Jazzwise magazine Jazz on Film writer Selwyn Harris presents French New Wave produced, compiled, annotated by Harris and digitally remastered by the same engineer that produced the previous two highly acclaimed themed 5-CD box sets: Jazz on Film...Film Noir and Beat, Square & Cool released in 2011 and 2012.
The debut release on Jazz on Film Records, French New Wave kicks off with the first ever film score written by a serious jazz composer: the pianist John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) on an original recording known under its American cinema release title No Sun in Venice (Sait-on Jamais, 1957). It’s a definitive recording in the MJQ’s rich discography as well as an early model of a 'Third Stream' work, a term coined by Gunther Schuller to describe a new musical hybrid that bridged the gap between jazz improv and classical forms.
It’s followed by one of the most powerful, as well as groundbreaking, scores of all time: Miles Davis' largely improvised score to director Louis Malle’s influential, cult thriller Lift to the Scaffold (Ascenseur Pour L’échafaud) (1958).
Hard bop legend Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers were the hot ticket in Paris in the late 1950s following the great reception received by African-American bebop musicians in France after World War 2. The score for Roger Vadim’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1960) is infused with the thunderous energy of the band at their best and has themes written by the former Charlie Parker sideman, notable pianist and composer Duke Jordan.
They also recorded an uncharacteristically austere score for Eduoard Molinaro’s ‘Policier’ thriller Des Femmes Disparaissent (aka The Road to Shame, 1960), written by one of the Messenger’s most memorable tunesmiths, the tenor saxophonist Benny Golson. The version of the Messengers here (that included the young trumpeter Lee Morgan) is the same classic lineup as on the hit recording Moanin’, widely considered (by Blakey himself, as well) as the best ever Jazz Messengers line up. One of the greatest French bop saxophonists Barney Wilen (who briefly filled the saxophone chair between Benny Golson and Hank Mobley in the Messengers) appears on both Liaisons and Lift to the Scaffold.
He’s also the leader-composer of an all-star band that includes drummer Kenny Clarke and trumpeter Kenny Dorham on another obscure Eduoard Molinaro noir-influenced thriller Un Témoin Dans La Ville (aka A Witness in the City, 1959).
Iconoclastic director Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (A Bout de Souffle, 1960), on the other hand, is perhaps the most well known and quintessential film of the Nouvelle Vague movement. The score by the masterful French jazz pianist Martial Solal, in close parallel to the film, is a restlessly subversive work, mixing up bebop, French folk traditions, classical music and big band noir parody.
The 5-CD compilation ends with a less well-known score by Michel Legrand, arguably the greatest French film composer of all time. Legrand’s suite of compositions for Joseph Losey’s arthouse classic Eva (1962) is arguably the best and most persuasive jazz-orientated film music in his spectacular career. It demonstrates this pianist-composer’s jazz roots and the score’s dazzling arrangements are a clash of exotic polyphonic ensemble textures and cool jazz swing inspired by the Gil Evans-Miles Davis symphonic jazz masterpiece Sketches of Spain.
PRESS/MEDIA SO FAR
It's a brilliant box-set...You can tell I'm a fan. Go out and get it!” —Jamie Cullum on his Radio 2 show Oct. 2013
BRILLIANT" ESSENTIAL" —MOJO MAGAZINE, DEC 2013, FIVE STARS
Invaluable. Expert Curatorship." —BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE'S JAZZ CHOICE, FIVE STARS
“The third in an epic series of jazz soundtrack boxes and possibly the best yet.” —The Observer Jazz CD of the week FIVE STARS
“UK jazz writer Selwyn Harris has already produced two well-received box sets in the jazz on film series. This third set maintains the high standards. Handsomely packaged with copious liner notes, it’s the perfect Christmas present for jazzers and film buffs alike.” —The Irish Times four stars ****
“In this beautifully assembled 5-CD set, Miles’ Lift to the Scaffold still drips cool and Martial Solal vividly conjures young Paris for Breathless” —The Times, John Bungey ***
“Despite the serial number [JOF001] this is the third box set of soundtrack music that Selwyn Harris has produced, compiled and annotated. All the music is beautifully restored and remastered, and the liner notes are outstanding. Christmas is coming and you know what to do – and it’s a bargain too.” —Peter Bacon, The jazz Breakfast
Jazz CD of the week —The Sunday Times, Clive Davis, 22 September
Jazz fans and film buffs are in for a real treat" —Jazzwise Magazine, Oct 2013
The CDs are accompanied by a 60-page booklet filled with Harris' brilliantly in-depth liner notes. With Christmas around the corner, this could be an ideal present for the jazz and filmbuffs who have —nearly everything." —Jazz UK Oct/Nov 2013
“...beautifully packaged and accompanied by a booklet prodigiously illustrated and benefiting from Harris’ excellent liner notes. One of the triumphs of this French New Wave set is that it foregrounds the role played by jazz in the nouvelle vague’s cinematic revolution, a role often neglected by film criticism. Suddenly, films didn’t just look different. They sounded different too. —Londonjazz blog, Dr Nicolas Pillai
A pivotal period in jazz within cinema history successfully evoked". —Marlbank blog, Stephen Graham
“Wow! Any one of these 5 CDs would be in the running for Jazz Reissue of the Year. To get them all in one box set means gameover - No Contest...That it comes with a superb booklet with photos and text describing both musicians and film is an added bonus. —Bebop Spoken Here website, Lance Liddle
“A very welcome, collectable box set” —Barry Forshaw, CD Choice
Collected together here for the first time in a specially themed 5-CD box set are seven of the essential jazz film scores recorded in the revolutionary New Wave era of French cinema between the late 1950s and early 1960s.
This deluxe box set package includes a sixty page booklet with extensive, in-depth sleeve notes by the producer/compiler of the set, Jazzwise magazine writer Selwyn Harris (an extension of his Jazz on Film column in Jazzwise) with editorial consultancy by the esteemed critic, author and broadcaster Brian Priestley. The high quality, professional remastering of the original recordings is by a specialist in the jazz field and arguably surpasses that of any previous CD releases of the scores.
Please note the following: There is no deluxe edition of this new wave box set.