January 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Dave GRUSIN Random Hearts   OST  featuring Terence Blanchard (trumpet); John Patitucci (bass); Harvey Mason (drums) and Dave Grusin (piano).   SONY SK51336 [50:27]

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Random Hearts tells the story of two people: tough-minded (of course) internal affairs cop, Dutch Van Den Broek (Harrison Ford), and Kay Chandler, a high profile Congresswoman (the delectable Kristin Scott Thomas) who never would have met in a perfect world (so says the publicity blurb). Dutch is involved in a high-stakes corruption case and Kay is embroiled in a bitter re-election campaign. Quoting the blurb again, "they develop an extraordinary relationship that forces them to confront the truth that threatens to destroy them and discover the strength to triumph over the deception that surrounds them."

Director Sidney Pollack, wanted a rather different score for this unusual love story and went back to Dave Grusin for the answer. [Random Hearts marks their ninth collaboration.] Grusin has more than 40 film scores and TV themes to his credit. He won an Oscar for Robert Redford’s The Milago Beanfield War (1989) and Academy Award nominations for his work on: On Golden Pond, Tootsie, Heaven Can Wait; The Graduate; The Fabulous Baker Boys; St Elsewhere and Baretta. Amongst his other film scores I particularly enjoyed his music for Falling in Love (a much under-rated film, I have always felt).

Not surprisingly, Grusin’s score for Random Hearts is very much jazz-based with a quartet made up of the personnel named in the header to this review stiffened with strings and other instrumentalists as each track requires. There are two source songs: Diana Krall sings Jerome Kern’s evergreen ‘The Folks Who Live on the Hill’, endearingly supported, quietly and sympathetically by the quartet; and Patty Larkin gives an equally appealing rendition of her own song, ‘Good Thing.’

The material of the other tracks is nicely varied adding up to a very satisfying programme, ideal as background for dinner, dancing or late night listening. A mood of uneasy and diffident romance is set with the opening slow moving ‘Looking for Peyton’ cue played by the quartet. Then in the following ‘Dutch’, a flurry of altogether darker more disturbing strings material floats across the basic jazz-rhythm ostinato figures with slight volumes of growling synth. The tense, dissonant and cold thriller-style material is heard again in the opening minute or so of ‘Keys,’ and in ‘Closing In.’

It is, however, the more romantic material that predominates in this score most notably in the bitter-sweet ‘Random Hearts (Love Theme)’, the extra colour, drama and poignancy of ‘Intimate Distance’ and in the lovely quiet introspective melody for strings, piano and harp strings that is ‘Passengers.’ ‘Seasonal changes’ from the quartet (joined by the strings) is a haunting little vignette. As if all this was not enough we are treated to two exotic and colourful, infectious Latin numbers: ‘Playa Del Sul’ and ‘Aquí en Miami’ for which suitable instrumentation is imported to create the requisite vibrant atmosphere.

Unhesitatingly recommended and for me this is one of the few memorable new scores of 1999.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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