Jef Gilson: Best Of (1960-90) Jazzman

In the golden era ’50s – 60’s, Paris was for a while the spiritual capital of European modern jazz( uber-eat your heart out Copenhagen). Home from home not only to many visiting and resident American jazz musicians, like Donald ByrdDexter Gordon and Bud Powell, but also its own native jazz musicians like Barney Wilen, Rene Utreger and.. umm..Sacha Distel. It had jazz record labels like Vogue and Barclay, and leading jazz venues like Club St.Germain, all links to LJC  jazz on vinyl French connections, including several pictured below,  worth checking out.

You may not be able to travel to France right now, but thanks to vinyl, we are going to travel the spacewaves to visit some French jazz , in the form of Jef Gilson,  a name which may not be familar. Draw up a bistro table, order café au lait and pain au chocolat, and virtually tuck in.

I normally steer clear of “Best Of…” compilations, usually a sure sign that a musician’s career is over, but this retrospective double album, issued in 2012,  seemed a good way into the catalogue of this intruiging artist, a springboard to individual titles which may be worth pursuing further.

A “kangaroo” post – a modern compilation,The Best of Jef Gilson, and in the kangaroo’s pouch, one track featured from one album within The Best Of… It’s a new angle, for new jazz territory, not too foreign, one foot still in home territory.Jef Gilson (real name, Jean-François Quiévreux, 1926 – 2013)

Gilson was a leading figure in French jazz for over three decades. He attracted an interesting series of artists, including the young jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and varied expatriates like cult figure Nathan Davis, and, for the selection of choice, Philly Joe Jones  on shore leave. A “French Gil Evans” figure: pianist, saxophonist, composer, arranger, band leader, and founder of the French jazz label Palm, pictured below, a title which coincidentally includes the Gilson composition Espagnolade.

All-Music (link to Best Of Gilson short samples):

“Gilson came up in the ’60s and played in a straight-ahead hard bop style and also made forays into Afro-jazz and free jazz, including a noteworthy version of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan.”

He featured the young violinist Jean Luc Ponty on some early recordings…. during his career the pianist led numerous ensembles ranging from trios to creative big bands .   


Gerald “Jazzman” Short , who the other year brought us the 10 LP vinyl boxset of Tubby Hayes, outstanding quality transfers from the original Decca tapes,  has championed Gilson’s recording career.

Feature album within the Best Of Jef Gilson compilation, a more familiar name,  Philly Joe Jones, on the French Vogue label.

Selection: Espagnolade (Gilson) from the The Best Of Jef Gilson

.  .  .


Jean-Charles Capon, cello ; Guy Pedersen, Jean-François Catoire, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums; Jef Gilson, piano; Jean-Louis Chautemps tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone;  Benny Vasseur, Luis Fuentes, trombone; recorded March 31st, 1969, Paris.


Original Vinyl: Vogue CLVLX 357

The original Philly Joe title is Impressively rare and collectable, according to Popsike, maxing at over $400.

In passing, Youtube offers  another selection from the original Philly Joe album.

Back to:The Best Of Jef Gilson

From Gilson’s discography the album Jef Gilson a Gaveau: “Modalite Pour Mimi”,  a very French lyrical melody given the big band treatment. Puts me in mind of driving a scooter around the Arc de Triumphe with Audrey Hepburn on pillion, no helmets.

Vinyl: JMANLP 042 Jazzman Records (2011) x2 LPs

Inner sleeves:


At 3000 pixels wide, just readable, though the original is barely so. Scholarship, yes, but font size, too small’ Jazzman!

Collector’s Corner

Jazzman’s official stream of Gilson & Malagasy:  Pharoah’s The Creator Has A Masterplan:

Concluding this French-themed post, the author of a new book wrote to  introduce me to  the cover-art of vintage French jazz, posted here for any LJC readers who may be interested, I know some live in France. No financial interest to declare, I’d just  like to see more like this.

French JAZZ 10′ inches from 1952 to 1962

The Book (link)

The Author, Pascal Ferrer :” French Collector, I buy and collect Blues and Jazz Records, books and documents since 1975. Early I have been surprised by the richness of French Jazz. The period 1952 – 1962 is the golden aera of Jazz in France with the creation of label Vogue in 1947 by Léon Cabat, Charles Delaunay and Albert Ferreri. Many Records companies were created at that time. French Jazz production was large and diversified. Paris in the fifties was the center of culture, literature, artistic creation and of course Jazz in Europe. In this book we aim to promote the Art Graphics of Jazz records issued during this period. These only 10 inches Jazz covers are the reflection of an era , and the talented expression of designers today forgotten. Have a walk with us in French Jazz during the fifties.

“This 174-pages book is published in a luxurious format of 11,8 x 11,8 in with hard cover. We have worked hard to enhance the high-definition covers of Jazz records, they are alphabetically classified by labels. More than 220 Jazz covers are combined, in the exclusive format of the 25 cms (ten inches) whose production stretches from 1952 to 1962. These records of Jazz recorded in France exclude foreign reissues. Many rare documents complete this discographic panorama, some are unpublished.”

The text is bi-lingual French/ English. Payment via Paypal – personal check – international bank tranfer : to buy this book or information. (contact link) 174 pages, private édition of 350 copies, large size 30 x 30 cms , weight 1.80 kgs. Price : 100 $ + 20 $ Postage with registered mail


À bientôt, as they say in France, see you soon ( for now,  just not very soon).

Never forget, travel broadens the mind, staying home just broadens the bottom.

Any French jazz connections or reminiscenses out there?

UPDATE: Harry M has the picture – Philly Joe Jones, Jazz Expo 1968

Photo-credit: Harry M

5 thoughts on “Jef Gilson: Best Of (1960-90) Jazzman

  1. Not forgetting either that Jazzman are also still offering the 4CD ‘Et Malagasy’ set which I believe has all those rare LPs plus unreleased material at a very good price. Not on LP but can’t complain !


  2. A few of the albums featured in that top image have been lovingly reissued by French label Sam Records and are quality alternatives to the originals, which are generally both rare and somewhat pricey. Not one, but two Jef Gilson albums were among Sam’s 2020 output.


  3. I’ve met just a few important jazz players, but the only jazzman of any renown with whom I actually yucked it up was the drummer Duffy Jackson in Paris. Walking around the city in my student days, I stumbled upon Le Caveau de la Huchette where his group was playing. Maybe because he pegged me for an American or maybe just because I was drinking alone, Duffy plopped down next to me between sets and soon had me in stitches. Great drummer; great club; great night.


  4. My French connection involves a brief backpacking visit in my early 20s, and an affinity for Ascenseur pour l’échafaud by Miles Davis. I also own Impulse! A-36, which is a recording of a German concert featuring Americans living in France. So I’m practically French.


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