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René Urtreger

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René Urtreger (born July 6, 1934) is a French bebop pianist.

Urtreger was born in Paris and began his piano studies at the age of four. In his adolescence he furthered them in the Conservatory of Classical Music. He studied with an orientation toward jazz, playing in a small Parisian club, the “Sully d’ Auteil.” Conducted by Hubert Damisch, the Sully boasted an orchestra of talented students including Sacha Distel and Louis Viale.

In 1953, he won first prize in a piano contest for amateurs, and from that moment decided to be a professional musician. In 1954, he accompanied in a Parisian concert two great American expatriates: saxophonist Don Byas and trumpeter Buck Clayton. Their collaboration in the “Salone du Jazz” became one of the most highly-requested French performances by the American musicians that toured the French capital.
After serving in the military from 1955 to 1957, Urtreger would play in a club on the left bank of the Seine, the famous “St Germain.” Again he collaborated with two jazz masters: Miles Davis and Lester Young. His work so impressed the latter that Urteger accompanied Young for a short tour of Europe in 1956. In December 1957, he was part of Davis’s group which recorded the soundtrack to the film Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows).

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