Les Double Six

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: RCA Victor
PERFORMER: Les Double Six
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 64314 2 Reissue

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Paris-based vocal sextet Les Double Six was formed by leader Mimi Perrin in 1959 and ran, with several changes in line-up, until 1966. The name Double Six derived from the group’s studio gimmick of overdubbing to produce the illusion of 12 voices.

Today, the concept of tight, tweeter-testing harmonies applied to sacred jazz standards such as ‘Moanin’’ is bizarre. But tastes were different then and Les DS Vocalese big band was taken seriously enough to record with arranger Quincy Jones, and later trumpet giant Dizzy Gillespie.

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Here, the group negotiates Jones’s charts for the Basie Band among others, with solo parts scrupulously based on the original horn versions and shared out between the singers. (There is a rhythm section – but it seems to be playing behind a closed connecting door.) With its witty wordplay and precise enunciation, the sound is quintessentially gallic: the classic swagger of Horace Silver’s ‘Doodlin’’ becomes a shrill ‘Tout en Dodelinant’; ‘A Night in Tunisia’ flies again as ‘Le tapis volant’. Sure, Les Double Six is not important in the jazz scheme of things – but this is clever and fun. Garry Booth