Sam Records Announces a New Thelonious Monk Album For Record Store Day (Revised)

Back in 1960 Thelonious Monk created the musical score for Roger Vadim's controversial film Les liaisons dangereuses. It has never before been released as an album, until now.

The tracks were recorded July 27th, 1959 at famed Nola Penthouse Sound Studios on West 57th Street in New York. Monk, then at peak power, is bracketed by two saxophonists: Charlie Rouse (yay!) and Barney Wilen. Sam Jones is on bass and Art Taylor on drums.

The movie wasn't as well-received as Vadim's "And God Created Woman" and it and Monk's music track all but disappeared until now. Actually the session tapes were discovered a few years ago, among the possessions of French promoter Marcel Romano who passed away in 2007.

Romano had previously paired Miles Davis with Louis Malle for his film "Ascenseur pour l'echafaud". After Roger Vadim named him music director for his new film, Romano and the director approached Monk, who though he'd had a musically exciting year (his famous Town Hall concert, the Riverside album 5 by Monk by 5 and a notable appearance at The Newport Jazz Festival), had a rough year, that included losing his cabaret card, which prevented him from performing live in New York City.

Perhaps that explains why no new music was composed for the film, but there are new versions of familiar tunes like "Crepuscule with Nellie", "Rhythm-a-Ning" and other Monk classics. The reissue's producer Zev Feldman is quotes as saying “It’s at the top of the heap for me... It’s one of the most important projects I’ve worked on. Bar none.” Keep in mind that Feldman produced for Resonance Records the Bill Evans at The Village Gate set as well as the recent and amazing double LP set Larry Young in Paris (Resonance HLP-9022) soon to be reviewed on analogPlanet. So that's saying a great deal.

The double LP edition of Les liaisons dangereuses 1960 including a booklet with essays written by Brian Priestley, Alain Tercinet and Monk’s biographer, Robin D.G. Kelley will be released on Fred Thomas's Sam Records label as a two LP deluxe box set on April 22nd for Record Store Day and on double CD by L Xuan's Saga Jazz label. Both releases are co-productions of Sam Records and Saga.

Mr. Thomas emailed this additional information:

“In 2014, we contacted relatives and friends of Marcel Romano, as we were looking for previously unreleased recordings of Barney Wilen. We didn’t find the recordings we were looking for, but by serendipity we discovered a complete set of studio reel-to-reel tapes bearing the name of Thelonious Monk! We knew that Monk had recorded the soundtrack for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, but we never expected to find these tapes 55 years after the movie was released. It is such a blessing to be able to listen to this fantastic session, and make it available for all to hear, with the precious help of eminent jazz specialists such as Robin D.G. Kelley, Brian Priestley, Daniel Richard, Alain Tercinet and Zev Feldman. This project is also a great opportunity to pay a tribute to producer Marcel Romano who had done so much for jazz music in France during the 1950’s.”

"Feldman, who was approached by Messrs. Thomas and Le Xuan in 2014 to collaborate on the project and be the person to engage with the Monk family to get the necessary clearances for the issuance of this music says, 'It was a startling revelation to discover that this music existed, that it was not just another live recording but a very well recorded studio session of great historical significance. I was beyond honored and thrilled to participate in this collaboration with my colleagues Mr. Thomas and Mr. Le Xuan.'"

The co-producers of this project are Francois Le Xuan/Saga, Frederic Thomas/Sam Records and Zev Feldman. Le Xuan is a French record producer and sound engineer based in Paris who has done many archival projects for Universal Music, Sony, EMI and his own Saga Jazz label. Thomas, also based in Paris, heads up Sam Records, where he has released archival titles by Lester Young, Chet Baker, Donald Byrd and others. Feldman, who is based in Los Angeles, is known for his acclaimed and best-selling archival productions of work by Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Charles Lloyd and other major artists for Resonance Records and other labels. He was named “Rising Star Producer” in the 2016 DownBeat International Critics Poll.

audioholic63's picture

Intriguing as hell. Be even better if it is AAA.

audioholic63's picture

Just saw your review of "ascenseur pour l’échafaud" under AAA so perhaps asked and answered. :-)

SpinMark3313's picture

The more Thelonious the better. Can't wait!