Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Excerpt of the Day

Lalo Schifrin came closest to blaxploitation with his excellent Enter the Dragon (’73) the Bruce Lee blockbuster directed by Robert Clouse. By then, the blaxploitation sound was enjoying great success with audiences regardless of skin tone. The evidence of comfortable assimilation was on the screen — as the movie’s Chinese hero (Lee) teams up with an African-American (Jim Kelly) and a Caucasian (John Saxon) — as well as on the soundtrack. The theme, with its chugging wah guitar rhythms, “Shaft”-like rhythm and ultra funky keyboard and brass lines, make it a classic of the blaxploitation genre. Elsewhere in the score, the mellow groover “Headset Jazz,” lean creepers “Into the Night” and “The Human Fly” also have funky appeal. The score remains a touchstone for fans of Schifrin, blaxploitation and classic kung fu. Rap group Wu Tang Clan paid homage to it with its debut album, Enter the Wu Tang (’93). And Rush Hour (’98) director Brett Ratner requested a Dragon-style score from Schifrin to accompany the high kicking, crime fighting, comic antics of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Simply put, Dragon is a notable and influential entry into the blaxploitation soundtrack genre, even if the movie barely qualifies.

– from Chapter 1: Crime Jazz and Felonious Funk of Kristopher Spencer’s Film and Television Scores, 1950-1979

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