Barney Wilen

Jazz in Paris: Jazz & Cinéma, Vol. 1

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This compilation in Verve's laudable Jazz in Paris reissue series features two separate soundtracks of original music. The first features a dozen works by French saxophonist Barney Wilen, written for Edouard Molinaro's Un Témoin dans la Ville, with a quintet consisting of Kenny Dorham, Duke Jordan, Kenny Clarke, and bassist Paul Rovere. While many of the pieces were only heard as musical fragments in the film, and several of them are little more than a brief chorus or two in recorded form, the music doesn't need visuals to be effective. Best is Wilen's sole appearance on soprano sax, the mellow duo ballad with Jordan of "Mélodie pour les Radio-Taxis." None of the tunes is particularly memorable, though the music is certainly enjoyable. Alain Goraguer's music for Michel Gast's movie J'Irai Cracher sur Vos Tombes sounds very much like something John Lewis might have composed for the Modern Jazz Quartet. The pianist is joined by bassist Pierre Michelot, drummer Christian Garros, vibraphonist Michel Hausser, and trumpeter Roger Guerin, with brief appearances by tenor saxophonist Georges Grenu, flutist Raymond Guiot, and harmonica player Claude Garden. All of these selections are less than two and a half minutes each, so the music never has much of a chance to make an impression. The personnel listings seem incomplete, as an unidentified baritone saxophonist and alto saxophonist are heard on the final track, "Surprise-Partie au Bord de L'eau."

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