Jazz Soundtracks

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The jazz soundtrack genre at JMA is for artists who compose soundtracks with a strong jazz element. These artists may also work in other genres, but its their jazz soundtrack work that is of most interest to the jazz fan. Some good examples of jazz soundtrack composers are Quincey Jones, Henry Mancini and Isaac Hayes.

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Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm

CURTIS MAYFIELD Superfly Album Cover Superfly
4.99 | 5 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Spillane Album Cover Spillane
4.91 | 3 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Filmworks III: 1990-1995 Album Cover Filmworks III: 1990-1995
4.83 | 4 ratings
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LALO SCHIFRIN Towering Toccata Album Cover Towering Toccata
4.93 | 2 ratings
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ISAAC HAYES Shaft Album Cover Shaft
4.63 | 6 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Death Wish (OST) Album Cover Death Wish (OST)
4.56 | 7 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Film Works XIII : 2002 Volume Three - Invitation To A Suicide Album Cover Film Works XIII : 2002 Volume Three - Invitation To A Suicide
4.75 | 2 ratings
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BERNARDO SASSETTI Alice Album Cover Alice
5.00 | 1 ratings
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THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO Bande Sonore Originale Du Film Bande Sonore Originale Du Film "Les Stances À Sophie"
4.20 | 5 ratings
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OSIBISA Super Fly T.N.T (OST) Album Cover Super Fly T.N.T (OST)
4.50 | 1 ratings
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WILLIE COLÓN El Baquiné de Angelitos Negros Album Cover El Baquiné de Angelitos Negros
4.50 | 1 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Film Works XIV : Hiding And Seeking Album Cover Film Works XIV : Hiding And Seeking
4.50 | 1 ratings
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jazz soundtracks Music Reviews

HUGO MONTENEGRO Original Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Album · 1965 · Jazz Soundtracks
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The mid 50s to mid 60s were a golden age for creative orchestrators. The arrival of high fidelity stereo sound brought a whole new interest in what kind of sophisticated tone colors could be obtained with an orchestra that was often spiced up with a few new exotic electric instruments and modern stereo effects. Hugo Montenegro was one of many arrangers who was part of this creative scene. Hugo was not as hip and smooth as Henry Mancini or Quincey Jones, and sometimes his music descended towards the heavy-handed pomp of Arthur Fieldler, but sometimes he also came up with some fairly good recordings too. The soundtrack to the weekly TV show, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, is probably one of his best, although it is also inconsistent.

60s spy soundtracks tend to be treasure troves for those who seek exotic instrumental music and “U.N.C.L.E.” has its share of gems, but it also has some tracks that are extremely corny and show Montenegro at his worst. One of the best tracks is the main title theme which features a hard driving odd-metered horn riff very similar to Schifrin's classic "Mission Impossible". On side two, "Illya" matches the classic spaghetti western guitar sound favored by international spies and surfers to a laid back Latin lounge groove and features an odd high pitched keyboard, possibly an early synthesizer. Top tune honors though go to “The Invaders”, a classic menacing noire crime jazz theme played in an exotic 5/4 beat. The lesser cuts on here range from decent, but unremarkable easy-listening, to some really unbearably silly kitsch numbers.

To the collector of spy/crime soundtracks and exotic instrumentals there is enough good stuff on here to make this worth picking up, but there is also enough corny material on here to keep this record from being in the top ranks of this genre.


Album · 1994 · Jazz Soundtracks
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- When Rustic Hinges need Lubrication (Iron Man reads Keith Emerson Comics) -

Although I could be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time) I think this CD is only available from the official Keith Emerson website as I have to date, never seen a copy in any retail stores.

If the sleeve notes are to be believed, this project was forged at a meeting in 1994 between Marvel Comics illustrator supremo Stan Lee and probably the worst knife and flame throwing musician in history, Keith Emerson. At its conclusion both parties agreed that the music traditionally used for children's comic book animations was banal in the extreme and what better opportunity was there to give the kids a subliminal musical appreciation primer than get Mr E to levitate the soundtrack to film score extravaganza proportions ? What finer candidate could there be than the man who lit the bomb in 'bombastic?'

A marriage made in heaven it would seem, but as King Henry VIII whispered quietly to one of Anne Boleyn's linen handmaidens:

- No, don't bother with two pillows, we won't need that many tomorrow trust me -

'Iron Man Main Title Theme' - Keith gets us off to a lively start with a swaggering and nagging march tune stated on heroic signature synth brass underpinned by a punning groove exploiting some resonating metallic percussion. I can even see the screen credits scrolling in front of my minds eye. The old biker's sabbatical in the film industry during the 80's is reaping rich dividends here.

'And the Sea Shall Give Up It's Dead' - Starts with a very eerie high pitched dissonant cluster chord (Yep this must be the leitmotif of the 'baddie' - Wagner goes digital). However the momentum of this intriguing opening is soon lost as the piece lapses into a rather half-hearted but knowingly twee 'cheese lounge' tangent before Emerson, for reasons best known to himself, quotes 'Street War' fleetingly from 'In the Hot Seat'. Things do perk up thereafter with some sporadic and delightful orchestral writing and several disguised and modulated allusions to the opening track's sublime theme. There is also a hint of both 'Glorietta' and 'Romeo & Juliet' in places here and the whole construction although certainly ever changing and atmospheric does betray a rather haphazard arrangement. Keith also completely overdoes the punning metallic clanging percussion arsenal to wearying effect. This type of short episodic writing is certainly appropriate for animation work but I fear it would take until 'Godzilla Wars' in 2004 before Emerson would perfect this particular discipline fully. (Which reminds me, I need to add that album to his discography)

'I Am Ultimo, Thy Deliverer' - Some brooding and restive string synth writing opens this track and at least half this section has a more satisfying development and structure than the one before. The percussion is much more restrained and carries more weight as a result. The rapidity and insistence of the staccato passages are cleverly balanced against the legato pad and string sounds with the overall effect being that of a fully realised dynamic orchestral score. At 6 min 50ish however, we deviate into a straight rock groove but like all the many ideas that proliferate on this record, nothing sticks around for long or even prefaces its arrival. Circa 9 mins in we meet some martial snare and a jazzy interlude but again this is never sustained into a lasting theme. At 11 minutes we bump into a flustered Bela Bartok, bamboozled by his pungent Hungarian modes being employed for a fantasy cartoon. Yep, things really do DRAG from here on in and I cannot help but get the impression that this has degenerated into technician Will Alexander with stopwatch in hand, dialling up a new preset and challenging the maestro to:

- Play something that fits that sound then smarty leather pants! -

Just prior to the quarter hour elapsing we get a very clumsy lurch into Chick Corea jazz rock territory, and as brilliant as the solo and groove are, they just do not stem naturally from what came before. The fact that the drum sounds employed are via sequenced samples or a hardware unit does not help the creation of a credible percussion performance throughout the album alas.

'Data In Chaos Out' - Quotes cheekily from Holst at least twice on the intro I think? and seemingly emboldened by his subterfuge going undetected risks a snatch of both 'God Save the Queen' and 'Mars the Bringer of War' further in. You are a very naughty man Mr Emerson. Segues into an unusual, for Keith at any rate, pastoral and folky medieval plainsong a la Gryphon before appearing to quote his own left hand ostinato on 'Piano Concerto 3rd Movement'. (We'll let the last one pass certainly) Significantly there is a synth patch Keith uses liberally which mimics moving 'around the dial' on an old fashioned wireless and this may give some rationale as to the truncated brevity of the writing employed here to imitate the effect of stumbling upon short excerpts of random broadcasts? Keith however is plainly guilty on 'Data In Chaos Out' of that cardinal sin of many keyboard players who have distorted guitar sounds under their fingers via a sampler/synth i.e. if you don't think and play like a guitarist you're gonna sound like the Venus de Milo holding a Strat (pretty unconvincing)

'Silence My Companion, Death My Destination' - Play the first 20 seconds of this to your annoying and stubbornly white urban bro' next door and watch his acne encrusted features fall when you exclaim with indecent and crowing glee:

- 'Gotcha.... it's old prog fart numero uno!!' -

Piano appears for the first time here and despite the wonderful and tantalizing glimpses of Emerson's playing we again never get a chance for the underlying ideas to present themselves properly due to the disjointed nature of the arrangement which resembles a cut-up narrative that would have made even William Burroughs proud. Once again the main theme provides some sort of respite and it certainly has a strength and resilience that so much of this messy album does not. Emerson dallies with dance techniques at various junctures with mostly unconvincing results i.e. he layers house beats under urban sax motifs and bleepy analogue percussion and just manages to lose whatever skin tone he may have possessed before he started. Yep, unfortunately after about 15 minutes, as if on cue, Keith has run out of ideas and merely goes round his favourite synth presets again giving us a wretched home demo appropriation of 'Tank' for our pains of forbearance. Uncannily, 'Street Wars' makes yet another appearance and like a wasp in the middle of winter, proves to be a particularly unwelcome guest.

'Iron Man, Theme Alternate' - Very strong musical ideas relegated to just 1 minute in duration. So much of the quality on this recording is in inverse proportion to its running time.

So there you have it, a very disappointing pot pourri of soundtrack related sketches and preset digital synth cul de sacs I'm afraid. Perhaps if I had seen the visuals that are to accompany this music I may feel differently but if you are going to release a stand alone CD of music, it really should measure up of its own accord. Those proggers who are HEAVILY into synth sounds for their own sake might be in hog heaven with this album but as for the remainder, only the terminally obsessed (like moi) should indulge.

HENRY MANCINI Experiment In Terror

Album · 1962 · Jazz Soundtracks
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Henry Mancini was one of the most talented composers and orchestral arrangers during the 60s, and his soundtrack work often gave him much more of a chance to show off his creativity than his pop and easy listening albums. His soundtrack to “Experiment in Terror” is no exception as it is loaded with little gems that have that “Mancini touch”. The title cut set a standard for spooky theme songs with its lonely slow ride cymbal backed by a muted guitar riff and topped with a noire melody painstakingly plucked by hand on the piano strings. Halfway through the song a mass of dizzyingly high strings swoop in sounding like something from Hitchcock, this cut has been used as the theme for many of those ‘midnight movie’ type shows.

The twist dance craze had swept the world in the early 60s, so elsewhere on “Experiment” you get several swingin twists done up in more of an exotica style than real rock-n-roll, plus swanky lounge tunes, some interesting incidental music and unfortunately, a couple of unbearably corny tracks including one called “Good Old Days”. Of the incidental music, “Nancy” is an excellent track featuring soft atonal piano passages that sound like a lounge version of Boulez’ serial music. All of the twists and other tunes on here are extra groovy and all are special enough to have shown up on various ‘swingin bachelor pad’ type compilations over the years. If you like Mancicni or 60s exotica in general, you will want to get this. The one major drawback to this record is its brevity, the music is high quality, but you don’t get a lot of it.

NILS PETTER MOLVÆR Edy (Bande Originale Du Film)

Album · 2005 · Jazz Soundtracks
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"Edy" soundtrack is Nils Petter Molvaer's seventh album and in some sense it's a standalone work.Widely known by his aerial atmospheric soundscapes full of Nordic ethos and (especially on later albums)electronic rhythms, on "Edy" Molvaer sounds different.

From very first sounds nervous atmosphere and tension flows around you. I haven's seen the movie, but from soundtrack it doesn't look like "National Geographic" series (and to be honest some Molvaer's albums sound as good soundtrack to "Traveller Guide").Musicians team contains more or less regular Nils collaborators including interesting guitarist Eivind Aarset.But music all album long differs from his other works - there are not many traces of relaxed airy atmosphere,so characteristic for Nordic nu jazz. In fact - not at all.

All music here are full of blood and flesh and nerves. It's not a flamenco-based passionable soundtrack to Spanish movie for sure, but Molvaer's music never before sounded so full-bodied,even heavyweight in moments. All compositions are different and change one another by some internal logic,this album is one of rare (for soundtrack albums) cases when you don't need to see video-line to enjoy the music. Film director Guérin-Tillié said "The three main pillars of 'Edy' are the two main actors and NPM's music, which plays a central role in the motion picture."

I expect music on this album is seriously influenced by film requirements and it's different from what you hear on Molvaer's "regular" albums. Album closes with the only vocal song - Marion Cotillard sings "It Had To Be You", heavily orchestrated composition copying the style of Hollywood movies' songs from 50s-60s. It was just a movie ....

If you like nu jazz, Molvaer's music or want to hear great modern nu jazz movie soundtrack, try to find this album. Differently from other Molvaer's releases it was released in France and it looks it wasn't noticed outside of the country.

JOHN ZORN Nosferatu

Album · 2012 · Jazz Soundtracks
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Bram Stoker is 100 years dead as of April 2012. Imagine that. Nosferatu is actually the name of a movie released in 1922 based on Stoker's novel Dracula but the studio wasn't able to get the rights the novel. The music was created for a modern Polish stage production that is supposed to be "of" the novel. I wasn't able to verify what they are actually calling the play, but anyway...

I was a big horror movie fan and also a movie soundtrack fan when I was a kid before I got into prog and jazz and classical so I had to go for this album and it has some of all of that all rolled together. Before you even get to the music you have to take a look at and a feel of the package. The Tzadic label gets two thumbs up for all the CD album packaging and artwork I have encountered so far. The outer cover is a velvety textured black cardboard with dark red slick textured lettering and a little bat on the front. The back is also smooth and velvety with dripping blood from the top edge. The booklet is more of a matt finish but also uses slick clear lettering on the front and clear slick blood streaks running down from the top edges of the pages in various patterns. The booklet has a few pages of pictures from the production (play, dance?) and it looks like it would be really good to see. Maybe it will make it to DVD one day.

Two other albums come to mind and they are Philip Glass's Dracula soundtrack for the Bela Lugosi movie that did get the novel rights and Harold Budd's (not at all about Dracula or Nosferatu) She Is A Phantom. The latter album comes closer to it for having vibes and a more atmospheric quality to the music. Put the three together and you'll have a nice spooky trio.

The track names are fairly indicative of the music you get as the characters and story themes inspire the music. Desolate Landscape starts out the album with foreboding dark ambient music. Mina mellows it out a little while with piano and vibes. The Battle of Good and Evil noisy as you would expect from a battle between good and evil. John gets to in a little of his trademark sax strangling of course. Very industrial sounding a little Nine Inch Nailsish.

Sinistera and Van Helsing have that spooky vibes driven sound that makes me think of the Budd album. Fatal Sunrise brings back some mellower sax work and Bill Laswell steps forward with some atmospheric bass. Hypnosis comes in and spins around your head vibes and electric piano. The Lucy theme has some similarities to another piece from another album, but I can't quite put my finger on it right now. All of the non-undead persons titled pieces on this are really down to earth, mellow, and contemplative. Nosferatu on the other hand is screwy and creepy with rat noises and Zorn's breath.

The Stalking is one of those trademark Bill Laswell ambient dub style pieces. It's a long stalking too, as all stalking should be I guess. Old horror movie stalkings tend to be that way. It's the longest piece. The bass plods on along and creepy keyboards and squealing sax drift in and out and about. The Undead is a quiet piece with John on piano. Death Ship sounds like a creaky old vessel on a dead sea. Jonathan Harker has Rob Burger, the main keyboardist in the group, taking center stage in a duet with the group's percussionist, Kevin Norton, on vibes.

Vampires At Large, bass and electric keyboards lurking about. Renfield, piano and vibes again, hesitant, a little mysterious. Stalker Dub wraps it up, figures, did you remember to shoot it in the head with a silver bullet? No wait? that's all wrong. The stake, the stake, aieeee!!!

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