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GA Russell

Crime and Spy Jazz on Screen, 1950-1970: A History and Discography

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The Moochin' About label has nice box sets of related jazz soundtracks at very low prices.

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5 minutes ago, felser said:

The Moochin' About label has nice box sets of related jazz soundtracks at very low prices.

Agreed.  I have two of these, and I think there at least 5 last time I checked.

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4 hours ago, GA Russell said:

This might appeal to some here.  It is 25% off, with free shipping.

$33.75

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1476667470

Thanks! Sounds like a great book. It's funny that they make a big deal about Issac Hayes' "Shaft". I remember when it first came out, a composer/arr. wrote an angry letter to DB saying that IH took credit for all of his writing, and that IH did very little actual score writing for the film.

I just did a search on it, and my public library has it. It also lists what seems to be the same book, with the title, Crime and spy jazz on screen since 1971 : a history and discography

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1 hour ago, sgcim said:

Thanks! Sounds like a great book. It's funny that they make a big deal about Issac Hayes' "Shaft". I remember when it first came out, a composer/arr. wrote an angry letter to DB saying that IH took credit for all of his writing, and that IH did very little actual score writing for the film.

I distinctly remember Johnny Pate doing that about Curtis Mayfield and Super Fly.

Don't remember anything like that about Shaft.

The Shaft LP did give credits for arranging and orchestrations...not prominently, but they were on there:

R-1893905-1254092384.jpeg.jpg

R-1893905-1464615807-4952.jpeg.jpg

Mayfield maybe dressed it up more than Pate like, but Pate did get credit:

R-1851252-1474769543-4016.jpeg.jpg

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

I distinctly remember Johnny Pate doing that about Curtis Mayfield and Super Fly.

Don't remember anything like that about Shaft.

The Shaft LP did give credits for arranging and orchestrations...not prominently, but they were on there:

R-1893905-1254092384.jpeg.jpg

R-1893905-1464615807-4952.jpeg.jpg

Mayfield maybe dressed it up more than Pate like, but Pate did get credit:

R-1851252-1474769543-4016.jpeg.jpg

Could've been Johnny Allen, but I don't remember the letter writer's name.

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I do, it was Johnny Pate and it was about Super Fly.

I have the issue and it's a long weekend. Would you like me to go find it?

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According to the liner notes in the Shaft box set, Johnny Pate's "...longtime association with Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions led him to do the brilliant arrangements for Mayfield's seminal 1972 soundtrack for Superfly.  This attracted him to MGM for Shaft in Africa and also led to blaxploitation assignments such as Brother on the Run (1973), Bucktown (1975), and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976)..."

The box set includes the film version of Shaft as opposed to the LP re-record.  There are a number of great instrumental cues that did not make it to the LP.  

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

I do, it was Johnny Pate and it was about Super Fly.

I have the issue and it's a long weekend. Would you like me to go find it?

Maybe they both wrote letters into DB. I was way into the wah-wah thing on Shaft back then, and I really dug that soundtrack.

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Johnny Pate was also the main composer for the Shaft TV series, and his scores are included in the aforementioned Shaft box.

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On 9/4/2021 at 4:43 PM, sgcim said:

Thanks! Sounds like a great book. It's funny that they make a big deal about Issac Hayes' "Shaft". I remember when it first came out, a composer/arr. wrote an angry letter to DB saying that IH took credit for all of his writing, and that IH did very little actual score writing for the film.

Does this sound familiar?

JPate_DB_SF.jpg

 

DB October 26, 1972.

Does that image show up here?

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13 hours ago, JSngry said:

Does this sound familiar?

DB October 26, 1972.

Does that image show up here?

It does, and thank you for sharing.

I wonder how this went over at the time, and if Pate burned any bridges by publishing the letter.  I applaud him for wanting to set the record straight, but the kind of thing he describes routinely occurred in the film scoring world.  There is a famous example that I could cite, except that the composer in question likes to scour the internet and threaten litigation. 

Depending on who the composer is, the gig of Hollywood arranger/orchestrator can run the gamut from original compositions and original orchestrations, down to grunt work if the composer supplied very detailed sketches.  Hollywood arrangers/orchestrators have to walk a line in which they advocate for their own importance in the process, while not undermining the composers they work for. 

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21 hours ago, JSngry said:

Does this sound familiar?

JPate_DB_SF.jpg

 

DB October 26, 1972.

Does that image show up here?

No, the letter I was talking about was about Issac Hayes and Shaft, but I can see the similarities.The music to those Blaxploitation movies had some nice funk scores, and a film scholar I know online is writing a paper about the use of the wah-wah in them!

Stay safe, bro.

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I had begun to read Down Beat when Shaft came out, but had yet to subscribe (our high school library did, though), so maybe I missed that letter about Shaft. I you find it, please share!

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I just got that Crime and Spy Jazz book from the library the other day, and it's really exhaustive. The guy writes about music from TV shows that were cancelled after their premiere, or a few shows, and there's not even a recording of them! I don't know how he got to hear them.

He's musically illiterate; to describe the flute melody to the Mission Impossible theme, he uses the numbers 3-3-3-2! I guess that's supposed to mean a triplet and a half note? a four note motif?

He's got good taste, though. He was able to weed through all the recordings of "Riff Jazz" from Mike Hammer, and pick out Tony Scott's superb version as the best one.

He wanders from the Crime and Spy music sometimes. For example, he singles out Alex North's theme for A Streetcar Named Desire as a good jazz theme (which it is), but there's no crime or spying going on in Streetcar that I know of...

He finds interviews with some obscure interviews with writers like Kenyon Hopkins, and George Duning that are really interesting. It's kind of annoying that he brings up Raksin (which he spelled Raskin(!)), and the theme from Laura in the intro, but then never mentions him again! What about that wild theme for "The Big Combo" (1955)?

He does say that he knows some people are going to be mad at him for leaving out things like that, and advises people to tell him about it, suggesting, "That's what second editions are for".

Anyway, there's a ton of stuff about Nelson Riddle, Billy May "Johnny" Williams (yes, that one), and many others, so check it out, if that's your bag.

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29 minutes ago, sgcim said:

He was able to weed through all the recordings of "Riff Jazz" from Mike Hammer, and pick out Tony Scott's superb version as the best one.

From TV Action Jazz?  I agree!  

29 minutes ago, sgcim said:

He finds interviews with some obscure interviews with writers like Kenyon Hopkins...

Oh, I have to get the book just for that!

29 minutes ago, sgcim said:

For example, he singles out Alex North's theme for A Streetcar Named Desire as a good jazz theme (which it is), but there's no crime or spying going on in Streetcar that I know of.

Well, I file Streetcar in the crime/spy section, because it fits nicely there.  

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19 hours ago, sgcim said:

I just got that Crime and Spy Jazz book from the library the other day, and it's really exhaustive. The guy writes about music from TV shows that were cancelled after their premiere, or a few shows, and there's not even a recording of them! I don't know how he got to hear them.

He's musically illiterate; to describe the flute melody to the Mission Impossible theme, he uses the numbers 3-3-3-2! I guess that's supposed to mean a triplet and a half note? a four note motif?

He's got good taste, though. He was able to weed through all the recordings of "Riff Jazz" from Mike Hammer, and pick out Tony Scott's superb version as the best one.

He wanders from the Crime and Spy music sometimes. For example, he singles out Alex North's theme for A Streetcar Named Desire as a good jazz theme (which it is), but there's no crime or spying going on in Streetcar that I know of...

He finds interviews with some obscure interviews with writers like Kenyon Hopkins, and George Duning that are really interesting. It's kind of annoying that he brings up Raksin (which he spelled Raskin(!)), and the theme from Laura in the intro, but then never mentions him again! What about that wild theme for "The Big Combo" (1955)?

He does say that he knows some people are going to be mad at him for leaving out things like that, and advises people to tell him about it, suggesting, "That's what second editions are for".

Anyway, there's a ton of stuff about Nelson Riddle, Billy May "Johnny" Williams (yes, that one), and many others, so check it out, if that's your bag.

Thanks for that, sg!

Last month I picked up a copy of The Big Combo for my nephew for Christmas.

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4 hours ago, GA Russell said:

Thanks for that, sg!

Last month I picked up a copy of The Big Combo for my nephew for Christmas.

Some guy online is a fanatic about the tune, and wanted me to write and perform an arr. of it, but he didn't want to pay me! I wrote one anyway, and didn't send him anything.

There's a hell of a lot of info about Mancini's career, and i should have listed that song from Mike Hammer as "Riff Blues" instead of Riff Jazz.

There's some good stuff on movies where jazz groups improvised on films, rather than write a score, sometimes with disastrous results. He said Miles Davis' music to Elevator to the Gallows sounds great alone, but when they put it to the movie, the music was completely inappropriate to the film (except for one scene) .As usual, Miles lied about the whole situation, according to the French director.

Dizzy Reece did the same thing on "Nowhere to Go", using Tubby Hayes in his group, but it was done with written cues, so it went much better.

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Finally finished the excellent book GA Russell recommended. The author doesn't just list the films and TV shows, and the composers and personnel; he gives you a detailed synopsis of each film, an unflinching review of the film, background on the actors, directors and composers, and gives details about each scene in the film where the music is particularly effective, or in some cases, completely inappropriate. A good example of the latter is the scene from "Satan in High Heels" where the beautiful flute cue Mundell Lowe wrote was actually for the sexy lead actress stripping, and then going skinny-dipping in a lake! If I had known that when I wrote it up for clarinetist Joe Dixon, maybe i would've come up with a more 'sensual' interpretation..:excited:

An interesting pattern emerged in French films of the fifties and early sixties.Directors would hire jazz musicians with no background in film scoring to write scores for their films, and then chop them up, to the musicians' dismay. We have musicians like Barney Wilen, Art Blakey(!), Thelonious Monk, Martial Solal,, Charlie Rouse, and others, being hired to score films, and then finding out that the directors would chop up their music into just seconds of sound that were used in various scenes.

In the US, even Dizzy Gillespie, Mal Waldron and others were hired for scores for films and/or TV shows. Duke Ellington also did TV show scores (besides the well-known film score to "Anatomy of a Murder") and Count Basie even did the theme song to a TV show.

In the 60s, Lalo Schifrin emerges as the crime and spy jazz king, as he builds up to his complete domination of the field with the Mission Impossible theme. He attributes the success of the theme to the fact that using a 5/4 theme left people excited, because they didn't know when the next measure would start.

I was just notified by the library that the second volume of Bang's Crime and Spy Jazz On Screen has come in, but due to the pandemic, they won't be open until Tuesday. This one deals with 1971 to the present.

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20 minutes ago, sgcim said:

In the 60s, Lalo Schifrin emerges as the crime and spy jazz king, as he builds up to his complete domination of the field with the Mission Impossible theme. He attributes the success of the theme to the fact that using a 5/4 theme left people excited, because they didn't know when the next measure would start.

This might be mentioned in the book (which I haven't read but plan to seek out), but read in an excellent book on the Mission Impossible TV series that the 5/4 selection was intended by Schifrin for the final chase of the pilot episode, but Bruce Geller made it the main title theme because he found it so exciting. A good move, probably. 

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1 hour ago, sgcim said:

Finally finished the excellent book GA Russell recommended. The author doesn't just list the films and TV shows, and the composers and personnel; he gives you a detailed synopsis of each film, an unflinching review of the film, background on the actors, directors and composers, and gives details about each scene in the film where the music is particularly effective, or in some cases, completely inappropriate. A good example of the latter is the scene from "Satan in High Heels" where the beautiful flute cue Mundell Lowe wrote was actually for the sexy lead actress stripping, and then going skinny-dipping in a lake! If I had known that when I wrote it up for clarinetist Joe Dixon, maybe i would've come up with a more 'sensual' interpretation..:excited:

An interesting pattern emerged in French films of the fifties and early sixties.Directors would hire jazz musicians with no background in film scoring to write scores for their films, and then chop them up, to the musicians' dismay. We have musicians like Barney Wilen, Art Blakey(!), Thelonious Monk, Martial Solal,, Charlie Rouse, and others, being hired to score films, and then finding out that the directors would chop up their music into just seconds of sound that were used in various scenes.

In the US, even Dizzy Gillespie, Mal Waldron and others were hired for scores for films and/or TV shows. Duke Ellington also did TV show scores (besides the well-known film score to "Anatomy of a Murder") and Count Basie even did the theme song to a TV show.

In the 60s, Lalo Schifrin emerges as the crime and spy jazz king, as he builds up to his complete domination of the field with the Mission Impossible theme. He attributes the success of the theme to the fact that using a 5/4 theme left people excited, because they didn't know when the next measure would start.

I was just notified by the library that the second volume of Bang's Crime and Spy Jazz On Screen has come in, but due to the pandemic, they won't be open until Tuesday. This one deals with 1971 to the present.

What did Kenyon Hopkins have to say?

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Part of a Kenyon Hopkins interview is quoted in his much praised score for "The Strange One", which as of this writing has not been digitized yet.He talks about the climax of the film where he says he, "uses a 12-tone technique, which I don't ordinarily use in a theatrical film."

"The commercial melodies and the juke boxes and the 12-tone chase which comes at the end of the picture are all related. The theme used in the final chase is the tune called "The Strange One"12-tone form. If you listen to the album a couple of times, you can see the relationship of the whole thing".

The soundtrack album allowed Hopkins to expand his cues into full-length compositions. Hopkins talks about editing out things that are just related to the action in the film.

He says, "Mostly it's a matter of blending cues.We have long tails on cues in movies, so they can be mixed out. Then we just cut off those tails and put the cues next to each other, and- generally speaking- you've got development."

The author goes over a number of Hopkins' scores, including The Hustler, The Yellow Canary, Mister Buddwing, and A Lovely Way to Die.

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8 hours ago, sgcim said:

He says, "Mostly it's a matter of blending cues.We have long tails on cues in movies, so they can be mixed out. Then we just cut off those tails and put the cues next to each other, and- generally speaking- you've got development."

Very interesting that he says this.  One of my pet peeves is soundtrack albums in which the producers allow those very long sustained final notes the full decay that you would hear in the film, in which the decays essentially act as a crossfade into the visuals.  As a standalone listening experience, these kinds of decays slow the momentum.  Joel McNeely's Bernard Herrmann albums, The Twilight Zone in particular, suffer from this.   Glad to hear Kenyon Hopkins reinforce my opinion. 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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