The early Sixties saw a marriage between the French cinema and jazz. Every movie had to have a jazz soundtrack in order to sound contemporary – out with the lush strings of Hollywood Forties and Fifties, in with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. One marriage however descended into a legal brawl, as sometimes happens in real life. Disputed territory between Duke Jordan as “composer” and the studio holding the film rights attributed to one J. Marray. Two groups of musicians, two separate recordings, both claiming to be music from Roger Vadim’s art-house flick Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Dangerous liaisons indeed.
First up, Blakey with the feisty young French tenor Barney Wilen on Fontana
Track Selection: No Problem
Vinyl: The Original Soundtrack recording, Fontana France 680 203 ML
Lee Morgan (tp) Barney Wilen (ts, ss ) Bobby Timmons (p) Jymie Merritt (b) Art Blakey (d) Tommy Lopez, Willie Rodriguez (cga ) Johnny Rodriguez (bgo) Duke Jordan (comp -1,2,4/9, p, comp -3) recorded Nola’s Penthouse Sound Studios, NYC, July 28 & 29, 1959
Fontana labels claim “music by J. Marray”, no mention of any composer name of Duke Jordan. Ironic title “no problem” because it has indeed caused major problems, as to who wrote it. Blakey gets to indulge himself with a drum solo and the young Barney Wilen is a welcome fresh voice on tenor.
The Vinyl: magnificent original French Fontana shouting 1960, impossibly rare in playable condition, with a sunken central pressing die profile.
This week’s French expression, your mot de semaine for Jazz Lovers is Enchanté, which combined with a kiss on the back of the hand is guaranteed to cause ladies to go weak at the knees at this display of old world charm, or fall about laughing. Just think sixties art-house, and be suave. Next week: French Kissing for beginners.
Health warning: rear cover contains pictures of musicians smoking.
Found in a street market stall in France, in remarkably good condition (for France!)
Second up, rival production from Duke Jordan himself, recorded two years later.
Track Selection: No Problem
Vinyl: Music from the original soundtrack, Duke Jordan PLP 813 Charlie Parker Records (UK release on Egmont Records)
Sonny Cohn (tp ) Charlie Rouse (ts) Duke Jordan (p) Eddie Khan (b) Art Taylor (d) recorded NYC, January 12, 1962
Definitely the same tune, no doubt about that. Very polished performance – perhaps too polished for a French art house flick, and Duke indulges himself with a long piano solo. Why not? – its his tune, apparently. Unlikely piano solo for a film score.
Unusual to bring the fight to the sleeve notes rather than the courts, though probably a lot cheaper. I must say, in his picture Duke looks a little uncomfortable Lots of Duke Jordan on the song credits, no mention of any J. Marray, the rival claimed composer. One of them is the composer, but which?
Its great music from another time and place, whoever wrote it.