaucoup mel !

Anonymous said...

Uau i never heard about this guy. Thanks a lot melocoton! You are the best :-)

BP

Larry said...

This is an incredible recording -- thanks so much for the share...!

jazzmusician said...

merci bien.
a true gem !!!

dreadco said...

Just wonderful. Thank you very much.

peris said...

Thanks Mel for this and all the great shares!

Peris

VeryBlasted said...

il est fantastique

MrBill said...

Thank you, sir.

grumpy said...

Another great post, thanks.

Cosmo Vitelli said...

This is a fine reading -in a fine blog- that make grow in you the curiosity for the music of such deep lived man.
Good work, thank you

Anonymous said...

Thanks still big bad tune out there ...

Eric said...

Thank you for this rare example of a forgotten master. You have offered so much good music and I have to confess that I don't always thank you for each download. So thank you, thank you and thank you.

cvllos said...

It would be great if anyone could rip and share his "FORMIDABLE" recording.
And congrats to Melanchthon for promoting such a special pianist.

FrankDell said...

Tremendous. Love his introduction of the players. As always, merci Mel.

duck said...

Totally unknown to me. judging by the comments above it is my loss, now fixed thanks to you, thanks as always Mel

Heervee said...

another thanks for these 3 musiciens from my favorite list! and alltogether!

jazzfan1 said...

Happy new year, and thanks for this great resource.

I'd love to see more Peiffer. Not just Formidable, but also:
Bernard Peiffer Piano A La Mood
The Astounding Bernard Peiffer
Bernard Peiffer The Pied Peiffer Of The Piano
Bernard Peiffer Modern Jazz for People Who Like Original Music

And, while I'm at it:
Mal Waldron Plays Eric Satie
Ervin Nyiregyházi Plays Liszt

Unknown said...

Would love to get a flac of Peiffer's Decca albums, especially
The Astounding Bernard Peiffer.
Ray Pratt

Unknown said...

Still hoping for more Bernard Peiffer--especially the Decca "The Astounding Bernard Peiffer"
Ray Pratt (DRRay3)

Unknown said...

Still looking for a flac copy of Bernard Peiffer's two Decca LPs. Especially "The Astounding Bernard Peiffer". Please!
DrRay3

The Jackal said...

Dear Mel,

What an informative write up. Sold..
Thank you for my continuing education, and your taste and vision

musician3 said...

INCREDIBLE.......................THANK YOU FOR ALL

Fred Archtop said...

Thanks for this gem Mel.

deGallo said...

Very nice! Thank you.

Thelonious Frisell said...

Enfin Peiffer! Un immense merci Mel. Continue ton bon travail.

Otis Foster said...

Wonderful melanchthon. Thanks for this and other gems you've shared with us.

AmyBRAINS said...

WONDERFUL!
Many, many thanks, Melanchthon.

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You

rambert said...

Some one I was not aware of, but it sounds great! Again, thanks for the education!

Scraps said...

Wow, I never heard of him, but looks like I should...

MichaelW said...

Could you please reup this one? Thanks.

Melanchthon said...

http://www119.zippyshare.com/v/OogpwdoJ/file.html
http://www119.zippyshare.com/v/Sdl2jjVg/file.html

sep troelstra said...

Thanks a lot!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you dear MM, very, very interesting artist. And thanks for the informative historical/bio note, such background info is always highly appreciated. It is a pity Mr. Peiffer did not get the recognition he deserved, he has a beautiful rhythm/swing touch in his playing, astounding for a man who was raised as "a career military man and strict disciplinarian".

jazzfan1 said...

More Peiffer, please! Especially the Decca LPs:

Bernard Peiffer Piano A La Mood
The Astounding Bernard Peiffer
Bernard Peiffer The Pied Peiffer Of The Piano

Kovina Kris said...

The write up and all of the comments have me wanting to hear this one for sure. Thank you Mel!

Angel said...

All right, Mel!

Dante A. said...

thanks a lot for this rare record

sandor essedy said...

Very great thanks!!

Olde Edo said...

Thank you so much for this Bernard Peiffer disc! What a
fantastic technique and imagination! He shows off his
classical roots, but still remains true to the feeling of jazz.
I am much obliged for this introduction to his music.