Jazz Related 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 | 24 hours caching

CURTIS MAYFIELD Superfly Album Cover Superfly
4.85 | 7 ratings
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THE SEATBELTS Cowboy Bebop Album Cover Cowboy Bebop
4.95 | 3 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Blue World Album Cover Blue World
4.60 | 5 ratings
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ISAAC HAYES Shaft Album Cover Shaft
4.46 | 8 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Death Wish (OST) Album Cover Death Wish (OST)
4.26 | 10 ratings
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THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO Bande Sonore Originale Du Film Bande Sonore Originale Du Film "Les Stances À Sophie"
4.33 | 6 ratings
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ARILD ANDERSEN Electra Album Cover Electra
4.50 | 3 ratings
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FRED FRITH Step Across The Border Album Cover Step Across The Border
4.33 | 3 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Spillane Album Cover Spillane
4.20 | 5 ratings
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MILES DAVIS A Tribute to Jack Johnson Album Cover A Tribute to Jack Johnson
4.00 | 52 ratings
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DAVE BRUBECK Jazz Impressions of New York Album Cover Jazz Impressions of New York
4.05 | 5 ratings
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PRINCE Prince And The Revolution ‎: Purple Rain Album Cover Prince And The Revolution ‎: Purple Rain
3.90 | 6 ratings
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jazz related soundtracks Music Reviews

DAVE GRUSIN The Fabulous Baker Boys: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Album · 1989 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
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Matti P
The American pianist, composer and band leader Dave Grusin (b. 1934, still alive!) was highly active in the field of film music. The movies I'm familiar with include e.g. Pollack's "Three Days of the Condor" (1975), Warren Beatty's "Heaven Can Wait" (1978), Oscar-magnet "On Golden Pond" (1981), the gender comedy "Tootsie" (1982), and - perhaps my favourite film of these - "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (1989), a musical drama with romantic undertones, starring real life brothers Beau and Jeff Bridges as a jazz piano duo of brothers, and Michelle Pfeiffer as a singer joining them.

The most memorable musical moments in the film are definitely those where Pfeiffer performs with the Baker brothers: 'Makin' Whoopee' and 'My Funny Valentine'. They are the highlights of the soundtrack as well. Pfeiffer's vocal abilities were surprisingly good. Grusin's original soundtrack music is fairly enjoyable too, although some of it hasn't aged so well. The core combo - featuring e.g. Grusin on keyboards, guitarist Lee Ritenour, a tenor saxophone and a trumpet - is often accompanied by strings. Occasionally the arrangements lean towards big band stuff.

'Main Title (Jack's Theme)' is a nice, groovy and elegantly arranged jazz piece. 'Welcome to the Road' is among the most eighties sounding tracks. The drumming is too loud in the mix and synths sound rather thin. 'Suzie and Jack' is a pleasant, slow-tempo romantic piece. Even more beautiful is the melancholic and moody ballad 'The Moment of Truth'.

The album also contains Grusin's arrangement of 'Lullaby of Birdland, and 'Moonglow' performed in 1936 by the Benny Goodman Quartet. The album is a bit uneven to listen to, and sometimes the original music is terribly 80's, but the highlights justify sympathetic three stars.

MILES DAVIS A Tribute to Jack Johnson

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
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In the late 60s, Bill Clayton was working on a documentary about the life and times of boxer Jack Johnson and decided he would contract Miles Davis and producer Teo Macero to provide the soundtrack. Rather than compose any specific music, Miles invited some of his favorite musicians over in the early months of 1970 for some loose jam sessions which Teo could then edit into a soundtrack and a soundtrack LP. The resulting jam sessions were a mixed bag, far from Miles’ best work, and often he and Teo left everything in there, warts and all. Warts including bassist Michael Henderson catching a key change a couple bars too late and Herbie Hancock trying to get a Farfisa organ to react so he lays his arms across the entire keyboard when it suddenly comes alive and plays Herbie’s massive tone cluster.

Side one opens with a rather mundane boogie from the rhythm section. Hard to believe that’s Billy Cobham on drums as this sort of thing is kind of beneath him. The saving grace on this side is the interplay between Miles and guitarist John McLaughlin. This is the pre-Mahavishnu McLaughlin, back when his playing was much looser, funkier and wonderfully gnarly. Coping John’s rhythm playing on this side should be a course requirement for an aspiring jazz and RnB guitarist, its just about the most inspiring and inventive rhythm playing one could hope for and Miles responds with a strong solo, but this does go on for a long time. Teo inserts a nice ambient break in the middle before the standard bar band boogie returns. Apparently Herbie happened to drop by for a visit so Miles directs him to a Farfisa organ in the room. A Farfisa is a hardly a pliable jazz instrument but Hancock gets some really cool kitsch garage band riffs out of the cumbersome beast adding to the sort of ‘off-the-wall’ nature of this album.

Side two opens with a much more sparse number, bordering on Miles’ experiments in ambience and static music, only this time the effect does not hold interest for long. John inserts some well timed funky riffs and just when the jam might take off, Teo fades the track into an excerpt from “In a Silent Way”. Oh boy, talk about cheating, trying to improve a mediocre album by inserting moments from a great album is just a really bad idea and it sticks out like a sore thumb, its like they are admitting this soundtrack needs all the help it can get.

As we move into the last part of the second side, Macero fades in a different jam, one with Dave Holland on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. With those two on board, things pick up considerably as we are now in classic syncopated jazz fusion over drive in a style similar to Miles’ excellent ‘Live at the Fillmore” album. This jam also features the very intense and avant-garde duo of Sonny Sharrock and Chick Corea using ring modulaters and echo feedback to build a Stockhausen like background for Miles’ solo. “Jack Johnson” is a not a great album, but fans of Miles’ fusion playing can find enough good on here to make it worth the purchase.

DUKE ELLINGTON Anatomy of a Murder

Album · 1959 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
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The musical genre known as ‘crime jazz’ was gathering steam in 1959 when Columbia Pictures reached out to Duke Ellington and asked him to compose the music for “Anatomy of a Murder’. Duke was a natural for this job as many of the composers who worked the crime jazz field were borrowing heavily from the sounds of Ellington’s musical world. Needless to say, Duke’s resulting soundtrack was a success and lead to more work for him in this field. Billy Strayhorn is the co-composer on here, and certainly Ellington’s best work goes down when Strayhorn is involved. The tracks on here are relatively short, there are very few solos, so it is really down to Duke and Billy’s composing and orchestrating skills to make this one fly, and this is also why this is one of Duke’s more unique records, its almost all composition and very little jamming.

Lots of variety on here, slamming rock-n-roll backbeats with blaring horns and bawdy burlesque vamps make up the more aggressive tracks. Elsewhere, soft sounds that hang in the air indicate suspense, mystery or trepidation. There are some cool sexy jazz passages that display the Ellington band’s superior skills with ensemble tone colors and solo soliloquies from some of Duke’s top soloists, especially the extra slinky alto saxophone of Johnny Hodges and the classical violin of Ray Nance. The ensemble on here is one of Ellington’s best bands with well known names such as Clark Terry, Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves, Russell Procope and many more veterans of the Ellington approach. One particularly novel tone color that adds an air of mystery on side two is the delicate sounds of the celesta played by Strayhorn and Ellington.

MELVIN VAN PEEBLES Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
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An intense movie deserves an intense soundtrack, and that’s what we get with “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Revenge”. A controversial movie when it was released in the early 70s, “Sweetback” is considered one of the first of the “blaxploitation” genre and the first film to feature a militant African American man in confrontation with the authorities and succeeding. Whereas some soundtracks can stand alone musically with plenty of songs that you can listen to apart from the movie, not this OST. Much of this album features sounds, jarring noises and dialog from the movie, not just music. This is a very intense album, almost avant-garde in places when snippets of dialog overlap with gun shots, police sirens, snarling dogs, yelling, screaming, pure chaotic noise, sexual climaxes and gospel choirs. No, this one is not for the timid, and if played loudly in a dark room, it can be downright intimidating. But, boring it is not. Any collector of the unusual and the bizarre in music ought to check this one out.

Side one opens with main character Sweetback answering a gospel choir acting as a sort of ‘Greek chorus’ letting him know what he is up against if he takes on ‘the man’. There is plenty of noise interspersed as this soundtrack builds a hallucinogenic inner city nightmare of confusion. “Running Song” is a fast paced jazzy rock groove with Sweetback saying over and over to his feet and legs to get moving as he runs from the law. This side ends with a relentless jazz funk workout. The band on here is no other than Earth Wind and Fire making one of their first appearances and playing a lot of old school funk and soul that sounds nothing like the slick sophisticated style they would develop later in their career.

Side two opens with a couple of RnB numbers that are probably the closest to regular music that you will hear on here, but when the off-kilter sounds of “Sanra Z” enter, it sounds like the band is falling down drunk and we are back into chaos land. What follows is some of the most intense moments yet as sections of dialog are layered on top of each other with plenty of yelling, cussing and racial epithets to spare. This album is not for everyone, but those who seek the unique and unusual will find a goldmine here.

PHILLIP JOHNSTON The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Album · 2018 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
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kev rowland
Johnston has long been pursuing his own brand of avant garde jazz, but this is the first time I have come across him outside of his band The Microscopic Septet (whose 2017 Cuneiform album ‘Been Up So Long’ is simply superb). A few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a special showing of ‘Suspiria’ where Goblin performed the soundtrack live in front of the audience, and this album is a similar construct, in that it contains the music Johnston composed as a soundtrack for ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’, a 1926 silent silhouette animation that is a landmark in cinema history – the world’s first feature-length animated film. To breathe Reiniger’s silhouettes to life, Johnston composed a continuous score of 65 minutes of music to be performed live with the film by a quartet of soprano sax, trombone, and two keyboards, against a pre-recorded track of samples, loops and live drums. For this recording, the music is performed by Johnston (soprano saxophone) with Australian musicians James Greening (trombone), Alister Spence (organ, keyboards), Casey Golden (organ, keyboards), and Nic Cecire (drums), and broken by the composer into twelve individual tracks.

This is a complex album, one that needs close attention paid to it as the musicians embrace themes which may or may not be repeated, going off in tangents to the original, with trombone often playing a heavy bass part to contrast against the sax. The keyboards and drums are often in the background, with the brass taking centre stage. It is an album the definitely requires repeated listening, as the first time I felt there were certain passages and sections which were passing me by, all of which made far more sense the more time I allowed myself with the album. Well worth investigating, I just hope that Johnston will feel fit at some point to pop over the ditch from Australia and have some performances of this with the film here in New Zealand, as it would be well worth attending.

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Artists with Jazz Related Soundtracks release(s)


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