Saturday, June 27, 2009

Book Excerpt of the Day

Considering Johnny Mandel’s prolific big band credentials one might expect a straight jazz score from him for Point Blank (’67), based on a Donald Westlake novel. But the soundtrack ambitiously explores 12-tone serialism — a style not so much hard-boiled as it is scrambled. Soundtrack collectors who associate Mandel with his warm, sensuous Oscar®-winning song “The Shadow of Your Smile” (’65) will be surprised by the cold modernity of the composer’s work on this crime thriller. Ponderous, dissonant orchestration with intermittent percussion accents and subtle use of the genre’s standby keyboard, the harpsichord, cast an icy disposition over the proceedings, rarely offering reassurance through crime jazz conventions. However, there are smooth lounge jazz source cues such as “This Way to Heaven” and most enticingly “I’ll Slip Out of Something Comfortable” that are almost jarringly accessible next to such disquieting tracks as “Nightmare” and “Unquestioned Answers.”

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

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