Friday, July 8, 2016
Brian's Got Some....De Sade jazz?
The Dissection And Reconstruction Of Music From The Past As Performed By The Inmates Of Lalo Schifrin's Demented Ensemble As A Tribute To The Memory Of The Marquis De Sade
Found this in a cobwebbed corner of the Internet long ago. Needless to say, the title jumped out at me. Quite a handle, huh?
So, what is it? Well, with a title like that, you'd expect it to be someone screaming into a piano soundboard while some other Mad Hatter banged a pan and recited snippets from "Philosophy In the Bedroom" or "The 120 Days"? Something like the audio equivalent of watching El Topo, maybe?
No, it's actually just a jazz album, and I admit one that's not near scary enough for a title like that! Mr. Schifrin was known at the time for his jazzy film scores like The Cincinnati Kid or the Mission: Impossible theme. He doesn't stray too far from those roots. What he does do though is take aspects of 18th century music and apply them to a swinging, mid-60's jazz context.
You hear the gentle opening guitar notes of "Renaissance" and you can imagine them being played on a harpsichord. When an actual harpsichord shows up on "Beneath The Weeping Willow Shade", it seems appropriate under those period-style vocals. And then when that track kicks into gear, it still works. And man, on "Versailles Promenade", the guy is working that harpsichord like Bud Powell!
It's brave that the title track, "Marquis De Sade", has the most pop melody of the whole set. Imagine seeing that song on a hit parade! "Blues For Johann Sebastian Bach" is a great piano-led swinger. "Bossa Antique" is a dark little number, reminding me more than a little of Angelo Badalamenti's work for David Lynch.
Putting this in a kind of historical context - this album came out in 1966. Ten or fifteen years before, De Sade had gotten his first major reprinting and critical reassessment in his native France. The play Marat/Sade had opened in Germany in 1963. In fact, this album's long title is a homage to the full title of that play -
So, in a way De Sade was kind of an icon of the underground/avant-garde back then. How he inspired this well-played but still mainstream jazz album is beyond me. The 60's were a strange time all over, I guess.
But this is a swinging little oddity! Put out by Verve Records, produced by Creed Taylor, recorded by the great Rudy Van Gelder. Was put out as one of those Limited Edition CDs, now runs for $100 or more. Files sound great @320 Kbps, and also includes full art.