Barney Wilen: Un Témoin Dans La Ville

The French saxophonist, with Kenny Dorham, Duke Jordan, Paul Rovère and Kenny Clarke, produced a 12-track underscore for Molinaro's 1959 film


This is an example of that rarity, the 10″ LP, that mostly disappeared in the mid-50s. Made in Paris by Fontana, this one featured the music that saxophonist Barney Wilen wrote for Édouard Molinaro’s 1959 film Un Témoin Dans La Ville.

Wilen appears to be the leader, although this is not stated anywhere. He certainly had a sterling cast of US jazz musicians and fellow French bassist Paul Rovère. The 12 tracks are all short, some under a minute in length, but the music is lively and atmospheric, as you might expect on a film soundtrack.

Wilen has a relaxed sound on tenor in the Lester Young/Stan Getz manner and he links up well with Kenny Dorham. Some tracks are slow blues pieces where Dorham’s burnished trumpet is heard to good effect and the rhythm section backs steadily. One or two pieces are no more than exercises for trumpet and drums or solo piano. Kenny Clarke performs very well here, leading the rhythm section and playing little rhythmic vignettes solo. Témoin Dans La Ville is a familiar American blues line played elsewhere by Dorham and the Jazz Messengers but here it sets up the programme of music.

If you can divorce your thoughts away from the film-music intent and just listen this is an attractive 23-minute album. Dorham and Jordan in their solo selections rarely sounded better. It is presented with the original cover on 180-gram vinyl remastered by Kevin Gray.

Témoin Dans La Ville; La Pendaison; Mélodie Pour Les Radio-Taxis; Poursuite Et Métro; Ambiance Pourpre; Préméditation Dans L’Appartement; La Vie N’Est Qu’Une Lutte; Complainte Du Chauffeur; Sur L’Antenne; Blues De L’Attente; S.O.S. Radio-Taxis; Final Au Jardin D’Acclimatation (23.38)
Wilen (ts, as); Kenny Dorham (t); Duke Jordan (p); Paul Rovère (b); Kenny Clarke (d). Paris, 1958.
Fontana 660.226 / Sam Records SRLP27