Il Vedovo (The Widow)
CAM 498281-2 *
The comedic premise of "The Widow", a 1959 Italian film unseen by me (typical
Jeff Wheeler behaviour...), does not quite match the music I hear a third
time as I sit down to write this brief hortative. The tried-and-true plot
as outlined in the album notes: a man gets a taste of his wealthy wife's
inheritance when it appears that she has met an untimely demise; when the
wife returns, her pulse as strong as ever, he formulates a twisted plan to
keep his new-found riches.
The soundtrack is mostly jazz, and descriptive track titles like 'G.I. Boogie'
and 'Jumping' help set the mood. The album begins with 'Widowed', an apposite
funeral march that segues suddenly into a waggish direction. Unfortunately,
evidence of wit at the onset sets up expectations dashed by the agonising
second track, an underdeveloped Henry Mancini-like bossa nova that
reminds me of the Muzak heard in elevators during my early youth, but without
the novelty. This theme severely interrupts the swingin' flow of the soundtrack.
A few tracks later is the more noteworthy 'Chet is the Back' (a mistranslation?),
a fast piece of good-cheer, which is followed nicely by a piano nocturne
and a eupeptic 'Study in "G" Minor'. Second versions of the main themes finish
Apart from the opening gag, nothing about the score indicates that it is
for a comedy. Armando Trovaioli began his career writing music for theatre,
a biographical note that raises questions about the lack of a ballet or burlesque
approach to "The Widow". He avoids making the music hysterical and, perhaps
as a far better thing than 'Mickey-Mousing', he channels the wit into technique.
Obviously, not every witticism can be a winner, regardless of how it is applied.
The score offers some fun nonetheless.
Production on the disc is less than fabulous. Sleeve notes are skimpy, and
the blend of grayscale and color in the cover design is queasy. The sound
is consistent with the late '50s.
I cannot say I will play this recording often. Most jazz leaves me cold,
and it never lingers in my memory. However, I recommend this disc to those
that better appreciate the style, and because I rather enjoyed the album
Ian Lace adds:-
Il Vedovo (The Widow) is an Italian comedy dating from 1959. The music
which is very much in the familiar mould of so many CAM recordings we receive
to review slots into the Easy Listening category. It is also music very much
of the late 1950s. The opening 'Widowed' is a very Italian funeral march
seemingly played on the small town band before a breezy jazz tune indicates
that the deceased is not missed much because this film concerns a man whose
wealthy wife has died in a car crash - or has she. When she turns up very
much alive the fun begins; when the husband tries to bump her off for real
he gets caught up in his own machinations. The other numbers remind one of
the Bossa Novas of the period and the sort of music one heard backing such
1960s comedies as Barefoot in the Park (Neal Hefti). Additionally
there is a mix of traditional, mainstream and modern jazz, and boogi plus
a more relaxed piano solo 'Nocturne' in a slow smoochy swing style.
Pleasant enough but we have heard it all before and often better.