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king ubu

Barney Wilen

222 posts in this topic

Yes, let's start the Barney Wilen Corner!

There has been some discussion of his music here recently, I know some others here are very fond of his music, so let me give a big :tup for a true master!

The following was posted in the Sun Ra sidemen thread:

posted by Lon (jazzbo):

I think you're going to enjoy hearing his playing evolve over the years, taking the lessons he learned from Newk and Pres and that spark he always had from the stat that was HIM, and becoming more and more a saxophone master (and I mean of all the horns save maybe bass and contrabass!) and an elder European jazz statesman, and a proliferator of French music as well. . . .  Keep me posted on your Wilen journey (and I can probably help out here and there too.)

wilen.jpg

posted by myself:

Yes Jim! Have fun with Wilen. I love that Jazz in Paris album a lot!

He plays bari on some later things I have, though if you're new to him, I'd recommend you hunt down the following two:

B000008A1E.08.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

available here

and:

B000025SXQ.03.LZZZZZZZ.gif

There's a two CD edition subtitled "The Complete RCA Victor Recordings". Recorded live on two days/nights in Paris (Club Saint-Germain) with Kenny Dorham, Duke Jordan, Paul Rovère and Daniel Humair. Wilen plays some soprano there. He also made a soundtrack-album with Blakey's Messengers (maybe you have this), where he turns in some good playing.

posted by Lon again:

Yes, this is amazing stuff, but I prefer his final decade or so of work, ultimately; it is varied and yet always wonderful.

BUT really flippin' hard to find, at least at a reasonable price!

I really love almost all of those with girlfriend Marie Moor on the cover!

1067.GIF

posted by brownie:

The thread seems to be turning into a Barney Wilen appreciation society which I'll gladly join. Been a fan of him ever since he came all over the Paris jazz scene in the mid-fifties. Jazzbo and Ubu have already mentioned many interesting dates, let me just add a couple of 'freer' Wilen dates that should be checked, if they can be unearthed: 'Zodiac' (1966) on Vogue, 'Dear Prof. Leary' (1968) on MPS and 'Le Grand Cirque' (1992) on Nato.

There is also a beautiful 1986 duo date with guitarist Philip Petit which came out in France last year. It was distributed by Harmonia Mundi. Also worth checking.

and Lon again:

I've never heard the Zodiac and Prof. Leary releases. . . mythical beasts, I've only ever seen them on ebay for far more than I would spend!

Le Grand Cirque is indeed a great one, though L'Auto Jazz, an earlier similar date with (even more) racing sounds mixed in seems more avant garde to me. . . .

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The New York Romance with Kenny Barron is a winner! Barney plays some bari on that one, too. And his soprano playing is beautiful.

See the cover a little bit bigger:

B0000035Z4.08.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

anyone seen it thus?

B000053SQJ.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Another very good disc:

B00004VNXK.08.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

A quartet featuring Gourley and Wilen. One of my favorite discs including Wilen.

and this one:

B00000K53Z.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

It includes some of the finest Barney I've heard!

Then this one has been mentioned by Jim (Sangrey) also in that other thread. Please post your impressions here, Jim, after you've listened to it!

B0000501C7.08.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

I love it, Milt Jackson plays piano, Kenny Clark is on drums.

ubu

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Wonderful idea!

Felt nostalgic about Barney Wilen yesterday after seeing the Wilen tangential on the Sun Ra sidemen thread and had the LP 'La Note Bleue' (the 'blue note' for people who have problems translating from the French) spinning late last night which is the right time to listen to it.

This was the first album he recorded when he returned to the jazz scene in 1987 after a 15-year absence. The album was issued in conjunction with a comic strip 'Barney et la Note Bleue' by French artist Jacques de Loustal which was inspired by Barney Wilen's life. More about the book is here

The site is in French but there are a lot of sketches from the book and some useful links.

The book and record were very well received and brought a belated recognition to Wilen.

Wilen was a beautiful cat. Was lucky to meet him when we were both teenagers roaming the streets of Saint-Germain des Pres and spent many evenings with him in clubs (was there when he played with Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Kenny Dorham and his own groups at the Club Saint-Germain) and at his hotel opposite the Club Cameleon on the Rue Saint-Andre des Arts.

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Wow, brownie! I really wish I had such memories!

Thanks for that link. I have once seen that Note bleu CD, but missed it...

Some recent available Barney is on the Bud Powell discs released by Fantasy from the Francis Paudras recordings. He appears on just one track of the first one (came out last year) and on several cuts on the second one (which has just been released, if I am right). I only have the first one, so far.

ubu

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By the way, how is the (recently reissued) George Gruntz disc "Mental cruelty"? I have seen this in some stores recently but the usual ridicule swiss price made me shy away...

ubu

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here's another good one that I have (was lucky to find it in a sales bin for some 6 or 7 $!)

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I've become a huge Wilen fan, mainly because of Kevin Bresnahan, who years ago sent me a disc he had grown tired of that reawakened my interest, and led to me seeking out all the recordings I could find. There really aren't bad ones. . . . I love the work he did in the eighties and nineties and want to find more. . . I need a few that haven't come out on cd yet, most notably the avantgarde titles.

I have New York Romance with that other cover Ubu (Le Ca--can't figure out how to add the cedille) and I love it; mine is a gold disc that sounds fantastic. All those discs pictured are great. Mental Cruelty is worth picking up as well.

barney.jpg

Anyone have any details about artist Marie Moor Barney's girlfriend . . . she seems to be a celebrity of a sort in her own right. I've never been able to find the album that she did that Barney may have produced and did participate in. . . .

Edited by jazzbo

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Ubu, don't think the new Bud Powell releases on Fantasy have material that has not been issued previously on other labels.

The George Gruntz 'Mental Cruelty' CD has not been seen here so far. Never heard that one.

One excellent session that is not listed in the discography that is attached to the La Note Bleue link is the Jay Cameron International Sax Band, one of Wilen's very first session where he played alongside Bobby Jaspar, Jean-Louis Chautemps and Cameron. The 1955 session was reissued in one of those Vogue/BMG CDs that showed up several years ago. I have the original Swing 10-incher which still plays very well. It was my introduction to the sound of Wilen (he was not 18 at the time) and I was very impressed. Wish I had heard Wilen and Jaspar playing together in a club. This must have happened at some time!

Wilen's first session was with Roy Haynes, another Swing 10-incher that had Wilen, Cameron, Henri Renaud, Jimmy Gournley, Joe Benjamin and Haynes. Worth checking also. It was reissued in the Vogue/BMG series (The Paris 1954 Sessions which gathers dates from Haynes, Rene Thomas and Frank Foster).

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Ubu, don't think the new Bud Powell releases on Fantasy have material that has not been issued previously on other labels.

The George Gruntz 'Mental Cruelty' CD has not been seen here so far. Never heard that one.

One excellent session that is not listed in the discography that is attached to the La Note Bleue link is the Jay Cameron International Sax Band, one of Wilen's very first session where he played alongside Bobby Jaspar, Jean-Louis Chautemps and Cameron. The 1955 session was reissued in one of those Vogue/BMG CDs that showed up several years ago. I have the original Swing 10-incher which still plays very well. It was my introduction to the sound of Wilen (he was not 18 at the time) and I was very impressed. Wish I had heard Wilen and Jaspar playing together in a club. This must have happened at some time!

Wilen's first session was with Roy Haynes, another Swing 10-incher that had Wilen, Cameron, Henri Renaud, Jimmy Gournley, Joe Benjamin and Haynes. Worth checking also. It was reissued in the Vogue/BMG series (The Paris 1954 Sessions which gathers dates from Haynes, Rene Thomas and Frank Foster).

brownie, I didn't mean to say the Powell discs have unreleased Barney. They are compilations drawn from that My(s?)thic Sound 10CD thing Paudras did (I have never seen a trace of that, though I certainly wish I had it!).

I have the Cameron session on that Vogue Masters reissue. It still seems to be available from amazon.fr.

Here's the cover:

B000023YQL.08.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

And that 54 sessions disc is a very very good one! Maybe my favorite of that Original Vogue Masters! I think that one has gone, cannot find it on amazon.fr.

ubu

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I like Wilen a lot, although perhaps not as unconditionally as many of you Barneyophiles! I discovered him when "La Note Bleue" came out and saw him a few times in the Paris clubs. Beautiful sound, very cool and swinging player, but at some point I noticed that, at least in concert, he never seemed to play up-tempo numbers. Ballads or comfortable mid-tempo tunes seemed to be it. As good as he was, I found this frustrating.

He did a duo CD with Alain Jean-Marie at one point that's very nice.

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Our friends at AllMusic don't think highly of it, awarding it only two stars, but I rather like the 1959 Newport sessions (with Toshiko). Not ground-breaking stuff, but solid, in-the-era jazz.

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One I haven't heard in 36 years is an album he dedicated to a racecar driver in which he plays over the drone rhythm of whooshing racecars, whole album, never on CD...

The racecar driver was Italy's ace Lorenzo Bandini who was killed when he lost control of his Ferrari car at the 1967 Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. The car crashed, Bandini remained trapped inside and was horribly burned. He died after a three-day agony.

Wilen recorded the album for MPS in 1968. It came out as 'Auto Jazz'. Another great Wilen session.

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Count me in as another Wilen enthusiast.

I want to mention another 2 great sessions by Wilen: "Movie Themes from France" (Timeless) w/Mal Waldron, and Sanctuary (IDA) w/ Philip Catherine.

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I have Gruntz' Mental Cruelty. Good stuff, albeit typical soundtrack material where you get a number of short, mood capturing pieces. I don't think there's anything on this that runs more than 3 minutes. Wilen acquits himself admirably. I would recommend it, especially if you're an afficianado.

The Auto Jazz (Bandini) recording is available on CD. I've seen it on Dusty Groove a number of times.

One other Wilen that hasn't been mentioned here, although it's come up on some other threads, is What's New Volume 2. It's an Italian recording on Schema / Rearward with drummer Gil Cupini in the leadership role. I know Lon is a big fan of this one, as am I. Again, something that pops up occasionally on Dusty Groove. Well worth the effort necessary to land a copy. Since this is Vol.2, I've often wondered if there's a Vol. 1. Haven't been able to run that question to ground.

If you've got money to burn, go with anything from Wilen on the Japanese Venus label. The recording quality of these discs is outstanding.

Up over and out.

Edited by Dave James

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Dave, thanks for the :tup for "Mental Cruelty" - seems I've got to get it!

ubu

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... he returned to the jazz scene in 1987 after a 15-year absence.

Please, elaborate!

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... he returned to the jazz scene in 1987 after a 15-year absence.

Please, elaborate!

Well Barney Wilen embarked in 1969 on an expedition to Africa. The original idea was to travel to deepest Africa and document pygmy music. A dozen filmmakers, musicians, artists joined in. I think actor Pierre Clementi (if you ever saw Luis Bunuel's 'Belle de Jour', you'll know who Clementi was. He was the young hoodlum Catherine Deneuve fell in love in that masterpiece) was a member of the company.

The trip lasted a couple of years. They traveled from Tangiers to the Sahara, Niger, Mali and ended up in Dakar, Senegal.

Wilen's album 'Moshi' which incorporated ethnic music was released around 1972 by Saravah after their return.

Wilen then went back to his hometown in Nice. He reappeared around 1977 at the Nice Jazz Festival where he jammed with various musicians including Curtis Fuller.

I think that shortly after that he was involved with a punk rock band 'Moko'. No recorded evidence seems to have come to light of this adventure.

Wilen returned to the jazz scene in 1986 after the comic strip 'Barney et la Note Bleue' which was very loosely based on his early years (the character Barney dies in 1962) was published and turned into a minor bestseller.

Wilen never elaborated much on that long period in his life in subsequent interviews.

An aside about Wilen's girlfriends. Wilen had many. One of them was Caroline de Bendern, the heiress to a very rich family and a very pretty blonde who climbed on the shoulders of a friend during the May 1968 Paris students riots. A photographer caught here waving a black anarchy flag. The photo was widely published and Caroline was disinherited.

Jazzbo asked about Marie Moor. She is a painter. Beside appearing on the 'Tu Ne Sais Pas Aimer' track of Wilen's Starbust Forever Modern Nostalgie)album that came out on Alfa Jazz, she made a record under her name (with Barney Wilen playing sax) for a AAAA record which I have never seen or heard.

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Many will have found this already, but the site on Barney et la note bleue that brownie linked to earlier has an extensive discography/biography. Direct Link

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Thanks for those stories, Brownie!

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His career was launched when he played (tenor sax) in Louis Malle´s...

f64625ymngk.jpg

(Lift to the Scaffold)

with Kenny Clarke, René Urtreger and Pierre Michelot (Miles in command)

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and dig once more? (all off topic, but such nice pics,... I'm sure no one gets mad about that!)

ubu

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More off-topic:

I prefer the second one. I find it more SUGGESTIVE??? B)

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More off-topic:

I prefer the second one. I find it more SUGGESTIVE??? B)

yes! I know an even better pic, but cannot find it online!

YOU are the picture-wizard, EKE, you try to find some more!

(Maybe we could stard a Miles-Jeanne-thread?)

ubu

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