Steve Potts

Musique pour le film d’un ami
SouffleContinue Records ffl062

More than a trifle, but less than a major statement, Musique pour le film d’un ami is an attractive curiosity and the one time American-in-Paris Steve Potts composed the soundtrack for a film. The year was 1975, director Joaquín Lledó was a friend, and the now largely forgotten film was Sujet ou Le secrétaire aux 1001 Tiroirs, about a Spanish director trying to make a film in France. Dealing with soundtrack demands with themes ranging from one to a little more than six minutes, the 11 selections are by necessity a pastiche.

Considering that most of the 11 musicians used by Potts were part of Paris’ advanced Jazz scene of the time, sounds are never less than professional and include sequences of savvy proficiency. Although some tracks that depend on Belle Époque accordion riffs, faux-funk bongo slaps or which advance via guitar parts that suggest George Benson or Wah Wah Watson, merely serve their thematic purposes, others have more to offer. This is especially true when Potts has space to express himself via compressed soprano saxophone trills or rollicking alto saxophone smears. The dual guitars of Christian Escoudé and Elie Ferré provide a half-flamenco, half-folk Blues lilt to “Antigone” with lush, straight-ahead chording, and are aided by organ riffs for a finger-snapping late-night club-vibration on “Route 69”

Potts flutter tongued honks, shrieks and smears playing a variant on “The Hucklebuck” fire up “Rock (La Défense)”, with R&B heat more prominent than Rock, especially when parallel guitar licks rappel distortedly up and down backed by Frank Abel’s period electric piano jiggles. “Street Blues” tries to demonstrate how wah-wah guitar, piano patterning and saxophone theme variations can approximate a down-home feeling with Gallic seasoning, but a vocalist’s cooing and mumbling almost undermine the effort.

In retrospect Potts’ score served its purpose, and can be appreciated that way, along with the some unexpectedly admirable playing that sneaks in as well.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Marie-France 2. Tango 3. Antigone 4. Bhagavad-Gitá 5. Route 69 6. Java 7. Mary-Jo 8. Poème 9. Street Blues 10. Rock (La Défense) 11. Java

Personnel: Ambroise Jackson (trumpet); Steve Potts (alto, soprano saxophones); Frank Abel (piano); Joss Basselli (accordion); Christian Escoudé, Elie Ferré (guitars); Gus Nemeth, Jean-Jacques Avenel (bass); Donny Donable, Kenny Tyler (drums); Keno Speller (bongos)