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Les Stances à Sophie (Sophie’s ways)

Les Stances à Sophie

Les Stances à Sophie

© Les Films de la Licorne / TF1 Films Production (1970)

Past Dates

Just before the end of the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s two-year residence in Paris during the late 1960s, Lester Bowie (1941–1999) was asked by debutant director and later Academy Award winner Moshé Mizrahi (1931–2018) to record the music for his debut "Les Stances à Sophie". The group was about to leave, but instead rushed to a studio in Paris along with vocalist Fontella Bass, Lester Bowie’s wife, and on 22 July 1970, they recorded eight highly heterogeneous pieces in one single session – from Monteverdi to Free Jazz and African rhythms, to genuine soul music of the time. "Thème de Yoyo", performed by Fontella Bass (1940–2012), was to become a milestone. In 1966, her recording of “Rescue Me” was a million-selling hit for the Chicago-based label Chess Records, 10 years after Chuck Berry's great success with the song "Maybellene". The album of the soundtrack, unavailable for a long time until its reissue in 2000, became iconic. The film premiered on 3 February 1971, long after the group had returned to the US. At Jazzfest Berlin, the music can be experienced in its original cinematic context, an early feminist attempt by two women to liberate themselves from the constraints of a bourgeois society.

Art Ensemble Of Chicago: Les Stances à Sophie (full album) on  YouTube

Film by Moshé Mizrahi (1971)
Music by The Art Ensemble of Chicago
Original version in French with English subtitles

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