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The French Connection / French Connection II (1971/1975)
Music by Don Ellis
The French Connection / French Connection II The French Connection / French Connection II The French Connection / French Connection II
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $89.95
Limited #: 4000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: May 2001
Catalog #: Vol. 4, No. 6
# of Discs: 1

In 1971 Twentieth Century-Fox released a film that was a smash hit both commercially and critically. It remains a benchmark by which other police thrillers are judged and one of the triumphs of 1970s "New Hollywood": The French Connection. The true-life story of two New York City narcotics detectives who busted one of the largest drug rings in history, it made the careers of director William Friedkin as well as actors Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider.

One other name had a film career launched by the movie and that was composer Don Ellis. Although little-known to soundtrack aficionados, Ellis was a cutting-edge jazz artist who pioneered the use of unconventional time signatures, harmonies, and instrumentations in a big band setting. He toured with his big band in the 1960s and '70s (they formed the core of the French Connection orchestra) and was accepted as hip by popular audiences at a time when the genre was out of vogue. He died tragically young of heart problems in 1978—he was only 44—and might have otherwise gone on to greater success in film scoring.

As it stands, The French Connection is Ellis' greatest movie score, a dissonant, jazzy, experimental work that nonetheless fits snugly alongside cutting-edge '70s crime scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones, Jerry Fielding and others. In the film, Ellis' work was used in bits and pieces, rearranged by director Friedkin to be even more austere and strange. This first-ever release of the score presents it as conceived and composed by Ellis, supplementing the familiar segments from the movie with 20 minutes of deleted material never before heard. The cut passages add a much stronger narrative throughline and feature truly experimental techniques as well as more accessible themes for the French mobsters and the hardworking cops.

As a special bonus, the CD also showcases Ellis's complete underscore for the 1975 sequel directed by John Frankenheimer, French Connection II, in which "Popeye" Doyle journeys to Marseilles to take down the drug ring. The sequel score is in the style of the original but with all new themes and added colors. It was used in the film in a slightly more traditional and therefore accessible fashion than the original, and compares solidly with Jerry Goldsmith's "travelogue" crime scores of the era.

The French Connection/French Connection II is 75 minutes of prime '70s cop scoring—firmly of the period but enhanced with the signature of a fresh voice. The sequel score is entirely in stereo; the original is mostly stereo with some mono cues. Sound quality is clear throughout and the booklet notes explain exactly where the deleted cues were meant to go.

Don Ellis Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Don Ellis (1934-1978) was a visionary West Coast jazz trumpetist, drummer, composer and arranger whose Don Ellis Band broke new ground in adventuresome time signatures and orchestration; it was said the only piece that the band played in 4/4 was "Take Five." Ellis broke his avant garde jazz sensibilities to The French Connection and French Connection II as well as other film and TV projects before his untimely death as a result of a heart ailment. IMDB

Comments (18):Log in or register to post your own comments
I scanned and posted these covers a while ago.

I hope you find them useful.

All sizes:
http://www.albumartexchange.com/covers.php?sort=4&q=french+connection+scott+h&fltr=1&bgc=&page=

The French Connection 1400 x 1400
http://www.albumartexchange.com/covers.php?id=194144&q=french+connection+scott+h

French Connection II 1400 x 1400
http://www.albumartexchange.com/covers.php?id=194147&q=french+connection+scott+h

I scanned and posted these covers a while ago.[/endquote]

I wish you had scanned the score either ! ;)
Joke aside I just would love a reissue of that one. Why is it taking so long ?

I'm a huge Don Ellis fan, but not a fan of the terrible archival sound of most 60's and early 70's Fox scores.

Joke aside I just would love a reissue of that one. Why is it taking so long ?[/endquote]

I just missed this score when it first went OOP (I didn't see the films until about five or six years ago), so I'd welcome a reissue as well.

expanded with unused music would also be great, if it's true Friedkin cut out some of the score.

I just missed this score when it first went OOP (I didn't see the films until about five or six years ago), so I'd welcome a reissue as well.[/endquote]

I have to apologize then because I was one of the last few people to get one before it went OOP. I had just seen the original for the second or third time but only then really connected with the score, so afer watching I went right to SAE to order. There was a low quantity alert and it went OOP a week or two later.

Marvelous, challenging score. The end title music in particular is wonderfully evocative and eerie.

Easily one of my top-10. Don Ellis is the most underrated, and under-discussed, composer in this Forum. He died way too young. His innovations wrt to jazz swing rhythms are unmatched over the last 30-40 years.

Master guitarist John McClaughlin subscribed to similar rhythmic methods, which were largely from the east (India), by way of Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussein.

expanded with unused music would also be great, if it's true Friedkin cut out some of the score.[/endquote]

Hi Last Child - Actually, the original FSM release presents the first score as it was initially conceived by Don Ellis - so it does actually contain all of the music that was either cut or altered by Friedkin - in its original form. That's one of the major pleasures of this album.

However, I agree that these two scores are just too marvelous to be out-of-print for too long - it'd be great to see it back out there for new audiences to discover. Ellis' big 5/8 chase music from "French Connection II" is a particular favorite!

Actually, the original FSM release presents the first score as it was initially conceived by Don Ellis - so it does actually contain all of the music that was either cut or altered by Friedkin - in its original form. That's one of the major pleasures of this album.[/endquote]

thanks, TheFamousEccles, that's good to know. I didnt notice there was extra music on the CD, but then I used to think the JAWS LP was the OST (so whatdoIknow).

I'm another one who regrets not buying these scores and would jump at a reissue!

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Track List
Instruments/Musicians
Click on each musician name for more credits
For more specific musician lists for the scores on this album, go here:
The French Connection
The French Connection II

Leader (Conductor):
Don Ellis

Violin:
George Berres, Joachim Chassman, Herman Clebanoff, Shirley A. Cornell, Earl Corry, Samuel Cytron, Kurt Dieterle, Adolph DiTullio, Bonnie J. Douglas (Shure), Alfredo Ebat, Debbie Sue Grossman, George Kast, Paul Lowenkron, Erno Neufeld, Irma W. Neumann, Louis Shelby, Paul C. Shure, Marshall Sosson, Marcia Van Dyke, Gerald Vinci

Viola:
Allan Harshman, Myra Kestenbaum, Dan Lionel Neufeld, Robert Ostrowsky, Sven Reher, David Schwartz, Ellen Smith

Cello:
Margaret Aue-Van Wyck, Joseph DiTullio, Anne Goodman (Karam), Glenn E. Grab, Igor Horoshevsky, Armand Kaproff, Raphael "Ray" Kramer, Kurt Reher, Frederick R. Seykora, Harry L. Shlutz, Eleanor Slatkin

Bass:
Charles C. Berghofer, Morty Corb, Irving Edelman, Arni Egilsson, Paul V. Keen, Milton Kestenbaum, Abraham Luboff, Peter A. Mercurio, Ray Neapolitan, William Plummer, Meyer (Mike) Rubin, Ray Siegel, Robert King Stone

Saxophone:
Sam Falzone, Ernest J. Watts

Woodwinds:
Jon C. Clarke, Abe Most, Fred L. Selden

French Horn:
James A. Decker, Vincent N. DeRosa, Sinclair Lott, Arthur Maebe, Jr., James M. McGee, Alan I. Robinson, Harry Schmidt

Trumpet:
Stuart L. Blumberg, Austin "Bud" Brisbois, Jack Caudill, Marion "Buddy" Childers, John Clyman, John R. "Jack" Coan, Jr., Don Ellis, Charles B. Findley, Carroll "Cappy" Lewis, Bruce McKay, John Rosenberg, Glenn Stuart, Raymond Triscari

Trombone:
Ernest S. Carlson, Paul V. Keen, Edward Kusby, Charles C. Loper, Lewis Melvin McCreary, Richard "Dick" Nash, James V. Sawyer, David Howard Wells

Bass Trombone:
George M. Roberts, Kenneth L. Sawhill, Phillip A. Teele, Donald G. Waldrop

Tuba:
Douglas Bixby, John T. "Tommy" Johnson, Paul V. Keen, James M. Self, Ray Siegel

Piano:
Milcho Leviev

Keyboards:
Artie Kane, Roger W. Kellaway, John Jack Latimer, Clark Spangler, Ian R. Underwood

Guitar:
Jay J. Graydon, Thomas A. Rotella, Thomas "Tommy" Tedesco, Barry K. Zweig

Fender (electric) Bass:
Dennis F. Parker, John B. Williams, Jr.

Oud:
John H. Bilezikjian, George Sabbagh

Accordion:
Frank T. Messina

Drums:
Ralph S. Humphrey, Franklyn W. Jones

Percussion:
Francisco Aguabella, Adel Ghattas, Frank "Hico" Guerrero, Wallace Carl Snow, Tommy Vig

Congas:
Lee Pastora, Chino Valdes

Zills (Finger Cymbals):
Helen Walton

Contractor:
Meyer (Mike) Rubin

© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.