As 2017 marks Thelonious Monk's centennial, there's word that Sam Records/Saga has a newly discovered Monk studio album titled Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960. It's the never-before released soundtrack to the Roger Vadim film Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 and contains solo, trio and quartet performances of classic Monk tunes heard in the film.
Monk was at the height of his powers when he entered Nola Penthouse Studios in New York City on July 27, 1959 to record several of his best-known compositions for use as the predominant soundtrack of the film. Never before had Monk recorded music to be used in a film.
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."
The recording – featuring Monk's 1959 all-star working band of Charlie Rouse, Sam Jones and Art Taylor, plus special guest French saxophonist Barney Wilen – will be available:
– As a 2 LP limited edition deluxe box set on Record Store Day, April 22, 2017
– The CD and digital version will be available on May 19, 2017
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."
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. Deluxe 2LP 180-gram vinyl set transferred and mastered from the original session tapes by Francois Le Xuan at Studio 101, with lacquers cut by Benjamin Joubert at Biduloscope Mastering and pressed by Pallas in Germany.
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."