Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunday's "Forgotten" Soundtracks: 3rd Streamers John Lewis (ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW) and Dave Brubeck (MR. BROADWAY) for crime drama, David Amram's Beat





Jazz scores, or at least jazz-flavored scores, for crime drama were almost inevitable by the latter '50s, and some items, most obviously Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme" but also (a little later) Duke Ellington's score for Anatomy of a Murder, were major hits. So, after John Lewis had taken charge of what had been the Milt Jackson Quartet, and remade into the Modern Jazz Quartet, losing Kenny Clarke as drummer but gaining the more sympatico Connie Kay by then, and while the MJQ was setting about to beat the world as the proudest carriers of the banner of Third Stream Music (the European classical tradition and jazz being streams one and two, which mingled in the third, suggested Gunther Schuller in a notable essay), Lewis continued to look for challenges...a large group including MJQ members under the direction of Lewis scored a UN-sponsored short film, Exposure; the MJQ scored a European film, No Sun in Venice, and Lewis was called upon to score a 1959 American dramatic film, based on a novel by Ziff-Davis veteran William P. McGivern and starring and produced by Harry Belafonte and directed by Robert Wise, Odds Against Tomorrow. A hell of a film, with the most over the top ending of any crime drama I've seen yet (even in the age of excess in such matters as we live in now), and featuring some compositions that would become chestnuts in the MJQ repetoire...in fact, the MJQ recorded their own interpretation album, issued at various times as Patterns and as Music from Odds Against Tomorrow and currently offered at an exorbitant price by Amazon for a CD-R they will burn for you, when not erasing books from your Kindle or refusing to sell you books by publishers whom they don't like. And, speaking of exorbitant, the prices being hung on copies of of the 1991 cd of the original soundtrack would pay for an excellent stereo component...sorry I missed that item, for at least two reasons. But, here is the contents of the cd:
1. Prelude To Odds Against Tomorrow (01:44)
2. A Cold Wind Is Blowing (01:20)
3. Five Figure People Crossing Paths (01:40)
4. How To Frame Pigeons (01:04)
5. Morning Trip To Melton (03:09)
6. Looking At The Caper (02:01)
7. Johnny Ingram´s Possessions (01:08)
8. The Carousel Incident (01:44)
9. Skating In Central Park (03:29)
10. No Happiness For Slater (03:56)
11. Main Theme Odds Against Tomorrow (03:24)
12. Games (02:17)
13. A Social Call (03:53)
14. The Impractical Man (03:00)
15. Advance On Melton (01:58)
16. Waiting Around The River (03:51)
17. Distractions (01:25)
18. The Caper Failure (01:23)
19. Postlude (00:45)
Total Duration: 00:43:11
Track listing contributed by Dick van Oosten
--and it's notable that the performances by Harry Belafonte are missing, as he interrupts Mae Barnes as she performs "All Men Are Evil" (and she walks off the bandstand accusing Belafonte's character of definitely being evil):


...though the cues that include the MJQ augmeted by the likes of guitarist Jim Hall and pianist Bill Evans are definitely collected here. Here's the scene with "A Social Call":


The Patterns album:
A1 Skating In Central Park 6:08
A2 No Happiness For Slater 5:20
A3 A Social Call 4:46
B1 Cue #9 5:05
B2 A Cold Wind Is Blowing 7:31
B3 Odds Against Tomorrow 3:32
--also features a track called "Cue #9," missing from the sountrack album, but audible in this scene (Odds the film is an early credit for Wayne Rogers and Zohra Lampert):


But perhaps the only recording I can find to snag from the MJQ album is this (and the sound quality isn't optimal, but it's worth hearing):


Well, if there was any band specializing in Third Steam music that was doing better financially than the MJQ, it was the Dave Brubeck Quartet, who in 1959 achieved the first "gold" album in jazz history, and whose pianist/leader was engaged to write the musical cues and themes for a 1964 return of Peter Gunn's Craig Stevens to network television, Mr. Broadway. The Brubeck Quartet also recorded an album of their interpretations of the cues, Jazz Impressions of New York (with one track from those sessions, "Toki's Theme," reslotted for the Jazz Impressions of Japan album instead). Here, among a charming array of mostly jazzy themes (including the McBain series 87th Precinct and the Roy Huggins/Anthony Boucher [Kraft] Suspense Theater), is "Mr. Broadway" with an organ dubbed in over Brubeck's piano part, but otherwise featuring the DBQ:

(and here's a quieter version, with a Lengthy coffin nails ad attached.) Here's the DBQ album version, a track that has had much more success than the one-season series. The New York album has one real dud of a recording, "Broadway Romance," but more of that quartet (Paul Desmond on alto sax, Gene Wright on bass, Joe Morello on drums) doing excellent work at the height of their popularity, such as this:


Coming, like Gunther Schuller, from the classical side of the Third Stream ferment, but with strong Beat movement connections (such as his friendship with Jack Kerouac that led to his participation in this film), David Amram would go on to have his greatest commercial success as a film-score composer with 1963's The Manchurian Candidate--but in 1959, was putting together the music for Pull My Daisy:


The second (and perhaps final) of a series of Interim "Forgotten" Soundtracks posts while Rick Robinson reorganizes his collection, causing temporary suspension of his regular Saturday Soundtracks feature.

15 comments:

david amram said...

Thank you for a really intresting and informative posting of information that is part of the hisory of the 50s that has not been documrnted n ths way before.

A few nights ago Gunther Schuller (whom you mentioned) was honored for his recent 85th birthday and i (David
amram} was honored for my upcoming 80th this november, with a wonderful concert in Boston organized by classical saxophone virtuoso Ken Rafnofsky and two of his colleageues from the Boston Symphony

Works by Gunther and myself were played, and afterwrds i jammed with a group of students from the New England conservatory at the reception

Jazz is FINALY getting its rightful place in our society, amd all the composers you mentioned in yur fne blog are individual voices but all have created work of endurung value

Thank you for including my score for "Pull My Daisy" which 51 years later, (thanks to the Intenet) is being seen all over the world!

Keep up your fine work!

Davf amram
amramdavid@aol.com
www.davidamram.com

K. A. Laity said...

Well, you certainly reached the right ears on this one, Todd. Amram is new to me, so I'll have to check these out (on a non-teaching day).

Todd Mason said...

Cosider me floored. But, as I've noted previously, having met Amram once (at the first Thelonious Monk Memorial Concert, where he engaged in a jovial "cutting contest" with Dizzy Gillespie--Gillespie on trumpet v. Amram on French horn, then Gillespie on muted trumpet v. Amram on pennywhistle), the man is an utter gentleman as well as a genius. The latter are often gentlebeings, I've found, despite folklore to the contrary.

Thank you both for commenting.

Todd Mason said...

And happy birthday, David Amram and Gunther Schuller!

Richard Robinson said...

I dug out my CD of ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW. Blue Note Records, CDP 7 93415 2 (released 1990).

The CD has 6 cuts, runs 32.5 minutes. It's a digital remix from the analog masters (it says). Musician listing is: John Lewis (p), Milt Jackson (vibes), Percy Heath (b), Connis Kay (d) The reissue production was done by Michael Cuscuna (later of Mosiac Records).

The six cuts are:
1. Skating in Centrral Park
2. No Happiness for Slater
3. A Social Call
4. Cue # 9
5. A Cold Wind is Blowing
6. Odds Against Tomorrow

Need less to say there is a lot of music missing from this one compared to the track listing you give, I'm only to think the 1991 was a different (possibly 2-CD?) release.

Listening to this, it's obviously a MJQ take on the music form the film, note the actual music, which had a larger ensemble playing.

Very interesting post! Thanks for the time and effort, I learned a lot.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Rick...you'll see in the course of my post that I give that track listing, too, for the album originally issued by United Artists Records as PATTERNS (I've had a copy of that, on vinyl, since the early '80s) so, I gather, as not to confuse anyone who thought they'd be getting the film soundtrack album, which is detailed earlier in the post (and neither features the Belafonte...wonder if those songs have ever been issued, not that the "All Men Are Evil" performance would work too well outside the context of soundtrack.

Yeah, you'll note that the cues/OST track timings are rather short, for the most part, in comparison with the (in total actually rather brief, as well) PATTERNS tracks...

Richard Robinson said...

I saw the Patterns listing, but thought it was for the vinyl, and so wanted to clarify it the same on the CD, but I didn't really say that, did I?

Regardless, it's a nice bit of music and I'm glad you nudged me to take it out and listen to it. BTW, the reason I couldn't find it the first time was it's filed with jazz, not soundtracks. This kind of thing is difficult, and though I cross reference in my catalog, on the shelves it has to be one place or the other. So it lives with the other MJQ CDs.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well, this all makes me most interested in seeking out David Amram. Brubeck is my favorite thus far-I like quiet music mostly.

Todd Mason said...

NO MORE WALLS, which includes the opening theme from PULL MY DAISY, is an excellent place to start. (Or listen to the soundtrack of PULL MY DAISY in its entirety on the link provided above, but I like other compositions on the album, including "Tompkins Square Park Consciousness Expander," even better.) And some Brubeck Quartet recordings, such as the Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra composed by Howard Brubeck and on BRUBECK PLAYS BERNSTEIN PLAYS BRUBECK (the sides with the NY Philharmonic conducted by Guess Who--the LP was reissued as SONGS FROM WEST SIDE STORY), is hardly All Quiet...though it's not yet been released on CD in its entirety that I've seen.

And have you given the MJQ much of a listen?

Richard Robinson said...

I sure hope you continue to do Saturday Soundtrack posts, even if not weekly (though that would be very welcome). The background you provide and the insight given make for entertaining and educational reading.

George said...

Your knowledge (and music collection!) humbles me, Todd! I, for one, urge you to continue your soundtrack reviews on whatever schedule you find comfortable. We all learn a lot from your detailed reviews!

Todd Mason said...

[squeezing swelling head through door jambs]...this overpraise is encouraging, though the way I've been going about these, rather labor-intensively linking while doing my usual top-of-the-head writing in the dead of night might have to undergo some revision. Thanks, gents...and, given that PATTERNS/MUSIC FROM ODDS is an "interpretation" by the MJQ, and so definitely isn't the "true" soundtrack...though the MJQ and Guests (Schuller, the Jimmy Giuffre Trio, et al.) THIRD STREAM MUSIC, which includes the actual EXPOSURE soundtrack music, might qualify for either shelf! As might NO MORE WALLS, or MJQ's UNDER THE JAZZMIN TREE (as I recall, at least one track on that Apple Records disc is another soundtrack recording).

Todd Mason said...

I'm definitely thinking about joining Scott's Forgotten Recordings meme/roundelay. Anyone else?

Richard Robinson said...

As a result of this post, I listened to the CD, and since it was left out for a few days, put it back in and played it several more times, enjoying it each one. As I listened I got more and more into the vibes, on some of the cuts Jackson seems almost to be imitating the style of Cal Tjader, another vibe player I enjoy hearing.

Thanks again for bringing this one to the front.

Todd Mason said...

Jackson might well've taken a lighter touch than usual on this one, while still being so remarkably liquid, that might remind one of Tjader.

I really need a new turntable, so I can enjoy (and record) my vinyl again.

Now, Rick, all you need (in re this post anyway) is JAZZ IMPRESSIONS OF NEW YORK and NO MORE WALLS...