Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960

The years 1957-60 were a fertile time for jazz in French movies, as directors used the talents of the Modern Jazz Quartet (Roger Vadim, No Sun in Venice, 1957), Miles Davis (Louis Malle, Elevator to the Gallows, 1957) and the Thelonious Monk Quintet (Vadim’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 1959). Recorded in New York, Monk and his group work out on eight tunes, all of them Monk’s but one—a brief gospel hymn. Monk gets off to a rousing start on “Rhythm-a-Ning” and is soon joined by tenor saxists Charlie Rouse and Barney Wilen, who prove to be no slouches. Monk’s orchestrated ode to his wife, “Crepuscule with Nellie,” another opus from the pianist’s catalog, receives an appropriately somber treatment. A cheery “Well, You Needn’t” spotlights Rouse. “Pannonica,” Monk’s tribute to jazz patron Baroness Koenigswarter, gets both solo and quartet renditions. A second CD offers a few alternate takes. A special bonus—as if the music wasn’t enough—is a 60-page booklet. What a deal!