February 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Mango Kiss
Music composed by Matthew Ferraro
'My Heart Belongs to Daddy' written by Cole Porter
  Conducted by Tim Simonec
  Available on Blue Marble Records 12122
Running time: 29:06
Order direct from http://www.spun.com/music/product-detail.jsp?id=2487217

mango_kiss

  • Barbara Morrison, vocalist
  • Maia Heiss, background vocalist
  • Tom Rainer, piano
  • Chuck Berghofer, bass
  • Peter Erskine, drums
  • Alex Acuna, Latin percussion
  • Larry Bunker, vibes
  • Rick Rosenberg, guitar

According to the brief PR blurb "In this fish-out-of-water movie, Lou's world is turned upside-down when she falls for her best friend, Sassafras. Zaniness ensues when the naive pair stumble into the erotic anarchy that was San Francisco in the early 90s." Apparently this adaptation of a lesbian stage play "deals with issues of non-monogamy" focusing up fantasy role playing and is reputedly visually stunning

Mango Kiss was awarded the Gold Medal for Director's Choice of Music at the Park City Film Music Festival at Sundance. The score is composed by Matthew Ferraro, who has several previous soundtrack credits but whose most high profile work to date has been as an orchestrator on Futurama (1999-2003), the video game Medal of Honor: Underground (2000), and as a music programmer on the mini-series Dune (2000).

When this review was originally published the music from Mango Kiss was only available as a promo, but the same music as on that promo has now been given an official commercial release, The album may still be hard to find though, but is available direct through the link above. The disc features 29 minutes of what is a most enjoyable jazz based score.

The credentials are impeccable. In addition to a brass section comprising five saxes, four trumpets and four trombones, the score features a stellar ensemble of top jazz musicians, not the least of which is the powerhouse drums and percussion pairing of Peter Erskine and Alex Acuna. Meanwhile featured vocalist Barbara Morrison has performed with a virtual 'Who's Who' of the jazz and the blues worlds including Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Ron Carter, Etta James, Jimmy Smith, Dr. John, Terence Blanchard, Joe Sample, Cedar Walton, Nancy Wilson, Mel Torme, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, and Keb' Mo (Kevin Moore). She has appeared everywhere from Montreaux to Carnegie Hall, and was the lead vocalist on the soundtrack of The Hurricane (1999).

The album features two delightful (though very similar) Latin instrumental versions of Cole Porter's classic 'My Heart Belongs to Daddy', as arranged by Matthew Ferraro, and a vocal version performed with considerable flair by Barbara Morrison in a big band arrangement by Ferraro and Tim Simonec. Morrison also performs the song 'Possessions', a stirring jazz-blues band number which she delivers with both raw passion and tenderness.

In-between these pieces the album offers nine mostly short original score cues. These range from the quirky rhythmic electronics and processed whispered female vocals of 'Mickey Seduces Sass' through the hip-hop meets '70's funk of 'Chelsea's Theme' (which comes complete with analogue synth. Lead line) to the featherweight Latin tearoom dance of 'A-Cup-A-Cake-A'. They also include the vibes-led 'Candy Poem', an MOR number which wouldn't have been out of place on a Henry Mancini Pink Panther album, and the playfully 'Fantasy Theme', which includes a pixilated Irish folk dance, and the slinky little brass cue, 'Lou Lusts' with again a touch of the laid-back Mancini. 'Leslie and Val's Theme' sounds like a brief extract of classic British Light Music, while 'Kaz's Loft' opts for an infectious Latin dance groove with both real and sampled percussion. Finally 'Spin The Bottle' develops 'Chelsea's Theme' into a more steamy workout.

If jazz remains at the heart of the score the 29 minutes offer a greater diversity of moods and approaches than usually found on score albums twice the length. Depending on the listener's receptivity to different styles this may or may not be a good thing, but the fact is that at less than half an hour of finely polished and superbly performed and recorded music few are going to feel this disc outstays its welcome.

Gary Dalkin

**** 4

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