The Cat by Jimmy Smith has been in my record box since the 1990's, its a must have and remains in my top 5 Jazz albums of all time- not that I'm a jazz buff. Most British kids of a certain age will be more than aware of one of the tracks on the A side as it was a theme to politics programme the old folk would watch, namely The Money Programme. The title used for the BBC2 series was the main title from the film "The Carpetbaggers" but not to confuse things Anglozine is partially inspired this season by a different MGM film.
On the sleeve notes of the LP The Cat, Verve records VLP 9079 (v.8587) Al Collins from KSFO San Francisco writes:
"On his last European trip, Jimmy Smith met French actor Alain Delon. Jimmy has written and dedicated one of the tunes in this album to the movie star: Delon's Blues. Alain Delon featured in the film "Joy House", and two Lalo Schifrin tunes from the film are also featured on this LP, the hit recording of The Cat, and Theme From Joy House."
The Verve label E.P Jimmy Smith Delon's Blues taken from the LP personifies effortless mid-1960's style and sound and along with the associated film made its way onto this seasons mood board.
Those three names stuck with me for years when ever I heard or saw one of the three. Jimmy Smith, Lalo Schifrin and Alain Delon three very cool cats compressed into shellac for time and memorial.
There was a mini motto doing the rounds back in the 1990's describing the modernist scene as: John Lee Hooker and Jean Paul Sartre. Much like this LP: Jimmy Smith an African American jazz legend with superb style, Lalo Schifrin an Argentine-American guardian of Bossa Nova, scribe of some of the very best film soundtracks ever and a best mate of Dizzy Gillespe. Finally the Gallic charm of Alain Delon, all in all a worthy trio.
The 'Sartre & Hooker' description resonated truer for the second revival than the Pete Meaden aphorism 'clean living under difficult circumstances' which probably does match the hardship of 1960's mods. But the height of the 1990's scene hardship was finding a club that played something other than Techno House or trying to track down a French film DVD.
Imagine if you can pre internet shopping, I walked into one on the monolith record shops in London W1 and asked at 'the information desk' if they had a DVD of The Joy House. Some of these info desk clerks were a marvel, they'd always pull pensive face and retort "yes I've heard of that, just let me check the system". Every time not like a librarian needing every finite detail including the ISBN. The help desker turned the Match of The Day/Teletext style screen around to face me. The good news was The Joy House existed ! - alas only in the United States and so that was the end of that for a good few years.
Years later working in Paris I watched a film called Les Felins in my crumby hotel room near the Place de la Republique - I was transfixed and had no idea what was being said. Les Felins which for the more internationally astute of you have already translated this as; The Cat. Eurika I'd found the ruddy film.
Starring Alain Delon and Jane Fonda, the following day on my lunch-break I picked up a copy from the film shop along the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Days later I watched it again back in London with the volume full pelt and sure enough the tunes running through the film are from Jimmy Smiths The Cat LP.
Feeling smug and loaded with this hoity 1964 new wave jazz knowledge I was flummoxed when a friend said the film sounded exactly like a film called The Love Cage. "Sounds like a blue movie" I rebuffed and assured my pub friend Les Felins was a high brow jazz fuelled style fest of a film a.k.a The Joy House, and not some confessions of a window cleaner 60's type mad cap caper.
Sure enough Les Felins is also know as The Love Cage in the UK and after doing more research on the film The Joy House in the USA. I bought an original cinema lobby film poster from the States and the vendor ran off its many titles that would make even the hardiest of Interpol targets jealous.
But thats not all the 'a.k.a' title has a further twist. Anglozine being an avid fan of 1950's & 1960's French cinema have been known to pick up film magazines from this time. To be precise in the March 1964 issue of Films and Filming, their man in Cannes gives insight into a new Rene Clement film being shot with Delon and Fonda called 'Ni Saints Ni Saufs'. The very same film a.k.a Les Felins a.k.a The Joyhouse a.k.a The Love Cage a.k.a Ni Saints Ni Saufs. This latest title must have been used during the build up to the film and translates as Neither Holy Nor Safe, which is rubbish so well done MGM for changing it.
It was common in the film industry, the rule almost up until the early 2000's to have nation specific language titles. Be it for impact or to avoid misinterpretation/ national slang ridicule. Like say the Mitsubishi marketing team naming their SUV Pajero or even the name Peter in France.
I should say here at this point that the film is good but its not the best French flick I've ever seen. It did feel as though I was setting myself the monthly target of finding a new nom de plume for the film. If you are a cat fan as in cat opposite of dog, there is a cat that strolls through some scenes. There are some amazing location shots of 1963 Roquerbrune-Cap-Martin & Menton in the south of France and Jane Fonda's French is pretty good.
But The Cat by The incredible (his words not mine) Jimmy Smith, is incredible a masterclass in jazz Hammond organ playing and worthy of your time.
This season we tried our hand at fabric design and have run two Les Felins inspired prints on the SETE shirt and BOSSA shorts and BOB hat. There is also a Delon blue patch on the ripstop TOTE and cotton TOTE
Sete: print shirt
Bossa: waffle shorts with patch
Bob: Bucket hat
Tote: Ripstop bag with patch
Tote: Halley Stevensons cotton with patch