Mardi Soir Sessions volume I - The Paris Connection

The Mardi Soir sessions are a monthly rendez-vous presenting a one hour long musical journey. They go by themes, each times presenting a different area of the wide spectrum that defines the  musical habitat of Los Hermanos Brothers. Sometimes they come with a story, sometimes they don't...but by the end of day it's all about ... The Music.

So for those of you that skipped the intro here's the first episode:

The Paris Connection - Los Hermanos Brothers:
The Paris Connection by Los Hermanos Brothers

here's a link to download: http://www.mediafire.com/?ob6ad433g7l10ro

TRACKLIST: Mardi Soir Sessions (Vol.1):
“The Paris Connection”

1.    Serge Gainsbourg – Du jazz dans le ravin
2.    Barney Wilen – Swing39
3.    Horace Silver – Cape Verdean Blues
4.    Blue Mitchel – Hi-heel Sneakers
5.    Charles Lloyd – Sombrero Sam
6.    Duke Ellington / Coleman Hawkins – Limbo Jazz
7.    Louis Armstrong – I'm crazy 'bout my baby
8.    Billie Holiday – What a little moonlight can do
9.    Benny Goodman & his Orchestra – Sing, sing, sing
10.    Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Night in Tunisia
11.    Dizzie Gillespie – Mas que nada
12.    Norman Connors ft. Freddie Hubbard - Samba for Maria 

A group of fugitive bank robbers takes refuge in a youth reform center, holding the management hostage. At first, the pupils are impressed by the gangster's bravoure, but finally their solidarity towards the management prevails and they succeed in rendering the criminals up to the police. Directed by Hervé Bromberger in 1959, this combination of social drama and genuine French polar entitled « Loups dans la bergerie », was Gainsbourg's first opportunity to write a music score for a film as well as his first attempt at composing jazz. The late Serge Gainsbourg made a name for himself fairly early in his recording career with his combination of French cabaret, drunken bordello music and extravagant exotica. The compositions he made for « Loups dans la bergerie » however, can undeniably be labelled cool jazz, though they are rarely given time to develop and feature no major soloists. Most of these songs, such as angoisse,  black march,  fugue or wake me at five can be found on the 20-track collection Du Jazz Dans le Ravin which samples Gainsbourg's early work from between 1958 and 1964. Gainsbourg's jazz sides clearly presage his future work and offer much of the same attitude and outlook which defined his later, more provocative music. 

Paris, jazz, film music... evidently the French tenor and soprano saxophonist Barney Wilen comes to mind. Barney Wilen's mother was French, his father a successful American dentist-turned-inventor. He grew up mostly on the French Riviera. According to Wilen himself, he was convinced to become a musician by his mother's friend, the poet Blaise Cendrars. As a teenager he started a youth jazz club in Nice, where he often played He moved to Paris in the mid-'50s and worked with American musicians such as Bud Powell, Miles Davis and J.J. Johnson at the Club St-Germain. Barney Wilen made a strong impression on the Paris scene in the mid 1950s. He was a self taught player and became one of Europe's best and more modern saxophonists.

His emerging reputation received a boost in 1957 when he played with Davis on the soundtrack to the Louis Malle film « Ascenseur pour l'échafaud ». Two years later, he performed with Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk on the soundtrack to Roger Vadim's « Les Liaisons Dangereuses », a modern (1959) adaptation of the once scandalous French novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. It pits one woman's desire to manipulate others against the power of real love. Vadim's film brought Jeanne Moreau to an international audience, and even features the ardent jazz devotee and Saint-Germain resident Boris Vian in the role of Prévan. The film's score was composed by Jack Murray, with featured music by Thelonious Monk, and consists of an interesting set of tracks that feature the 1958-1959 version of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with trumpeter Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons, bass player Jymie Merritt, and tenorman ... Barney Wilen!

Thelonious Monk was supposed to write the soundtrack while on tour in Paris, but, unfortunately that tour was cancelled so Marcel Romano, who was responsible for the soundtrack had to go to New York with the scripts and a list with the exact timings for each scene. Monk recorded with his quintet, featuring Charlie Rouse and Barney Wilen on tenor saxophones, Sam Jones on bass and Art Taylor on drums. They recorded part of the sound track at the Nola Studios in New York around the 27th of July 1959. This session was used in the film, but it seems that it was never released on record. Art Blakey with his Messengers played the music from the so-called « party-scenes at Miguel's » used in the film on the 28th and 29th of July 1959.
Shot from the film with Kenny Clarke on drums and Kenny Dorham on trumpet
This so-called « Miguel's party » is remarkable, because on the film set some musicians were merely acting on other musicians music: Kenny Dorham is the trumpet player on screen, but the trumpet playing on the soundtrack comes from... Lee Morgan ! Kenny Clarke plays the drummer, while what we hear on the sound track is Art Blakey playing. Both Barney Wilen and Duke Jordan were in the film too, but it's Barney and Rouse we actually hear.
Shot from the recording studio with Barney Wilen and the Jazz Messengers.
The Jazz Messengers were widely recorded during their stay in Paris... Paris Jam Session is a live album by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers with guest appearances by Bud Powell and Barney Wilen, recorded at the Theâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris on December the 18th, 1959. It was originally released by Fontana in 1961, and subsequently by Verve as part of their Jazz in Paris series. It ends with one of the most stunning versions of the Dizzy Gillespie standard Night in Tunisia, the perfect vehicle for the explosive drummer to demonstrate his exceptional talents.
Another legendary gig was the 1957 Miles Davis concert at the Club St-Germain. Jean-Paul Rappeneau, a jazz fan and, at the time, assistant of the later to be famous nouvelle vague film director Louis Malle, suggested asking Miles Davis to create the soundtrack to « Ascenseur pour l'échafaud ». After the set, Rappeneau introduced him to Malle, and Davis agreed to record the music after attending a private screening. On December 4th, he brought his four sidemen to the recording studio without having had them prepare anything. Davis only gave the musicians a few rudimentary harmonic sequences he had assembled in his hotel room, and, once the plot was explained, the band improvised without any precomposed theme, while edited loops of the musically relevant film sequences were projected in the background. The score has been described by jazz critic Phil Johnson as "the loneliest trumpet sound you will ever hear, and the model for sad-core music ever since."
« Ascenseur pour l'échafaud » (excerpt):

« Ascenseur pour l'échafaud », a typical example of French film noir is the story of criminal lovers whose perfect crime begins to unravel when the main protagonist is trapped in an elevator. Whereas Vadim's « Les Liaisons Dangereuses » is concidered to have launched Jeanne Morreau's international fame,  « Ascenseur pour l'échafaud » is the very first film in which we see her as the class actress we know her for. As a film critic of that time puts it: "Moreau had 20 forgettable films behind her. ... Malle put Moreau under an honest light and wisely let his camera linger. The film was nothing special, but it did accomplish one thing: it proposed a new ideal of cinematic realism, a new way to look at a woman. All the drama in the story was in Moreau's face—the face that had been hidden behind cosmetics and flattering lights in all her earlier films. (...) For one thing, he had discovered her, and for another, they were in love." 
The feelings the director had for the lead actress was not the only love story to unfold in the margin of that particular film set. On the night Rappeneau introduced Miles to Louis Malle, he was also introduced to the young actress and later singer Juliette Greco. Miles Davis was just 22 when he met her. The day he would have turned 80, she celebrated their love affair and shared a few memories of their encounter: “Like every young person of my generation, I immersed myself in jazz. I met the greatest musicians - Charlie Parker, the Modern Jazz Quartet, most often at the Club St-Germain with Sacha Distel. (…) For it was there that I first met Miles, at his first concert in Paris. There weren't any seats left - and anyway I wouldn't have been able to pay for one - so I was taken to watch from the wings by Michelle Vian, Boris's wife, who was looking after me. And there I caught a glimpse of Miles, in profile: a real Giacometti, with a face of great beauty. I'm not even talking about the genius of the man: you didn't have to be a scholar or a specialist in jazz to be struck by him. There was such an unusual harmony between the man, the instrument and the sound - it was pretty shattering. (...) I didn't speak English, he didn't speak French. I haven't a clue how we managed. The miracle of love. (...) I'd heard of people like Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir when I was 14 or 15, through my sister who was a student, but I couldn't ever have imagined that one day I'd be close to them. Sartre said to Miles, "Why don't you and Juliette get married?" Miles said, "Because I love her too much to make her unhappy."
Boris Vian, Kenny Dorham, Juliette Greco, Miles Davis, Michelle Leglise, Charlie Parker

By the time Miles came back to Paris to record the music score for « Ascenseur pour l'échafaud », it was clear to both Juliette Greco and himself that they would not share a future together. In his autobiography, Miles puts it this way: “While I was in Paris to record the music for Malle's film, I was playing at the Club St-Germain with Kenny Clarke on drums, Pierre Michelot on bass, Barney Wilen on Saxophone and René Utreger on piano. I saw a lot of Juliette and I think it was on that trip that we decided we were always going to be just lovers and great friends. Her career was in France and she loved being there, while my shit was happening in the States. (…) If I lived in Paris, I just couln't go and hear great people like Monk and Trane and Duke and Satchmo every night. (…) Plus, the musicians that moved over there seemed to me to loose something, an edge, an energy...”   
Yet Monk also went to Paris. And just as Miles, it's precisely at a gig in the French capital that he was destined to meet the very person that would play a utmost decisive part in his life. Baroness Pannonica de Koenigwarter, known familiarly as “Nica,” acted as a patron, escort, gatekeeper and eventually guardian for the pianist during the last decade or so of his life. Named by her father after a rare species of moth, Nica was a direct descendant of the wealthy and famous Rothschild family. Known to the public (and whispered within the family) is that Nica lived with jazz musicians and dozens of cats, that twenty songs were written for her and that Charlie Parker died in her apartment. For those wondering why the discography of postwar jazz is studded with a single exotic name, in a catalogue of compositions that includes not just Monk's own Pannonica but, from other pens, Nica's Dream, Nica's Tempo, Nica Steps Out, or Blues for Nica and a dozen others, we advise checking Nadine de Koenigswarter's excellent documentary: « The Jazz Baroness ». 
“The Jazz Baroness”
Thelonious Monk - “Round About Midnight”
Thelonious Monk - “Pannonica”