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COMMENT LES SÉDUIRE – François de Roubaix

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

This CD is a compilation of music from three films directed by Jean-Claude Roy and scored by François de Roubaix. Roy and de Roubaix became good friends during the French-Algerian War circa 1958 and worked together several times during their careers prior to the composer’s untimely death in a diving accident off the island of Tenerife in 1975, when the composer was just 36 years old. The films covered here are Les Strip-Teaseuses (or, to give it it’s full title, Strip-Teaseuses Ou Ces Femmes Que L’on Croit Faciles) from 1964, Les Combinards from 1966 and Comment les Séduire from 1968.

Comment les Séduire represents their third and most controversial collaboration. De Roubaix chose the pseudonym Cisco El Rubio for this effort since the film was considered an adult film and he did not wish to tarnish his fortunes. The highly erotic story told the tale of a seducer revealing his secrets. It suffices to say that the film was highly censored and never achieved either critical or commercial success. “Comment les Séduire” sets the score mood perfectly with a nice upbeat jazz piece carried by saxophone, bass, piano and percussion. With “Un Monsieur Comme Il Faut” we start fast with what appears to be a Folies Bergère number, that abruptly shifts gears after a few bars into a light-hearted tune carried by xylophone, stick percussion and bass. At 0:54 wordless female voice joins the mix with percussion to provide a comic sense of self-importance. Piano and percussion bring this quirky cue to a nice conclusion. After these two cues I find my self smiling and pleasantly amused.

“Cover Girl” is a classic slow jazz piece carried interestingly enough with a solo flute that plays over percussion and the usual steady plucked bass cadence. Once again De Roubaix employs the xylophone, which takes up the melodic line for a nice sequence before yielding once more to the solo flute that is joined by piano accompaniment. At 3:14 we abruptly shift gears and move into a second melody carried by piano, percussion and steady bass. “Un Certain Timide” has an almost Delerue dance-like feeling to it. It opens once more with a playful and energetic solo flute carrying the melody, which abruptly stops at 0:19 and resumes with a new flute melody with stick percussion, piano and bass support. As the cue progresses we hear a shifting back and forth of the main melodic line between the flute and xylophone which is quite ingenious. But we are not yet finished as de Roubaix begins at 0:40 a sustained accelerando of the theme to conclude the cue.

“L’Amour de l’Inconnu” is an atmospheric cue, which begins in subtle jazz fashion with brushed cymbal percussion and plucked bass. Piano and saxophone take up a simple and repeating line and continue to play atop the bass and brushed cymbal percussion for the duration of the cue. With “L’Ennemi Numéro Un” we are constantly thrown off balance. The cue opens with a Barryesque piece with a distinctly James Bond feel to it. Upbeat, jazzy with many shifts of tempo this piece entertains. At 1:07 the music abruptly ends and begins anew with a drum row and funky saxophone before shifting gears once again into a piccolo lead march. You just do not know what to expect with de Roubaix!

“Juke-box de la Drague” returns us to upbeat jazz with an energetic piano line playing over strummed bass and brushed cymbals. But you guessed it, at 0:46 a drum rolls propels us into another unexpected melody this one carried at a slower and funkier tempo by xylophone. At 1:30 we upshift to a new melody carried by flute and stick percussion and strummed bass. The cue shifts a last time at 2:35 with a tune that almost seems like a slowed tango! “Sur Les Genoux” is a slow jazz dance that is carried by alto saxophone with wordless female voice accents. While “Nous les play-boys” is a classic nightclub inspired song, sung with male voice, that once again captures the ambience. We conclude with “Maquettes”, which opens with brief dialogue before an energetic and syncopated solo piano takes on a more traditional melody, which is completely lacking of any jazz influence. At 1:22 as I have come to expect from De Roubaix, we segue into a new solo piano line that continues upbeat to conclude the cue.

Les Strip-Teaseuses was Roy’s first feature length film, and he chose De Roubaix to write the score. The film is a non-judgmental examination of the lives of three young strippers. For the film, De Roubaix composed a theme for each of the girls; a sad piano waltz for Valarie, a melancholic guitar theme for Patricia, and last a flute theme for Peggy that found its inspiration from a the song “Le Lendemain”. I will explore the jazz pieces that relate to the club’s ambience first and finish with an exploration of the three themes for the girls. “Générique Début” opens with a solo accordion that is soon joined by plucked bass and brushed cymbal percussion for a laid-back jazz piece that sets the mood. “Bain Twistant” continues the jazz flavor of the score but with an up-tempo 1960’s vibe. In “La proposition” a solo muted saxophone emotes a classic jazz piece as it plays over plucked bass and brushed cymbal percussion. At 0:50 the saxophone gives full stage to solo plucked bass that emotes over brushed cymbals and occasional piano chords. With “Dragueurs de Cafeteria” we are treated to some excellent flute play with plucked bass accompaniment. This is really a nicely written piece in the finest traditions of jazz. Lastly, we have the hybrid piece “Offengag”, which is comedic with a Folies Bergère air to it. A brief jazz interlude of muted trumpet and piano interrupts the cue’s flow, which soon resumes to conclude as it began.

The following cues are grouped, as they are thematic in that they all present a classic nightclub ambiance. “Audition” is a lively and playful piece carried by a solo piano playing over brushed cymbals. Simple in its construct, it never the less entertains. “Le Zodiaque” continues the ambiance but instead features an alto saxophone playing its melodic line over syncopated piano and metal struck cymbals. “Le Roi du Yéyé” is an upbeat song sung by male voice with female accompaniment, which plays guitar and plucked bass. All of us have heard this type of song in one guise or another and I believe it hits all the right notes setting the mood.

The following three cues are themes De Roubaix created for each of the girls. For “Valérie” we hear a piece written for solo piano. The primary melody is that of a waltz which is tinged with sadness, no doubt because of her circumstances. However, the cue opens with a joie de vie that just sparkles. Later it returns as an interlude before again surrendering to the waltz. I really enjoyed this piece with its interplay of styles. For “Patricia” the primary melody is initially carried by guitar, which plays over plucked bass. At 0:54 an alto saxophone takes up the melody with brushed cymbal percussion also joining. The mood is distinctly jazz and laid-back. I suspect that given the cue’s dichotomy that Patricia is a complicated personality. Lastly we have “Peggy” where the melody draws inspiration from the song “Le Lendemain”. Her theme is carried by solo flute, which plays atop plucked bass. This piece really imparts a strong jazz flavor that is tinged with sadness.

Les Combinards, which concerns marriage swindles, was initially envisioned as three short films that were eventually edited into what was hoped to be a single cogent film. De Roubaix was again solicited to provide the score, which features a lively waltz. “Générique Début” introduces the primary Waltz Theme that permeates the entire score. My first impression finds the waltz distinctly modern in sound and up-tempo. At 0:38 mark we shift gears into a carnival-like rendering of the theme carried by electric piano and stick percussion that is both unexpected and quite amusing. At 1:13 we segue back to the primary string carried version of the theme with syncopated trumpet accompaniment.

The Waltz Theme has many permutations and no matter how often it is heard, it always seems fresh to me. In “Garçon de Café” it is playful with a carnivalesque quality. With “Le Courrier du Cœur” it assumes a more traditional Viennese quality but then transitions to the comic realm. In “La Corrida des Combinards” the waltz is presented in the guise of a Castilian March of the Toreadors! Ole! In “Hommes Sandwiches et Grands Magasins” we open with a muted and distorted trumpet prelude that serves to only to fool us by then segueing into a slow tempo modern variant of the waltz. Lastly, in “Final” we conclude the score with the carnivalesque rendering of the waltz, which segues as expected into the waltz version first heard in “Générique Début”.

“Miracle à l’Italienne” opens with a piano prelude that flows into a twinkling melody meant to impart an Italian ambiance. Yet at 0:58 we shift into the main waltz theme, which is carried by a most animated piano. We are then thrown off stride as De Roubaix reprises the Main Theme, this time as a march, with a distinctly carnivalesque quality! So unexpected, and what fun! In “Cœurs Solitaires” as the title states we hear the sadness of lonely hearts. The simple waltz-like melody is beautifully carried by a solo flute, which plays over plucked bass and metallic cymbal percussion. “Rendez-vous au Ritz” is written as a classic tango and is just wonderful.

These cues are thematic in the sense that they are strange and peculiar. “Les Bagnards” can only be described as bizarre. A muted and exaggerated trombone plays as though under water over drum percussion to take us to the realm of the peculiar. “Brigade du Twist” is distinctly modern with a jazz ambiance that elicits visions of go-go girls dancing in the 1960s! Emoted by electronic piano with funky percussion this piece is a nice ride. “Arnaque au Marriage” opens with a formal organ prelude from which arises what can only be described a funeral home melody! But at 1:00 we switch gears, pick up-tempo and finish the cue with the organ melody now playing as a dance! “Session Jam” offers an extended statement of the Main Theme carried by guitar, which is quite enjoyable. The cue seems to conclude at 1:32 and yet after a 15 second pause resumes with a song sung by male voice with piano accompaniment.

Monsieurs Cyril Durand-Roger and Laurent Lafarge continue to unearth rare French scores from the past. All three of these scores are released for the first time and I must commend them on once again providing collectors with rarities from the past. On balance the remastering of the original source tapes was successful with only a few instances of imperfection that are not significant enough for further commentary. Until this CD I was unfamiliar with the canon of François de Roubaix. My first impression of him is that he was creative, had a sense of humor, liked to improvise and enjoyed jazz. All three of these scores were written for small ensembles and effectively managed to create the right textures and ambiance. Comment les Séduire is an eclectic jazz score that reveals the composer’s talent for innovation and improvisation. The melodies are fresh, enjoyable and succeed in creating a nice ambiance. Les Strip-Teaseuses reveals some fine writing for solo instrument including piano, flute, guitar and saxophone. I really enjoyed this score, which featured a nice jazz vibe and good nightclub ambiance. The three themes for the girls are score highlights. Les Combinards, despite the pervasive main Waltz Theme, was very enjoyable in that De Roubaix time and time again innovated and altered the theme’s expression. I must say I am very pleased with this release. If you enjoy eclectic small ensemble scores that feature jazz, nightclub music and avant garde writing, I invite you to purchase this wonderful compilation.

Rating: ***½

Buy the Comment les Séduire soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • COMMENT LES SÉDUIRE
  • Comment les Séduire (1:09)
  • Un Monsieur Comme Il Faut (1:57)
  • Cover Girl (4:31)
  • Un Certain Timide (2:57)
  • L’Amour de l’Inconnu (3:51)
  • L’Ennemi Numéro Un (3:45)
  • Juke-Box de la Drague (3:20)
  • Sur les Genoux (2:11)
  • Nous les Play-Boys (1:21)
  • Maquettes (2:14)
  • LES STRIP-TEASEUSE
  • Générique Début (2:03)
  • Bain Twistant (1:47)
  • Valérie (1:51)
  • La Proposition (2:42)
  • Patricia (2:15)
  • Audition (1:45)
  • Le Zodiaque (2:13)
  • Dragueurs de Caféteria (2:35)
  • Offengag (1:10)
  • Le Roi du Yéyé (2:33)
  • Peggy (1:19)
  • LES COMBINARDS
  • Générique Début (1:51)
  • Miracle à l’Italienne (2:49)
  • Cœurs Solitaires (2:57)
  • Garçon de Café (1:19)
  • Le Courrier du Cœur (2:28)
  • Les Bagnards (1:27)
  • La Corrida des Combinards (1:19)
  • Hommes Sandwiches et Grands Magasins (1:15)
  • Brigade du Twist (3:11)
  • Rendez-Vous au Ritz (1:24)
  • Arnaque au Mariage (1:36)
  • Final (1:34)
  • Session Jam (1:34)

Running Time: 77 minutes 51 seconds

Music Box Records MBR-002 (2011)

Music composed and conducted by François de Roubaix. Album produced by Cyril Durand-Roger and Laurent Lafarge.

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