Track Selection 1: Bags Groove
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Track Selection 2: Afternoon in Paris
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Barney Wilen, tenor sax; John Lewis, piano; Sacha Distel, guitar; Percy Heath , bass; Kenny Clarke, drums; recorded in Paris, France, December 4 and 7, 1956
Yes that Sacha Distel – look of horror – the French heart-throb? Yes. A couple of years after this recording the fearsomely handsome and charming Distel was in a relationship with Brigitte Bardot – France’s answer to Marilyn Monroe. Seems France always has to have an answer to anything succesful that’s American. Twenty two year-old Sacha sings not a word here, but plays good jazz guitar in the manner of Charlie Christian and Jimmy Raney. On tenor is the wonderfully melodic young Barney Wilen, at the age of only nineteen, soon to join Art Blakey on his European tour, and the real reason I wanted this record, as a big Wilen fan. The rest of the group are the cream of Paris jazz musicians, and the American side are MJQ (sans vibraphone) who had been playing in Paris in the preceding month.
Listen up, time to practice your French. (Any Canadians here may want to help their American friends out. What? Canadians don’t have any friends?)
Du 26 novembre au 9 décembre 1956, le Modern Jazz Quartet joue tous les soirs au Club Saint-Germain. John Lewis connaît bien Paris. Lors d’un précédent séjour il s’est lié d’amitié avec Sacha Distel, un excellent guitariste inspiré comme tant d’autres par Jimmy Raney. L’oncle de Sacha, le chef d’orchestre Ray Ventura, possède les disques Versailles, d’où l’idée d’un album réunissant le MJQ et Sacha Distel. Un projet abandonné sous cette forme pour des raisons contractuelles.
Cet album fera découvrir ou redécouvrir le son du Paris jazzo-existentialiste des années 1950, au temps où Sacha Distel faisait figure de musicien avant-gardiste.
There, that wasn’t so hard – rediscover the sound of existential jazz of Paris in the 1950’s, with Sasha Distel featured as an avant guarde musician. Zoot alors!
A couple of years later, having dumped Brigitte Bardot, Sacha was topping the French charts with “Scoubidou” and he went on to a long career recording with songs like “Love is like a violin” (I think I see a connection, but not for polite company, vibrato) and the French cover version of Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops keep falling on my head” That’s the direction rain usually falls. People get rich writing this stuff.
Vinyl: Atlantic 1267 black label, mono released 1957
Original recording for Versailles Records, Paris 1956 (impossibly rare). A little crackly from time to time, as 1957 was not a good time to be a record.The original is considered ” a mythic LP and one of the best recorded in France”. The Atlantic release a year later is graced with colours of the French flag, in case you were having difficulty placing the Eiffel Tower in the background. “Is that Paris Texas, honey, or Paris Frants?” “It’s rainin’, I think its Frants”
The simple world of serial numbers in the pressing plant.
Source: Ebay Location: France
Sellers Description: Original mono pressing ,deep groove, Jacket VG+, Record VG+ ,great copy
Here a copy of the original Versailles pressing under the hammer earlier this year:
I think we can pass on the idea of the original French pressing, at $630. The Atlantic was small change in comparison. Jazz is of course an international language, translation not required.