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New tango in Paris


Léonor Seraille’s Jeune Femme is a funny, affecting and occasionally jolting film about what happens to an attractive but rather unfocused young woman (brilliantly portrayed by Laetitia Dosch) when she becomes untethered from her former life. She’s a character who, in the writer-director’s words, “chooses discomfort”. It won the Caméra d’Or award at last year’s Cannes Festival and was released in the UK a couple of weeks ago.

The soundtrack, by Julie Roué, is mostly clubby. However, to my surprise and delight, brief extracts from Gil Evans’s Las Vegas Tango pop up quite unexpectedly, its wonderful bass riff — borrowed from Maurice Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habanera and played by Paul Chambers — and anguished upper-register horns adding a very different kind of exoticism to a couple of scenes.

Gil’s composition is a favourite of many. I’m also fond of versions by Robert Wyatt, who stretched and dismembered it on The End of an Ear, his first solo album, in 1970, and Michael Shrieve, the Santana drummer, who arranged a rather straighter treatment for a small band including the trumpeter Mark Isham and the guitarist David Torn on his album Stiletto in 1989. But the original is unsurpassable, as is the album from which it comes: The Individualism of Gil Evans (Verve), which belongs, whether in its 1964 vinyl incarnation or as the expanded CD, in every home.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. crocodilechuck #

    & ‘Time of the Barracudas’ [which I think Miles covered, with a different title. Was it on that v 1st box set, ‘Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-1968’?]

    May 29, 2018
    • Saverio Pechini #

      And the monumental rendition of Spoonful , like Time of the Barracudas excluded from the original lp !!! Embarrassment of riches..
      Shrieve’s cover is very fine but Wyatt’s is pure genius.

      May 29, 2018
  2. Kevin Mitchell #

    Thanks so much of reminding me of The Individualism Of Gil Evans. Am in Paris, and it feels just right on a rainy day.

    Trust all well.


    May 29, 2018
  3. Andrew Shepherd #

    Gave me exactly the same jolt when it appeared during my watching the film! Why stop at that Gil album only in every home-Svengali,Priestess,etc etc!

    May 29, 2018
  4. Richard Harris #

    ELVIN. Jones.

    May 29, 2018
  5. evadenyaw #

    Nels Cline also did a very emotionally-charged version of Las Vegas Tango on his album “Silencer” recorded in the early 1990s for the Enja label.DWSanta Fe, NM USA

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    May 29, 2018

    This lovely film was already proving a delight to see, but the sudden arrival of ‘Las Vegas Tango’ on the soundtrack – and it did seem to appear from nowhere – was a joy.

    Thanks for reminding me of Michael Shrieve’s splendid ‘Stiletto’ album, which will prompt me to take it from the shelf and play it for the first time in ages, along with a later and equally fine album by Shrieve featuring Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz, ‘Fascination’. And I am indebted to evadenyaw # for highlighting a Nels Cline album I was unaware of.

    May 29, 2018
  7. Myles Palmer #

    Thanks,Richard, for reminding me of The Individualism, which I will re-investigate this week.My Verve double album is dated…. 1974.

    May 29, 2018
  8. Tim Adkin #

    Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly with the comments concerning the original and the versions by Wyatt and Shrieve the version by Gary Burton, on the otherwise lacklustre “Good Vibes” (that record’s title alone may have been a clue), is also worthy of mention.

    I believe that the 1974 UK 2 LP issue of “The Individualism…” was a reissue with bonus material (including, inter alia, the stellar “Spoonful” referred to above) and that’s what formed the basis of the subsequent CD version.

    May 29, 2018
    • Saverio Pechini #

      You’re right about the 2 lp issue , now I remember . I have the Burton version too , but IMO it pales in comparision to the other ones.Once , shaking hands with Steve Lacy , I couldn’t help to think : ” this man played on Individualism!”.

      May 30, 2018

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