Track Selection: Gemeaux, and Taurea (Gemini and Taurus)
Barney Wilen (ts) Carl Heinz Berger (vib,p) Jean-Francois Jenny Clarke (b) Jaques Thallot (d) recorded at Studios Vogue, 54 Rue d’Hauteville, Paris, 1966
Barney Wilen, not long graduated from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis European tours, an excursion into free jazz, dedicated in best Sixties hippy-style to the mystical signs of the zodiac. A little self-consciously avant garde for 1966, Wilen was a brilliant tenor player who flirted with many music fashions in his thirty-odd year career. The music here is of the plink-plonk-crash avant garde school, and the excellent recording and pressing captures the timbre and resonance of the instruments, with tonal colouring and dissonance that quickly has me reaching for my beret and dark glasses. Nous parlons jazz ici , “Yeah”.
France had a still-flourishing jazz scene in the Sixties. Paris was bursting with expatriate American musicians at a time when burgeoning sales of rock and pop to the teenage market stole all record companies attention. Modern Jazz became increasingly sidelined, and the Free school probably helped finish it off as a mainstream market, as those jazz musicians still living, and in search of a living, hitched on to the Jazz Funk and Soul bandwagon, the advancing electronic Jazz Fusion express, or returned to careers as lawyers or to mind the family business.
Vinyl: Disques Vogue CLVX 91-30
French original pressing on Disques Vogue, a Decca-related company. French Vogue are typically heavy vinyl, with sparkling dynamic range perfect for acoustic jazz instruments. Something of a rarity apparently. Boasts Vogue Records Mono <-> Stereo Scope process, whatever that is.
Cover Fashion Footnote: effortless Sixties style, first time around. Young Barney’s sporting a white rollneck, under a v-neck jumper, under a collar-less jacket, topped off with heavy frame glasses. Fashion time you could set your watch by. I recall proudly wearing white rollneck at the time, from that cutting edge mens fashion store of its day: C&A.
Phew! Cash in the Attic!
Courtesy of my personal time machine, purchased by a younger LJC in his first year at college in 1967, from a retail record store for around £2, a princely sum actually equal to half a weeks rent. One of the few records that I can trace a direct lineage. Everyone in my college group was listening to the Sounds of the Zodiac (heavy on the sitar) by candlelight, smoking home-made cigarettes. I threw this record in the pot. For some reason it didn’t get traded or sold, or thrown away like the others, and remained untouched and unplayed in a box in the attic for forty years.
It is not music from my youth – I recall not liking it very much at the time. Sometimes it takes a l o n g time to get it. Decades. Four of them.