Full marks to the young players of multi-award winning National Youth Jazz Orchestra for this marvellous collection of screen jazz score classics – music that's big, bold and brassy; music that's playful, sensual, exciting, disturbing and sinister.
The compilation opens with the 1966 feminist answer to James Bond, Modesty Blaise and John Dankworth's sound-like Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass score; slinky, exotic, exciting Latin. Then there is Lalo Schifrin's Bullitt (1968) still Latin but with a sinister, disquietening edge and Henry Mancini's even darker, sensual Latin utterances for Touch of Evil (1958). John Williams's bluesy Cinderella Liberty with its sexy saxophone and piano solos speaks of sleazy smoke-filled bars and seamy romances.
Upbeat, playful and romantic, that's the Orchestra's tribute to Dudley Moore with the sort of Latin rhythms that invite dancing that's up close and personal. Jerry Fielding's The Gauntlet with its expressive trumpet solo is another melancholy blues while the staccato chords and insistent ostinato of The Taking of Pelham 123 (David Shire, 1974) delivers just the right tension and punch to underline this tense thriller. Alan Silvestri's Who Framed Peter Rabbit is a lazy ballad jazz music just right for the film's sultry Veronica Lake look-alike, cartoon femme fatale.
Back to 1955 for one of the most famous trad. jazz film themes, Elmer Bernstein's swaggering The Man With the Golden Arm. Equally arresting is another Bernstein jazz score, probably the most memorable part of the film, played under those wonderfully evocative credit visuals of a cat on its night prowl, Walk on the Wild Side (1962).
More Lalo Schifrin delivers the darker, tense and menacing jazz of his Dirty Harry scores. Finally, quirky humour as we come almost up-to-date (1997) with a 'Soul Bossa Nova' written by Quincy Jones and George S. Clinton for Austin Powers.
For lovers of the big jazz band sound this is a brilliant compilation – jazz from screen classics played with style and real enthusiasm by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra – more please.
Gary Dalkin adds:-
There's little more to say. This is a barnstorming treat of a disc, and for those who complain that the arrangements aren't always faithful to the original film versions; look outside the film music ghetto and see how jazz works. Cool, dynamic and exciting, hopefully this is just volume one of "Jazz in Film". One minor criticism, and it is of the booklet rather than the disc. The informative sleeve notes are by my very own deputy editor, Glen Aitken, but since he wrote them someone has removed almost all the punctuation. Its not an improvement.