Jazz pianists Michel Legrand and Jacques Loussier do not really qualify as jazzmen but both have made contributions to the music. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Jacques Loussier Trio, who are best known for their swinging reinterpretations of J.S. Bach's compositions. The title Jacques Loussier Plays Bach: The 50th Anniversary Recording, on Telarc, is misleading. The recordings predate the current trio that comprise bassist Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac, drummer Andre Arpino and Loussier. This lineup, the leader believes, is the best there has been, but he credits bassist Vincent Charbonnier, who injected new life into the format when the trio were revived in 1985, with laying the foundations for a more adventurous approach to the classics. It is Charbonnier who performs on all Bach selections here, which although they are undated, must have been recorded before 1997 when the bassist suffered a stroke. Jazz and classical music purists usually dislike Loussier, saying his music fails to measure up to the highest standards of either discipline. That is perhaps true but it remains a worthwhile intermingling of elements of different but related styles, and the more recent recordings are particularly worth hearing. Those here find Loussier, Charbonnier and Arpino beginning to take their music to a new level. The Legrand album also comprises old recordings that have long been unavailable. Legrand Jazz has been reissued on Essential Jazz Classics, coupled, on the same disc, with Miles Davis' soundtrack for Louis Malle's film Ascenseur Pour l'Echafaud, a wise pairing. Legrand has made a number of jazz albums over the years, all featuring noteworthy players, but this is the most star-studded. Although he is a fine jazz pianist he does not play on these sessions, but he conducts many of the best American musicians of the era through his own arrangements of jazz standards ranging from Louis Armstrong's Wild Man Blues and Bix Beiderbecke's In a Mist to more contemporary fare such as John Lewis' Django. Legrand says the album came about after his record company, pleased at sales of his previous album, I Love Paris - for which he received a modest fee - wanted to repay him. 'I said 'I want to make a jazz album with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Bill Evans, Hank Jones, and Phil Woods',' says Legrand. He got his wish. Legrand's arrangements impressed the musicians. There is fine playing from a range of players who by this time were lead performers, but were happy to act as sidemen for these sessions. Legrand Jazz was recorded in the US and represents a French arranger's take on American tunes played by American musicians. The soundtrack for Ascenseur Pour l'Echafaud was recorded in Paris and features Davis leading a largely French group comprising Pierre Michelot - the original bassist in the Jacques Loussier Trio - saxophonist Barney Wilen, pianist Rene Urtreger and Paris resident expatriate American drummer Kenny Clarke. It is a landmark Davis album that includes early experiments in the use of very loose structures for group improvisation. For Davis completists there is a Fontana edition of the soundtrack that includes all the outtakes. This CD presents only the film music originally released in 1958 and is much more listenable. With a highly informative CD booklet containing both new liner notes and the originals, this is a good buy.