Monday, June 19, 2017

Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960

Sam Records/Saga celebrates Monk's centennial with the release of Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 – out today (June 16, 2017) in CD/digital format.

This historic music is now available for the first time outside the context of the film in this collection.  The recording contains all the music utilized in the film, as well as some tracks that were not heard on screen. The recording features Monk's 1959 all-star working band of Charlie Rouse, Sam Jones and Art Taylor, plus special guest French saxophonist Barney Wilen.

The project includes a 50-page booklet with original artwork by Jerome Witz, essays by acclaimed jazz writers Robin D.G. Kelley, Brian Priestley and Alain Tercinet, as well as a complete discography compiled by Daniel Richard, plus never-before-published color and black-and-white photographs and memorabilia from the recording session. 

The project was released on LP for Record Store Day in April and it's already earning high praise:

"...there's a tender intimacy to these solo and quartet recordings, which were made in the company of his wife and close friends." – Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times

"...a fresh discovery...Monk sounds lively and at ease: note the peekaboo feints he plays behind both saxophonists, and the sly rhythmic displacement he slips into his own solo." – Nate Chinen, WBGO

"...they reveal Monk during a dynamic year, in the midst of turmoil, seeming relaxed, playful and at the top of his game." – Larry Blumenfeld, Wall Street Journal

"This is no mere cash grab or vault-scraping; it's an absolutely essential find. Don't miss it." – Phil Freeman, StereoGum

"This new set is among my favorite historical releases of the year and offers material that is sure to delight Monk fans. It also shows off a more chilled side of Monk that will be less familiar to many listeners." – Marc Myers, JazzWax

"There has recently been a spate of archival releases, all important and opportune, but Thelonious Monk – Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 is easily the greatest to date." – C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

"...this compelling document of a crucial period in the pianist's notoriously under-recorded career can be considered an early birthday present to his fans." – David Kastin, JazzTimes

"Everyone plays as if his hair is on fire. Monk comps in jolts of electricity. His solos start in left field, and it's a rush when he clangs his way back to the melody." – Thomas Conrad, Stereophile

"Most intriguing is the inclusion of French saxophonist Barney Wilen, making this one of only two Monk records to feature dual tenors on the front line." – John Frederick Moore, Jazziz

Monk biographer Robin D.G. Kelley notes: "It is not too much to suggest that Monk transformed what would have been an edgy but relative standard narrative film into avant-garde cinema." 

As T.S. Monk says:   "This is a marvelous release. Thelonious is at his best, with a wonderful array of his best friends, including Charlie Rouse, Sam Jones, and Art Taylor! And there are new tunes too! If you love Monk, you'll surely love this original soundtrack to the award winning French cinema classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The entire Monk family is delighted to partner with Sam Records/Saga to make this release possible."

Producer Zev Feldman writes:

"In December of 2014 I was visiting Paris and received a very charming introductory email out of the blue from the head of Sam Records, Mr. Fred Thomas explaining that he and his friend, Mr. Francois Le Xuan of Saga Jazz (producer of the acclaimed 'Jazz In Paris' series) had located master tapes of a previously unissued studio session of Thelonious Monk made in 1959 by a French producer (the one and only Marcel Romano: Miles Davis' "Ascenseur pour l'échafaud.") I was obviously extremely intrigued, and I believe my eyeballs literally left my face upon reading the news. Are you kidding me?! A STUDIO album?!! This was an extraordinary find and I wanted to know more.

"We would met up several days later at le Café de l'Olympia over coffee where we got to know each other and discussed this extraordinary find. Fred and Francois were looking for a partner and needed someone who knew the Monk family and was a fellow kindred spirit who shared a passion to present this find in a presentation worthy of a giant. I was honored they were familiar with my work and thought I would be a good fit and collaborator. As we spoke at the cafe, it became clear, we were all three guys cut from the same cloth who loved jazz, an international language in itself.

"Over the next two years, we worked with the Thelonious Monk estate and set out to assemble the cast of voices/words (and photos) to bring together and tell the story of this amazing event in Thelonious Monk's recorded legacy. It just might be one of the greatest journeys and highlights of my life. I'd like to thank the Thelonious Monk Estate for making this project possible, especially T.S. Monk and Gale Monk. I'd also like to thank the rest of the Monk team including Thelonious Monk's grandchildren, Sierre Monk & Thelonious Monk IV, plus Team Monk's Denise Pruitt-Grant, & Julion St. Hill. Finally, I'd like to thank my co-producers Fred Thomas & Francois Le Xuan for inviting me on this journey which I will never forget. And thanks to all of you for supporting this music."